During our first consultation, Eric shared a list of all of the activities he currently used to grow his legal practice. In the last three months, he had:
- Attended weekly networking meetings
- Scheduled two or three business lunches each week
- Written a monthly column for his local newspaper
- Published seven guest blogs posts
- Agreed to speak to four community organizations in a single month
- Joined two nonprofit boards
- Been active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, and Google+
And his results? Lackluster. He brought in a small amount of new business, but he also found that details were slipping through the cracks (with his clients as well as other aspects of his practice and life) and that his stress levels were off the charts.
Eric’s question: with all this activity, why am I seeing such poor results? Time, energy, and attention are all finite, and too much of a good thing is still too much. Although Eric had chosen good activities, he had taken on so many that he was spread too thin and wasn’t able to get the full impact of any activity.
It’s easy to see what constitutes too much activity for someone else, but the drive for new business often makes it difficult to turn down a new opportunity.
Here’s what you need to consider before taking on something new:
- What’s the cost of doing this activity? Consider time, money, and political or relationship costs.
- Does this opportunity take me closer to what I want to accomplish? Strategic activity deserves a closer look, but random activity always leads to random results.
- What’s the potential upside? Look beyond the potential for new business and consider potential such as building relationships, creating exposure for yourself and your practice, or learning something that will support your practice.
- How valuable is the potential upside?
- What’s the likelihood of realizing that upside? Tracking your results is imperative because it allows a realistic assessment of the likely payoff of an activity.
- What must you say no to, if you say yes to this opportunity? Saying yes to one opportunity always means saying no to others. Consider the risk of losing other business development opportunities, billable time, sleep, or even cash.
When you consider a new opportunity, you may find it easy to see positive potential and to overlook the costs. Thinking through a standard list of questions before jumping on board will help you ensure that you’re saying yes to the right opportunities, not to every opportunity that comes your way.
Eric evaluated each of his activities using these questions and narrowed his focus to a handful of strategically-selected activities. By limiting his focus, he was able to gain traction: he built more and deeper relationships thanks to better preparation and follow-up, and he selected just a few speaking opportunities for carefully selected audiences that led to new contacts. And soon, he began to see an influx of business as a result.
The moral of Eric’s story: Learn to say NO so your legal practice can grow.