Golfing – FORE-tunately Not the Only Way to Build Your Book of Business
Many people talk about getting deals done on the golf course. Instead of negotiating over a boardroom table, transactions get done down the fairway (or off the tee block or on the green). I fell victim to the belief that I had to learn to play golf to in order to build a book of business as a lawyer. It has been a frustrating struggle. Thankfully I found a pro who helped with my back swing and I have gotten to the point where I can contribute some shots in a game of best ball (as I refuse to play an actual game of golf!). I am in my thirteenth year of practice and I still take refresher lessons every season!
Business development encompasses various strategies and activities aimed at creating growth opportunities and expanding your referral network. While golf is often associated with business development, there are numerous other ways to build your book of business. The most effective business development is done while doing an activity that you actually enjoy. At the end of the day, you’re trying to build a relationship. That is hard to do if you are not having any fun and are stressed about looking the fool as you swing over the golf ball (which happens to most of us amateur players).
Here are some alternatives to the frustrations found on the golf course:
Attend industry conferences, seminars, trade shows, or networking events specific to your field. These events provide opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals, build relationships, and explore potential collaborations or partnerships. Set realistic goals for these events – like meeting one new person. This means you should not spend all of your time with your colleagues or friends, despite it feeling safe and comfortable. Make sure that you reach out to the new person that you’ve met. Send an email or connect with them on LinkedIn the next day, and reference meeting them at the event. If you plan on reaching out to someone, make a few notes about that person, i.e. where they went to school, a shared interest, etc. Recalling these details will assist in building a relationship with the new contact.
Volunteer or Join Associations
Get involved in professional associations or industry-related volunteer organizations. This allows you to meet industry leaders, establish credibility, and demonstrate your expertise. I have also made great connections through volunteering on committees or boards of directors for local charities. Not only do you expand your network, you get to contribute to your community.
Offer to speak at conferences, seminars, or webinars relevant to your industry. Sharing your knowledge and expertise can help position you as a thought leader and attract potential clients or business opportunities. Don’t limit the speaking engagements to those put on by law associations or law-related organizations. Work with your firm’s marketing department to host your own speaking engagement – make it a virtual event if you are working with a limited budget.
Create valuable content such as blog posts, articles, white papers, or videos that showcase your expertise and provide insights to your target audience. Sharing content on your profile on your firm’s website, your social media platforms, or industry publications can help attract potential clients and referral sources, and establish your credibility.
Identify complementary businesses or organizations that share a similar target audience or offer complementary products or services. Explore partnership opportunities to cross-promote, collaborate on projects, or share resources to reach a wider audience.
Remember, business development is about building relationships, identifying opportunities, and creating value. Golf is just one avenue among many others. Find activities that align with your interests and strengths, and focus on building genuine connections. Leverage various activities to make those connections. Once you build the connection, focus on providing value to the people you are trying to bring into your referral network, or attract as clients.
About the Author
Alysia Christiaen is a corporate lawyer and Chief Privacy Officer at Lerners LLP, and is certified by the International Association of Privacy Professionals as a Certified Information Privacy Professional/Canada. Her practice focuses on advising businesses and other organizations across Ontario on privacy issues, corporate governance, contracts and mergers & acquisitions. A focus of her practice is not-for-profit corporations. Alysia is proud to be serving as a board member for the London Health Sciences Foundation, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and as the Vice-Chair of the Parkinson’s Society Southwestern Ontario board of directors. She would describe herself as a fashionable foodie and is happy to offer recommendations for hidden gem restaurants.