Of all the social media platforms out there, I’d venture to say that LinkedIn is the one that lawyers are most comfortable using. It has a reputation for being the most professional, and as a result, it’s had the widest adoption within the industry. In recent years, LinkedIn has really expanded their offerings, and provided a robust, deep platform that allows us to engage in new ways, all which make it an even more valuable platform than it was at the beginning.

Like any social platform (or any tool, really), LinkedIn is what you make of it – you can treat it as a place to broadcast from, and as long as you have something valuable to say, you may find that many people are listening to you. But if you want to use it as a business development tool, then you need to get serious about the steps that you take to leverage its features. I read a great article recently on Inc. which talked about three ways to use LinkedIn to attract your ideal customer. Since “sales” is a dirty word for lawyers, we’re instead going to talk about using LinkedIn for business/relationship development (which, by the way, is really the same thing, but said in a more palatable way).
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Depending on your business/relationship development goals and strengths, one of your strategies may be to write and share content. When you’re considering augmenting your reputation and building your practice, it might seem counterintuitive to share the spotlight with someone else by quoting or referencing them in your articles and posts, but I’m here to tell you that it’s both essential, and a good business development practice. How so? 
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While I’m out of the office this week for our Annual Conference, I’m bringing you a guest post from Vince Robisch, of Minimalex – Vince coaches attorneys on improving their business development process to bring in more corporate clients. He practiced at an AmLaw 200 firm for eight years, and has sold millions of dollars of products and services to corporate legal departments and law firms, an experience that helps him to understand his clients and their clients. He currently coaches attorneys from specialized boutiques to some of the largest firms in the United States. You can learn more at his website. Vince is using the dreaded “s” word today – sales – to talk about an important topic, that of business development. It turns out that data helps your business. Who knew?

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Let’s be clear that lawyers don’t need to turn into professional salespeople to be good at business development.  In fact, sales and business development often get used interchangeably when in reality, sales is focused on revenue generation, while business development tries to identify a product/market fit.

For our purposes, business development is the action of growing existing clients and bringing in new clients.  Lawyers are in a much better position than the average salesperson to control the entire process and can leave behind all of the advice of slick, high-volume sales pros.  That’s not your business and it won’t help.
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Networking is not an easy task, which is one of the reasons that we discuss it so frequently here on Zen.

Since I’m spending this week with my lawyers in Milan, facilitating their networking efforts at our Annual Conference, I have networking on the brain, and wanted to share with you a couple of the worst networking mistakes you can make, and how to recover from them. 
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Lawyers know better than most people that words matter – after all, who knows better than a contract lawyer that a nuanced clause can make or break a deal?

But who knows better than your marketing team that “marketing” is a four-letter word?

It shouldn’t be – and I’ll explain why in a moment.

But how many of you (raise your hands) think of marketing as something that some group in your office does once in a while?

How many of you think of marketing as brochures and advertisements?

How many of you think marketers are just people who ask you for money and then put pretty logos together or make sure you have enough business cards?

Okay, put your  hands down. I’ve got news for you – marketing is everything you do.
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While I’m out of the office this week, I’m really pleased to be bringing you a special guest post from one of the ILN’s member professionals. Alice Steen, Knowledge Manager at Holmes O’Malley Sexton, discusses best practices for developing a learning culture in your organization.

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Alice Steen, Knowledge Manager, at Holmes O’Malley Sexton reflects on ten years of learning and development (L&D) – providing strategic planning, specialist training, funding and supports for the staff’s further education, career and professional development at the thriving full service law firm.

Alice is a qualified solicitor with post graduate qualifications in higher education, teaching and learning, together with being a Lean Black Belt.

Alice joined Holmes O’Malley Sexton (HOMS Solicitors) in 2008 when it had just one office and 26 practising solicitors, 2 legal executives and 3 trainees. She has witnessed the firm’s solicitors, legal executives and trainee numbers grow by nearly 300% along with now having four offices in London, Dublin, Limerick and Cork. The nature and demands of her own role have changed dramatically as a result.
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The curse of the marathon runner – we’re either running, or we’re talking about running. Apologies to everyone around me who isn’t a runner who’s had to suffer through my running and running-adjacent conversations over the last several months.

I’m 12 days away from my first marathon (in PARIS!) and I’m both excited and anxious about it. I joke that my life is either about work or running or trying to take care of my dogs – with little room for anything else. But it’s not an exaggeration.

So it’s no surprise that as I’m well into my taper (the period before the marathon where you reduce your mileage so that your legs will be fresh to run the 26.2 miles that the marathon demands), all I’m thinking about is running. What can that possibly have to do with business development? Quite a lot as it happens.
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I’m thrilled to announce that JD Supra has included me in this year’s Readers Choice Awards, which acknowledge top authors and firms for their thought leadership in key topics. I was selected from among thousands of authors published in 2018 for the level of visibility and engagement attained with readers on the topic of marketing and business development.

We also have two ILN member recognized – Patricia Wagner and E. John Steren of Epstein Becker & Green were recognized as top authors in Antitrust & Trade Regulation.

You may remember that we had Lance Godard contribute a guest post a few years ago on three reasons why every lawyer should study the JD Supra awards, and these are just as relevant today, so I encourage you to check these out. To recap:

  1. Clients read what they need to know
  2. Content marketing works
  3. Less is definitely not more

Read more to find out why the awards are relevant to you, even if you haven’t participated or been recognized, and how you can make use of them in your practice. 
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There are some people who can talk with anyone – my brother-in-law is like that. Put him in a room with a bunch of people he doesn’t know, and he excels at connecting with them without awkward silences.

But for many of us, that is unfortunately not one of our strengths. I’m a prime example of that. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been speaking with someone, only to have the conversation taper off and leave you standing there wracking your brain to come up with something to say?

*Hand raised*
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If we were guaranteed to get business every time we met someone new, we’d all be networking all the time, right?

But instead, networking takes time, it takes finesse and relationship-building, and often, you’ll find yourself talking to someone who may not be giving your their business or they may not have business to give you. Two complaints about networking that I’ve heard frequently are “this person doesn’t benefit me” and “I haven’t gotten any business yet.” But are these always wasted efforts? 
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