Not many people say that business development is easy.
“It’s okay to be uncomfortable with business development. In fact, you need to be comfortable with the discomfort” said my former boss and colleague at Deloitte, Kerry F.
Kerry looks at business development as something that is a necessary part of her practice, rather than an activity she will get to when she has time. If she treated business development as an optional part of her practice, it would rarely get it done based on her daily workload.
It is no coincidence that she holds leadership positions that include being a member of the Board of Directors of Deloitte LLP, and Chairman of Deloitte’s Financial Advisory group. She also happens to be one of the top rainmakers for Deloitte’s forensic practice on a national level.
Despite the heavy demands of Kerry’s leadership responsibilities and her client workload, she always finds time to prioritize business development.
So how does someone like Kerry incorporate business development into her daily life?
Here a few tips she recently shared with me:
Make it a part of your life. It will be more enjoyable and sustainable.
Try to connect with people who share common interests and hobbies, such as jogging, cycling, the arts, wine or kids’ events. It is hard enough for most people to find time for work and play. If you can find clients and prospective clients who enjoy similar interests, you will not only have a better chance of building more meaningful relationships, but you will also be more inclined to invest more of your precious time in business development.
Be empathetic, curious and selfless.
It helps to be interested in people and want to learn more about them. Give the other person the spotlight. Everyone has a story to tell. Let them tell it to you!
Consistency is important when developing relationships.
Staying in touch once a year doesn’t cut it if you want to build a meaningful relationship with someone. Research and take notes on what is important to your contacts. It will help you find more opportunities to stay in touch with them on a regular basis.
You must make time for it.
You don’t need to invest in business development every day, but almost every day. Even if it is just 10-15 minutes to send out a few emails to connect with some of your important contacts. The small investment of time on a regular basis can make a big difference in keeping your pipeline full over the year.
Adapt to today’s market.
The business development habits you might have used in the past might not be as effective for you today. Be aware of the changing market landscape and be ready to change your habits such as leveraging social media or joining more associations of interest. Go to where your network hangs out, not where you’re comfortable.
It goes without saying that Kerry is very good in her area of subject matter expertise. She was fortunate to realize early in her career that if she wanted to grow within her firm and eventually earn a seat in a leadership position that she needed to invest the time and energy in business development.