Choosing A Business Development Coach for Lawyers
Law firms want (and need) lawyers to bring in business. And to some, that requirement can feel daunting. You know you need to develop routines that foster time devoted to developing productive relationships, build skills for making yourself visible and be patient with the process. But sometimes you are so busy doing client work, the time to develop the right skills and habits seems elusive. So, you complete your marketing tasks a but haphazardly, with no real plan in place. Unfortunately, that approach leads to lackluster results, frustration, and stress.
So, how can you get traction? Try engaging a business development coach. Why go it alone?
Working with a business development coach helps you focus your relationship development efforts. Working one-to-one with you, coaches help you understand who you know, how you know them, why the relationship matters and how to execute on furthering a relationship that brings in work. Working with a coach helps you select targets, build upon existing and new relationships, and ultimately ask for the work. The results can be empowering.
But, what can you expect from working with a business development coach? A lot, but here are a few ideas:
Someone who holds you accountable
When you create a marketing and business development plan, it’s important to create a parallel action plan and stick to it. A coach will help you with both while setting short- and long-term goals. This person will help you determine personalized, achievable actionable steps along the way. Perhaps a coach’s biggest asset is keeping you focused on your objectives while establishing safe spaces to talk about your challenges and successes.
Someone who customizes a business development plan
Everyone develops work in different ways and with varying degrees of success. By working one-on-one with a coach, together you come to understand and employ what works best for you. It is important that you “be you” in relationships and not try to be something you are not. Authenticity is critical for building trust, and trust is the foundation of a successful lawyer-client relationship.
Someone who acts as a sounding board
Sometimes you just need someone you trust to listen to you objectively. Using a coach who is knowledgeable about the legal industry, who will tell you like it is, and is tuned into who you are is critical to a successful coaching agreement. Sometimes just talking through a strategy crystalizes an approach that you may not have thought about before.
Someone who helps you plan for the future
It is very easy to get stuck in today’s tasks and not think about how to set yourself up for future success. Your coach can help you determine long-term goals that your short-term initiatives queue up. Are the activities you are doing now preparing you to meet your career goals in two, or even five, years from now? Business development takes time, and it’s important to be thoughtful and deliberate in your approach. Once you stop chasing the wrong things, it frees you up to catch the right ones.
Someone with whom you feel comfortable discussing weaknesses and challenges
It is easy to talk about successes (for the most part). It’s when you need to admit a weakness or an insecurity that it gets trickier. Your coach should be someone you have chemistry with, whom you feel safe with, and who you trust to keep your conversations confidential. This relationship has the ability to impact your career path, so choosing someone you like is an important part of your success.
Understanding what you want from a coaching relationship is important in evaluating your potential coaches. Start by thinking through what a successful coaching arrangement may look like to you and what you want to take away from the experience. Although I am a proponent of trusting your gut when you meet someone, interviewing a few coaching candidates will allow you to get a sense of how different coaches work, where they focus, and how they will guide the process. This is an important vetting process that helps you evaluate a person’s skills and approaches. Here are a few questions to consider asking your coaching candidates:
- What is your approach to business development coaching?
- What is important to be successful using your coaching methods?
- How long have you worked in the legal industry?
- How often do you meet with your coachees?
- What methods/materials do you offer to keep them on track in between meetings?
- How do you set goals with your coachees?
- Why are you different than other coaches?
Do you have more questions or want to discuss coaching with me? I would welcome a chance to talk about you and your practice and how I may help you build more visibility and bring in more work. Please connect with me at [email protected].