612-308-8019 j.autrey@comcast.net

Nurture Existing Clients First
Business Development (BD) is about retaining and expanding work with existing clients, and bringing in new ones. First and foremost, actively and intentionally cultivate your existing clients. Over time, the focus of your BD efforts should evolve to roughly 80% on existing clients and 20% looking for new ones.

Keep this definition in mind: Business Development (BD) is about retaining and expanding work with existing clients, and bringing in new ones.

The Four Components of Successful BD

Success in business development involves:

  • MINDSET – Embracing business development means figuring it out, always having your antennae up, continually looking for opportunities and acting on them.
  • PROCESS – Developing the systems and process to implement BD is the backbone of success. The goal is to build efficient, effective administrative habits that sustain your BD efforts.
  • SKILLS – The best way to become a good business developer is to build your BD skills while you’re actively developing relationships (listen well, ask good questions, etc.). It’s not just going through the motions it’s how well you execute each step along way.
  • STRATEGY – This has to do with positioning – whether it’s with a person, a company or in an industry. It’s essential to focus and be disciplined about with whom you spend your time – and why.

It’s important to know that random acts of BD produce random results. Focusing on these four components will help ensure your BD success.


Use this simple assessment to help you decide where to spend your valuable BD efforts. Assess the BD activity in the following areas on a low, medium or high basis.
_____ Time
_____ Out of pocket costs and other resources
_____ BD ROI (estimate the value of the effort)

Maximize BD ROI for Events
You can increase the BD ROI for events if you apply this BD tip to your efforts. It’s a good habit for all BD events. BDA = BEFORE – DURING – AFTER. That is, connect with key people Before the event, During and Afterwards for follow-up.

Don’t Wing It
It’s not just staying in touch it’s making every F2F meeting count. Try this out and work on making it a habit:

FIVE MINUTES – FIVE QUESTIONS: When you have coffee or a meeting with someone take FIVE minutes to do a little research – a brief Google search, review news and press releases, review a LinkedIn profile, etc. – and prepare FIVE questions for your meeting. Two of the most powerful BD skills are actively listening and asking good questions. It’s much better to prepare for a few minutes than to show up cold. The BD impact you have will increase TEN fold (5+5=10)

Share the BD Love
Whenever possible, partners should include associates in BD meetings. Associates, on the other hand, need to ask partners when they have upcoming BD meetings they could attend. Both partners and associates should help each other navigate the BD process and look for opportunities to learn. Meetings are for Partners AND Associates

Fabulously Successful BD Meetings

Differentiate yourself from other lawyers by following this simple model. Keep in mind that the real learning / improving takes place at the “Review” stage where you evaluate the outcome of your efforts. Look at what went well and what you would do differently next time. Your BD skills will continuously improve.
PDR = Plan – Do – Review

Internal BD Matters
Develop key internal relationships strategically and intentionally. Go through the firm’s phone list to identify your list of key internal relationships. You may want to ask others for their suggestions and input. This is to help you:

  1. Learn about the depth and breadth of the firm so you can sell it confidently.
  2. Build your internal political cache.
  3. Let others know your strengths and the focus of your practice.
  4. Facilitate workflow.
  5. Develop internal champions.

Look for these folks:

  • People you don’t know but should.
  • People you know but should know better.
  • People you know and should continue to develop.

You could prioritize it and put it into a spreadsheet to help you manage it.

Who Do You Know? Who Knows You?
Keep your bio and LinkedIn profile up-to-date. These are important sources of information about you. Don’t neglect them.

Business Development Coach Joan Autrey helps lawyers strategically build thriving practices. For details, contact Joan.