Some answers: “It’s something you do when you don’t have anything else to do-like surf your auctions on ebay, or update your facebook account”. “It’s something that some people are really good at, and some aren’t.” (if this is anything like your answer, you are probably also secretly relieved that you are not like the shallow extroverts who are ‘good’ at business development, but you would never say so out loud) “Its something that you have to do that is unspeakably horrible, awkward and embarrassing, and someone like me shouldn’t have to go around in a plaid sport coat and ask for business”
For many, this makes ice water run in the veins. Others take to it as naturally as birds to the air. The thing to remember if you are one of the ice water people is…you can do it. You must do it, and you know it. It’s now or never. So, lets begin.
First things first. Who are your clients? Look at that list, and subdivide it into two groups- those with whom you are currently engaged, and those who are idle. Have those who are idle heard from you in the last 6 months?
Take this step. Review the work you did for them, understand what is going on in their world at the moment, make contact with them, and arrange to meet. No agenda, just arrange to meet. When you meet, make sure you keep the spotlight on the client, by asking all the open ended questions you were ever trained to make: how have you been doing, what vacations have you taken, have you run that marathon you were training for? etc. Then talk business.
How’re things going at XYZ Corp? How’s your life there? At this point, you can begin referring to what you’ve learned about their industry over the last 6 months, and about what unique challenges they face. Your real job here is make easy, non-threatening, client centered contact, with the emphasis on listening, quietly.
If you are a lawyer, you must be knowledgeable about legislation that affects the industry. Bring this up, and ask if the client is aware of the ramifications of changes. Briefly outline a way that your firm could help them with this. “Just FYI, Mr. Client, and of course, as always, it would be our pleasure to help you with this matter. Or, perhaps there’s something more pressing we haven’t discussed?”