Positive relationships should be at the core of every hiring decision. This holds true across all kinds of hiring… from adding employees to bringing on outside legal counsel. When it comes to business development, it is pretty common knowledge that gaining new work from existing clients is usually easier than unearthing a brand new piece of business from someone who has no experience with you. It just makes sense– presumably you have provided an excellent service for a reasonable rate, producing solid results. It’s a great model… build trust with clients today and it will lead to new business from the same client. Sounds like a slam dunk? Sure… but, sorry… not guaranteed. So how do you gain a little more security in your ability to expand work from existing clients? Make yourself indispensable. Sounds exhausting, but arguably, it is this kind of depth that makes work satisfying.
Particularly in the legal industry, it has been a common practice for clients to require outside lawyers to understand their businesses deeply. Becoming indispensable goes further than this, however. Here are a few things you can do to start developing your relationships and achieve ‘indispensable’ status.
- Be the first to identify challenges and risks for the client’s business and develop solutions before they become problems.
- Bring opportunities to the client that they may not have anticipated or otherwise accessed.
- Be proactive as often as you possibly can, anticipating roadblocks without being overly negative.
- Use efficiency to save the client money.
- Be nimble and willing to change.
- Provide thought leadership in your area that has impact on other areas of the business.
- Make your clients’ lives easier whenever possible.
- Add value every step of the way without charging for it.
Arguably, there are hundreds of pathways to business success. However, how do you obtain professional success that also brings you personal gratification? The foundation sits upon one crucial piece: trust.
Trust is the characteristic upon which respect and loyalty are based. Without trust, there is negative tension which eats away at the ability of people to unite. Trust in the business development process is, perhaps, even more critical. People want to work with people they connect with and like. They need to trust you to help them reach their goals. So, how do you earn someone’s trust? Below are some tips:
Be Honest, Always. The only way to build trust is to be honest about everything. How do you show someone that you are honest? Always tell the truth. The occasional “white” lie or stretched truth isn’t ok. I am not saying to be brutally honest and hurt feelings, but rather find a way deliver the truth in a constructive, helpful way.
Be Available. Being available also means being present in whatever way your client needs, whether its’ physical, emotional or virtual. They need to know that you are reliable and will do the work to your best ability.
Be Consistent. Always deliver the best products and results you possibly can. By modeling consistent behavior, you show people what you are made of and what they can expect to receive.
Be Helpful. Don’t make it all about you. Ask thoughtful questions, clear pathways that help people reach their goals and genuinely help people because it feels like the right thing to do. If you nurture mutually beneficial relationships through open and honest communication, helpfulness will always come back to you in spades.
Do what you say you will do. Don’t promise something you can’t deliver and strive to go above and beyond whenever possible. Unrealistic promises will always hurt you. If you continually do what you say you are going to do, people will come back when they need your help again. If you can’t deliver what you thought you could? Be honest. Tell them how you miscalculated the task and tell them what you can do.
There are so many good reasons to build trust, both personally and professionally. Building honesty, consistency and helpfulness into your daily existence is an excellent way to lead your professional business success.
This probably does the practice a disservice, but mindfulness is all the craze right now! Americans find themselves living a frenetic pace, and are all the worse for it. Personally, I still find the “gotta do it all and do it yesterday” mantra exhausting, yet I still find myself trying to live it. I attended the annual Legal Marketing Association’s New England chapter annual conference this year and was thrilled to listen to a TED-Style talk about mindfulness. At first, I thought there was no way a successful business person could work mindfulness into their days. Boy, was I wrong! Turns out, mindfulness is a fantastic asset for today’s business world, not just legal marketers.
A recent study conducted by researchers at INSEAD and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found that 15 minutes of mindful meditation could help a person make better decisions. That same study shows that mindfulness “can reduce confirmation bias and overconfidence, allowing decision makers to better differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information.” Wow… that is powerful stuff!
We all find ourselves making a ton of decisions daily. Some of it important (think: setting annual budgets) to less than important (think: what’s for lunch). Regardless of the decision, this constant flow creates stress (both perceived and unperceived), making each decision slightly harder than the next some days. What if we could slow down for a brief period of time and walk away feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next question? Well, why can’t we? I know it can be challenging to find a quiet spot to deep breath and meditate for 10 or 15 minutes in our busy office environments, so why not try a ‘walking mediation’? Here is how it works: Schedule time in your calendar to go for a 15 minute walk a few days a week (if not daily). One catch– you must go it alone. No chatting allowed. Just you, the fresh air and your thoughts. Take this time to move your body while letting your mind randomly flow thoughts. Acknowledge these thoughts and let them go. This time is not for problem solving or making ‘to do’ lists. It is for recognizing emotions, letting your mind relax and recharging your energy.
Making healthy habits takes work. In fact, I have heard it takes 21 times of doing a particular action before you see a routine change in behavior. I encourage you to try walking mediation. It could make a huge difference in how you treat people, care for yourself and find success.