If you’ve been following along here at Zen for any length of time (or even just the last few weeks), then you’ll know that I love September and the promise of a fresh start that it brings (also because the fall is my favorite season).
A LOT of us have been feeling bogged down lately – by the pandemic, endless Zoom calls, heat and humidity, worldwide unrest, the list goes on. There is a lot that we CAN’T control. But there are some things we can control – for one, our attitudes and our ability to reach out and help someone else.
For today, let’s talk about business development and relationship building. I know it feels like that may be the LAST thing you want to do at this point in the year, but how about a fresh take on it? Remember that business development plan we’ve talked about? Review it, and see what tactics you HAVEN’T been using this year. For example, have you been avoiding networking events? Rethink that for the fall – and yes, I know we’re still in a pandemic, so if you want to limit those to online events, that’s completely fine! I know we’re all zoomed out, but you can still get a lot out of a virtual event if you are conscientious about it.
Schedule one or two things for September – maybe one is a full-on networking function for an organization. You can ease into it by starting with social media – look for ways to connect with people attending the same function in advance so that you don’t feel as if you’re walking into a room (or a virtual room) where you don’t know anyone. Maybe another scheduled event is coffee with a potential client or a new client. If you schedule them now, it will be harder to convince yourself that you’re too busy to do them once the dates roll around. Do it.
Maybe you’ve been considering expanding the type of work you do. Start your research now. Look at LinkedIn to see what companies in that space are up to, and start following some of the clients you’d like to have. Put their industry events on your calendar as you see them. Identify and highlight the work that you’ve done in this space already on your social profiles and your firm bio.
Sign yourself up for RSS feeds for the top blogs and news publications in that industry, and start commenting when you have something valuable to add. This is a good time to start building.
This is also the perfect time to start a new habit. It has been said that you need 21 days of doing something to make it a habit, so if you start today (or tomorrow), you’ll have the full month to create something new!
- Start taking the train to the office instead of driving, and use this time to read industry news. I know that public transportation is still iffy in many places, so obviously, do this only if you feel safe doing so, and mask up!
- Force yourself to take a coffee break each morning away from your desk (it doesn’t have to be away from the office). Read a blog post as you sip your coffee. If you’re working from home, walk away from your home office desk too – this is important because it’s too tempting to look at emails instead of taking that real break.
- Change scenery each afternoon for ten or fifteen minutes – maybe take a walk around the office, or around the block. Get some fresh air. Do something that will break the afternoon slump, so you’ll come back to your desk refreshed.
- Tell yourself you’re going to check LinkedIn first thing in the morning for five minutes, and engage with two or three people in some way each day. Set a timer, so that you’re intentional about the time.
- Find one new person on Twitter to have a conversation with each day.
- Start “crazy tie Tuesday” – yes, that sounds silly, but it will be a conversation starter, and you may even get to know people in your office you rarely talk to. They may even give you work someday. If you’re not in the office, do it on days when you know that you’ll be on a lot of video calls.
- Make yourself take a younger partner to lunch every Friday. It can be the same younger partner or a different one. Do it to remind yourself what it was like when you were starting out, and to be a mentor to someone. If you’re not in the office, be intentional about “having lunch” over zoom with a younger partner or associate every Friday just to catch up, and remind yourself that although this seems like a time suck, these younger lawyers are missing out on a LOT by not being in the office as regularly as you were at the same point in your career.
- Do an ice cream run – one of my favorite ILN attorneys (who passed away earlier this year) always loved ice cream and would check around the office each afternoon in the summer to find out if anyone wanted some. He’d then do an ice cream run. It’s a great way to meet people you may not usually talk to and to take a break. If you don’t have the time to do all of that, arrange for ice cream to be available in the conference room if the temperature rises above a certain point (a firm I presented at once does this). You can then chat for a few minutes in the conference room while getting your scoop!
Doing any or all of these things will freshen our outlook and mindset, brush away the summer cobwebs, and give us the reboot we need to be more creative about the business development and relationship connections that are so important to our goals.