Better Business Development


Better Business Development

Many people dislike selling their skills, but business development is an essential part of a good lawyer’s practice. Sarah Morgan reports.

“You need to find your passion in law and be able to align your existing activities to what you want to do,” said Mark Beese, President of Leadership for Lawyers, LLC (USA), told registrants yesterday during the Lunch and Learn session.

Mr. Beese introduced registrants to the basics of lawyer business development, a concept that he said many lawyers seem to find challenging.

 “Do you think intellectual property (IP) lawyers are more introverted or extroverted?” he asked the audience. No response. “Since you’re so quiet, I’m going to assume introverted,” he continued.

“We tell ourselves a story that I’m an introvert so I’m not very good at business development … and going to a [meeting] like this is exhausting. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be good at business development,” he said.

Introverts have a particular set of qualities that make for great business development: they’re observant and great listeners, they build relationships, and they’re often composed.

Mr. Beese outlined “five mindsets” required to improve a lawyer’s capabilities. First, realize there’s a difference between marketing and business development.

While he said all lawyers should write articles and advertise, “being involved in public relations no longer makes the phone ring.”

The distinction is that marketing builds your reputation and business development builds relationships.

“In today’s world we have to build relationships. We have to sell. I know you don’t like that four-letter word but it’s true,” he said.

Second, stop thinking of business development as just selling to a client but rather, think of it as helping them. This will make it easier to engage.

Third, focus on your target market. “Many of you are very skilled IP lawyers, and you can do it across the board,” Mr. Beese said. But it’s rare that a client says, ‘I’m looking for a generalist that can do everything.’” Clients want someone who understands their specific needs, their challenges, and their technologies.

For the fourth mindset, Mr. Beese presented an equation: attitude (a) plus behavior (b) plus capabilities (c) equals results (r). He said that most people don’t have problems with “b” and “c”, but sometimes get stuck with “attitude.”

A bad attitude to business development is exemplified in an approach that relies on “a numbers game.” Some people think if you “just tweet a lot” that will bring results, but that’s incorrect, he noted.

For the fifth and final mindset, Mr. Beese emphasized the importance of networks. “People hire people they trust, and they look for referrals from other people,” he concluded.

Beyond these tips, Mr. Beese provided insight into necessary skills, including using “verbal business cards” (sometimes known as an “elevator pitch”), which he called a “powerful tool” to help lawyers describe themselves.

“It doesn’t have to be pithy or cute. It has to work for you and be authentic and resonate with clients,” advised Mr. Beese, before asking audience members to speak to each other and present their own verbal business cards.

“Without saying ‘I’m a trademark lawyer,’ think about how you would introduce yourself to somebody else in the context of the problems you solve,” he said.

But why should lawyers undertake business development?

First, it results directly in money. Second, the more we do business development, the more we have control over our careers, our lives, our practice,” Mr. Beese said. l

Lunch and Learn, INTA, Lawyers, LLC, trademarks, business development, verbal business cards, Mark Beese