Beyond January: Sustaining Your Business Development Efforts in 2017

Rain BDM New Year Tips

By this point in January, you’ve been inundated with motivational blog posts that urge you to take action to make 2017 a great year. Have they stuck with you? Probably not.

That’s why this isn’t another New Year advice column. You’re in your practice for the long-haul and need to drive your business development efforts through 2017, and beyond. Below are some ideas that, while they do kick off now, will also help you set up some routines that, hopefully, will become habitual.

Review and Update Your Website and Online Bios:

  • Make a list of your recent accomplishments, such as changes to your title, workplace, practice skills, notable matters, organizational involvement, presentations, and publications.
  • Review your website bio (you do have a website, right?) and see what needs to be added, modified, or deleted. Make those changes.
  • Review your professional profiles on LinkedIn, Martindale.com, Lawyers.com, Avvo, and elsewhere, and make changes as needed. Don’t know if you have bios on those sites? Google yourself and make a list.
  • Set a recurring reminder on your calendar to repeat this process at least every quarter.

Expand your Social Media Presence 

  • If you are not on LinkedIn yet, you need to be — so start by creating a profile. Commit to sending out 5-10 new connection requests a week for the first quarter of 2017 to existing professional contacts. Each month for the first half of the year, join at least one LinkedIn group that makes sense for your practice and industries where you want to grow your presence.
  • Spend at least six months getting up to speed on LinkedIn. When you feel proficient and are engaging there regularly, consider adding another social network. Depending on the nature of your practice, consider Facebook or Twitter. Need some guidance? Give us a call.

Get a Handle on the Hard Numbers

  • This is the year to end “random acts of marketing.” All of your business development efforts should be focused and driven by hard data.
  • Knowledge is power. Take a look at your 2016 numbers and examine where your business came from, determine your most profitable clients, and zero in on the dead weight.
  • Compare that data with where you placed your business development emphasis last year. Does this line up or is there a disconnect?
  • Use this information to guide your business development efforts in 2017.

Gather some Competitive Intelligence

  • Did you lose a client or prospect in 2016? Use that experience to your advantage. Google the firm and lawyers that lured a client away, and review their website and bios. Take note of how they describe their practice, the experience they list, the organizations in which they are active, and the media mentions and publications they have secured.
  • Google yourself and review your website to see how your online persona compares with that other firm and those lawyers (and, while you’re at it, any other competitors). Use this knowledge to update your website, bio, and social media, as applicable.
  • Commit to showing up in the same organizations and publications as your competitors in 2017 – and finding other organizations and publications your competitors haven’t yet discovered.
  • If you are still in contact with the prospect or former client, take that person to lunch, not with the goal of winning them back, but to find out where your competitor is meeting their needs and you were not. This is also a good way to keep in touch in case the new relationship sours.

Make 2017 the Year You Start Blogging (Regularly)

  • If you haven’t blogged before, make 2017 the year you start. Either launch your own or begin writing for your firm’s blog.
  • In January, sit down and determine the scope of your blog, who you’re trying to reach, and some initial blog topics for the first quarter.
  • Develop your own editorial calendar and set a schedule for posting that you can stick to, such as once or twice per month.
  • At the end of the first quarter, review your efforts, brainstorm a set of new posts, and adjust your posting schedule, if needed. The key is consistency.
  • No time? Consider working with a writer who will draft posts for you. Insist on full editorial control and approval. Given the unique nature of the law and ethics rules, it’s best to choose someone who has significant industry experience.

Wishing You Success in 2017

Consider this your invitation to some new habits that will create a focused, results-driven business development program in 2017. The above are just suggestions, and you should tailor your efforts to your own needs. If you need help getting started, or are a business development pro and want to push through to the next level, we can also serve as trusted guides. Please get in touch to discuss, and let us help you make 2017 your breakthrough year.