The looming threat of compulsory mass quarantine as a result of the spreading Coronavirus has many business development professionals in a quandary over how they will be able to conduct business without the benefit of conferences, meetings, lunches and office visits.
What can you do when simply shaking someone’s hand is considered a threat? How will you continue to develop connections without the benefit of personal contact?
The most important thing is to not let the relationships you have already nurtured to become stale. If you are an active business developer you have prospects and contacts with whom you are in contact with on a regular basis. Top of mind awareness is essential in creating new client opportunities. You need to maintain those connections using the tools available. Here are five ways to maintain the pace of business development while working remotely.
- Pick up the phone. The next best thing to a face-to-face meeting is a personal phone call. Speaking directly to a contact allows you to gauge their tone of voice, engage in an immediate back-and-forth exchange, share any news or information you have, and obtain information from the prospect in return. All in five minutes.
- Write a letter. Who writes letters anymore? You should. Receiving a letter through “snail mail” is unexpected, stands out from the daily torrent of emails, and is almost always appreciated. But take the time to make the letter personal – no mass mailings to “Dear Valued Customer.”
- Set up a video chat. It is easier than ever to use Skype or FaceTime (for Apple users) to have a virtual one-on-one through your phone or tablet. Schedule the video call just as you would a live meeting. You can plan in advance the information you would like to convey, as well as what you would like to get out of the call.
- Conduct webinars. You should be doing this already. A webinar is a chance for you (or the attorneys for whom you are trying to develop business) to “show what you know.” Pick a topic that is timely, applicable to a wide range of people, and of which you have valuable knowledge to share. Keep it short – no more than 30 minutes. It is likely that more people will be willing to spend a half hour learning something from you while cooped up at home than while distracted in a busy office.
- Master social media. Keep your name in front of your contacts by having a regular presence on social media channels. This is always good advice but is more important than ever when the threads connecting you with your contacts are primarily electronic. You don’t have to write scintillating prose every day. Share interesting articles and relevant news items, including a short note about why you think they are worth reading. You’ll be remembered as the “curator” of helpful information.
Four years ago, I penned an article about the dangers of being a lawyer who hides behind a desk, writing, “The legal business is built on a foundation of trust, at a level that can only be built through personal contact. That means venturing out of your office and into the real world, where you can make meaningful, memorable contacts. Even in today’s electronically wired world, trust is still built by looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand.”
Yes, I know the advice I shared above contradicts my earlier admonition to get out from behind your desk. But we all need to adjust and adapt to changing situations. While the hope is that any mandatory “social distancing” will be temporary, it may well be a preview of how personal marketing will evolve in the near future. So, figuring out how to do business remotely during this crisis could be an important step toward growing your practice in the years ahead.
Peter Johnson is founder and principal of Law Practice Consultants, LLC of Newton, MA. Law Practice Consultants, LLC offers consulting, coaching and training services that help law firms respond to the challenges of today’s highly competitive legal marketplace. For more information visit www.lawpracticeconsultants.com. (firstname.lastname@example.org)