3 Keys To Business Development Conversations That Don’t Sound Like The Same Old Bull

Honest dialogue can change things fast. It creates connections, seeds ideas, and is the critical thread in the fabric of relationship. It is about seeking to understand.

The fact that dialogue doesn’t come easy is one reason relationships are so difficult. Self-interest, posturing, and the need to be certain we make our case tend to frame much of what masquerades as conversation — in both the personal and professional context.

Then there is the fact that many pitch/presentation/proposal/business development conversations sound just like the one presented yesterday…and the one that will come tomorrow — seeming interchanble — deep experience, proven capability, blah, blah, blah.

And changing nothing.

But when it comes to business development, better conversations and on-going dialogue are differentiators.

So here are 3 ideas that, if implemented, will change the tone of any conversation.

1. Practice an “Intentional Listening” mindset.

This is listening with the intent to learn, versus an approach rooted in convincing, converting, selling or winning.

Some might argue that this is at odds with the process of business development and sales. Not so. The shortest path to new business is to connect with the concerns of your target. And the quickest way to identify these concerns is to listen far more than you talk. Think 4 or 5 to 1 if you need a benchmark. (This is why client interviews are so valuable — it’s an opportunity for the client to be heard.)

2. Know your Target’s story.

This is closely aligned with intentional listening. It encompasses listening to the data, diving into the research, understanding the industry and having an idea of the challenges of the specific business. The conversation (or pitch) that focuses on your qualifications and capabilities sounds like the pitch of every other provider in the marketplace.

On the other hand, ask the right questions — instigate a deep dive into the issues that matter most to your Target — and you’re on the road to productive dialogue. There are no cookie-cutters; but here are three ideas around questions that touch on what might be top-of-mind for your prospect.

  • What are the greatest roadblocks to success in the near term?
  • What does success over the next three to five years look like?
  • What one or two issues would you most like to see disappear?

3. Build a bridge to the next conversation.

In a quality relationship the next conversation can seem to pick up right where the last one ended. The best conversations are part of an on-going dialogue. Almost everyone experiences this at a personal level.

When it comes to business relationships, try approaching every conversation with the goal of building a bridge to the next.

The best business you develop — the business that is most rewarding and most likely to endure — will come in the context of great relationships. And quality relationships are the by-product of better conversations.

How Rainmakers End Up In The Right Place At The Right Time

Confused Businessman Looking At Arrows Pointing In Different DirectionsRainmakers seem to have an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time. How do they pull this off?

In fact, it is far from happenstance. The epitome of strategic business development and marketing is increasingly about executing a plan that connects with those most likely to influence or execute a buying decision.

What is the makeup of such a strategy? What are those individuals and teams doing that repeatedly creates a timely intersection with opportunity?

Here are five keys to a strategy that eliminates the guesswork around where to go, when to be there, and what to do or say when the opportunity is presented.

1. Identify A Target

Consistently being in the right place begins with smart targeting — knowing specifically with whom you want to connect, and the role each target plays in the development of your professional network.

Strategic targets fall into four categories.

  • Individuals (or carefully selected groups) in a position to serve as a referral source. Consider former clients, other professional advisors, and those in a position to know or be connected to those likely to seek the service you provide.
  • Individuals ready to recommend you as a source for the professional service you provide. This should certainly cover past clients; but it may also include a broader group of colleagues in a position to attest to your trustworthiness.
  • Individuals who can provide business intelligence and/or “coaching” insights with respect to those who might hire you.
  • And those in a position to actually make the hiring decision.

One additional note about target identification — it is about naming names. Industry segments, companies and broad general descriptions don’t count. A strategic target is an individual with whom you can build a professional relationship. And that individual has a name. If you’re having difficulty with target identification, this is a signal that your network needs some attention.

2. Learn What Your Target Cares About

Once a target has been identified, those who make business development seem natural invest the time and energy necessary to learn what is important to the target.

Put simply — great business developers listen before they speak (or pitch).

What concerns your targets most? What will determined success? What hinders productivity? What keeps them up at night?

An understanding of the industry or sub-industry coupled with business intelligence that identifies the challenges and opportunities being faced by your target will help shape efforts to connect and communicate.

3. Plan Strategic Visibility

This is the being in the right place part of the equation. Forget guessing about what networking events to attend or sponsor. Take the mystery out of when and where (or whether) to invest in an ad, or what role social media should play in your strategy. Should you be blogging? Speaking more?

The options for creating and maintaining visibility are many, and each can be seductive. Strategic visibility is about connecting with the targets you’ve named — as opposed to scatter shooting at the broad side of a barn.

Make visibility more than the dispensing of content by incorporating collaborative opportunities. Sharing the podium, participating on a panel, or even white-board brainstorming. Interviews and focus groups offer opportunities to listen carefully…and communicate volumes about what it is like to work with you.

4. Build Equity

Simply being visible — the fact that the marketplace might know who you are and what you offer — doesn’t constitute relationship. And it is no guarantee a path will be beaten to your door. In a competitive marketplace the professional services practice grows and is sustained by professional relationship equity.

This equity comes from the value you bring to the table. And while work product must certainly measure up, the definition of equity-building value is much broader.

It is not unlike what is required in the context of personal relationship: intentional listening; the absence of an agenda (a focus on the interests of the other); and on-going dialogue. Use this as the formula, and your efforts will transcend the average business development effort, and generate the kind of equity that builds a practice and engenders loyalty.

5. Give It Time

Rewarding relationships are not built with a single act, in the context of an anecdote or the process of a pitch. If you’re looking for bottomline impact in the near term, here’s hoping you’ve been maintaining visibility and delivering value to qualified targets for some time now.

As for the plan you’re developing today, count on investing some time. Plenty of potentially effective efforts are doomed thanks to the expectation that a vibrant and relevant network can be created out of thin air.

Productive networks do not materialize overnight. And the kind of relationships that a stable practice is built upon do not typically fall into your lap. Bring your best creative energies and resources to the strategic identification of targets, and the creation of experiences that deliver value. Then stick with it long enough to let the seeds of relationship take hold.

These five ideas are the foundational principles of a business development plan that will put you in the right place at the right time with the right message. It is far from a matter of luck.

Don’t Look Now, But Things May Be About To Change

Changing for ideaFew will argue the inevitability of change. But there is plenty of debate about the degree to which it might land at our front door and impact our reality.

We proclaim intellectual acceptance with lines like the only constant is change. Or the poignant if you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.

But the longer the cornerstones of our personal status quo seem unaffected, the easier it is to believe that our reality is secure, and the disruptive aspects of a changing market will not touch what we do or how we do it in material ways.

Meanwhile the list of cautionary tales is familiar.

Typesetters were confident that software could never replicate the precision necessary to make the printed page a readable work of art.

Eastman Kodak, among other things, refused to accept the idea that digital technology might turn the world of film on its head.

And it is not like we’re talking the shift from horse-and-buggy to the motorcar. The US automobile industry, retail shopping, public transportation, and the entertainment arena are full of recent case studies that speak to the consequences of failing to change — nevermind, innovate.

Yet, until foundation-shaking momens encroach on our space — usually manifest in an undeniable dent in the bottom line — we seem to be able to see shifting sands all around while dismissing the possibility that the cornerstones of our house might be showing cracks.

In the mid-1990’s I was engaged in film and video production. As digital video was gaining footing in the industry, I had multiple conversations with sales and marketing folks connected to Kodak and other major film companies. While there was grudging acknowledgement of the existence of video, the deeply held conviction was that the cold and flat imagery made instantly possible by digital engineering would never replace the quality and rich warmth of processed film.

The brick-and-mortar retail industry watched (and provided plenty of commentary) as an upstart called Netflix began to change the way we accessed entertainment. Case studies point to the mistakes made by Blockbuster, punctuated by shrugging off an acquisition attempt from Netflix. Yet shopping centers, malls and giant retail outlets seem to be caught completely off-guard by the disruption of Amazon.

The blind spots must be human nature. In the past the change was often so slow that we don’t think of it a that disruptive brand of change — like the way we go about many of the tasks we’ll tackle today. A half-dozen years ago most of us would never have thought of using software to hail a ride to the airport.

It is pretty obvious that introducing and accepting change will always come with pain. Perhaps this should serve as an early warning sign if we’re rocking along relatively pain free today. History seems to suggest that it will be easy to ignore the degree to which change will impact us. Probably sooner rather than later.

It will always be easy to dismiss predictions about a future yet to unfold.

There are (probably) cogent arguments as to the limits to how much change will really impact us. There are, after all, things that technology will never be able to accomplish — right? (Say, for example, a self-driving car…) But the market will change. Perhaps it will come with a slight shift here, and an almost unnoticeable dent there. In some corners it will almost certainly come with a bang. And as has always been the case, the future will belong to those who instigate and embrace the ideas of adaptation and movement . . . and construct new cornerstones before the ones on which we rely crumble around us.

Farewell To A True Professional

IMG_0450When I met Henry Gilchrist he was in his mid-seventies. Those of us that came along in those days weren’t around when he was doing deals for Texas oil man Clint Murchison; or as he conceived and structured a unique funding deal to create Texas Stadium; or while he was point person on high profile issues for the Dallas Cowboys.

But no matter the time or place, anyone privileged to work with Mr. Gilchrist knew they were dealing with a consummate professional.

His reputation as a corporate lawyer preceded him. But the characteristic that made him a rare breed of professional was the way he treated a person. Any person. Partner. First year associate. Secretary. Or member of the staff.

Henry Gilchrist passed away Saturday, May 6 at the age of 92…just eight months after he finally retired.

There are scores of stories that underscore the humanity of this gentle lion. One of my favorites was told to me during an interview with Roger Hayse, who worked with Mr. Gilchrist for more than 25 years at the law firm of Jenkens & Gilchrist.

As the business manager and financial officer of the firm, Roger was made aware that the firm’s honor-system approach to a snack closet was, in short, getting ripped off — falling short of collecting the appropriate sum for chips, candy and the like. Upon closer examination, Roger detected that enormous amounts of chewing gum were being scarfed up at an impossible pace.

In order to put a stop to the gum-thief, Roger planned to lock the heretofore unlocked closet, forcing anyone wanting a snack to request the key and handle payment with an assistant.

It was during a meeting with Mr. Gilchrist, as Roger proudly outlined his plan to put an end to this chewing gum expense, that he came face-to-face with the priorities of Henry Gilchrist.

“Roger, that sounds as it it will solve the issue of employees taking snacks without paying. But I want you to let me know the day the lock is on that closet; that will be my last day with this law firm. I will not be part of a firm that tells its employees they are not trusted.”

People were drawn to Henry Gilchrist — corporate giants, entrepreneurs, and your average run-of-the-mill guy in marketing. Being a great lawyer was part of the equation, for sure. Having his name on the letterhead opened doors, no doubt.

But Henry Gilchrist never lost sight of the value of an individual. He quietly helped and encouraged wherever he saw the opportunity. In victory as well as in difficult hours his humility was palpable. And he treated everyone he met with respect and dignity.

This is the stuff of the consummate professional.

Rest In Peace, Henry. Your influence lives on.

Waiting (And Hoping) For A Silver Bullet

Large Silver BulletTo the degree that it is human nature, it is understandable. On the other hand, to the degree that it is a distracting resource drain, it significantly limits effective business development.

“It” is the search for a Silver Bullet.

From social media to the newest technology, from what’s hot in creative execution to the flavor-of-the-month strategy or consultant, the hope that something new holds the key to what ails us may be the reason we always seem to be starting over. Needed focus gives way to fits and restarts with every new “opportunity.”

Sure…there are times when being athletic enough to shift direction in order to pursue a new opportunity can be an asset. But we shouldn’t mistake it for a strategy.

In a recent spot-on post Kathryn Whitaker speaks to a preoccupation with the next big thing…at the expense of doing the right thing as it relates to current tasks and opportunties.

Notwithstanding the value of innovation, often what is at play here is the hope for a faster, less painful approach to the difficult (not to mention, time consuming) work of connecting, listening, and building productive relationships.

In moments when you wonder at the advances made by competitors, or are mystified by an inability to leverage your investments in business development, consider these two simple tenets:

  1. Focus wins.
  2. An important measure of strategy is how often you resist the siren song, and say No.

Few organizations are flexible enough to make any progress while reacting to every great opportunity. Before we alter course in order to take advantage of the next big thing, consider that while we might refer to it as opportunistic, we may have a business development strategy that is little more than waiting (and hoping) for a shiny new silver bullet.

Who Is Really The Smartest One In The Room?

three chimpanzees having a meetingEveryone has amazing insight.

It’s true. At some point, on some topic, almost everyone will have a moment of clarity worth sharing.

The challenge, at least as it relates to productive dialogue, is that many of us believe the frequency and scope of the insight we possess to be so grand as to warrant the lion’s share of attention in any given room.

But when was the last time any of us was engaged in an interaction — profound or not — where the objective of everyone in the room was to listen, intent on learning?

If you’ve been in that kind of room it probably left a mark. There is dynamism there. When gaining (versus sharing) insight is the goal, ideas flow easier. Solutions serm to emerge more quickly. But listening rooms are scarce. After all, territory must be staked. Turf marked.

An Idea

Pick the most stressful or contentious interaction you’ll face in coming days. What would change if the objective of everyone involved was to listen? No agendas. No winners or losers.

There are plenty of reasons not to go down this road. Where’s the practicality? Someone has to lead. And besides, I’m expected to come to the table with a point-of-view, experience and expertise.

But what might happen if I were to become a point of listening?

If you want to introduce a rare dynamic into difficult conversations, try making a point of listening rather than worrying about sharing your point of view. Unless you’re in unusual company, no one really hears — or gets — your point of view anyway. Not because it isn’t brilliant; but because while you’re talking we’re only half-listening as we formulate what we’ll say next.

(Double down on the above paragraph if the objective of the one doing most of the talking is to convince, convert, defend or defame.)

And if the fear is that listening displays weakness or affords unfair advantage to another’s point of view, consider the possibility that there’s not much listening going on in a room where the primary concern is winning.

Real listening is an intentional and difficult act. It stems from a commitment to learn, and a relentless search for a bridge that connects us…even over enormous chasms.

When I believe my insight is ultimate, and that the room is best served when I broadcast my point of view, I should not be surprised when the only ones paying attention are those who share my view…and nothing changes.

There is rarely a shortage of talk. But when the talk accomplishes little, there may be a shortage of intentional listening.

In relationships with family, co-workers, friend or foe, maybe the key to the change and progress we seek lies in having the courage and discipline to listen…to find the elements necessary to build a bridge to the next conversation.

The Most Important Conversation Yet

Yellow speech bubblesIf you want to test the viability of your approach to business development (or maybe even the quality of your most valued relationships), few questions will reveal more than this one: “Have I built a bridge to the next conversation?”.

When considering business development and marketing efforts in today’s environment, the temptation — in fact, the easy thing to do — is invest significantly in opportunities that create visibility. A big media push, a social media presence, email “blasts” at the drop of a hat, killer events, sponsorships, even charitable contributions — the tendency is to do whatever the checkbook will absorb. We need to “have our name out there.”

The issue is not that these channels aren’t viable, even valuable when it comes to growing a potential market. They are. But visibility alone rarely equates to effective business development.

The problem is the degree to which visibility efforts — advertising, social media posts, event sponsorships and the like —  exhaust the business development or marketing plan. Write the check. Get our name out there. Then sit back and wait.

And wait.

Here’s What Is Missing

Talk to any rainmaker, and (usually sooner rather than later) s/he will make the point that business development boils down to relationships. People hire those they know and trust. And unless you’re aware of a way to get to “know and trust” absent some interaction, then creating visibility and awareness is only the first step in the process.

Relationships (hence, successful business development efforts) revolve around a series of multi-faceted and on-going interactions. Some are professional. Some will almost certainly be personal.

If you’re not having ongoing conversations, you might want to take stock of the relationship.

Sure…not every piece of business you get will be connected to a great relationship. If you’re present in the marketplace, are building relationships and the reputation that accompanies excellence, you’ll increasingly find yourself in the right place at the right time.

But long-term clients — those that stick with you through thick and thin, and call you no matter what, do so because they trust you.

So make your visibility play as robust as you possibly can. Then be certain your plan maps the investment and action steps necessary to build a bridge to the next conversation. Otherwise you’re doing little more than hoping something prompts your target market to come to you. And this is increasingly rare in a competitive and volatile marketplace.

Strategic marketing — a smart investment in efforts to connect with carefully selected targets — includes a plan of action that facilitates on going dialogue. Conversation after conversation.

Because in the context of relationship, the next conversation is the most important one yet.

My Market Used To Come To Me!

Thumb twiddling

“Describe your ideal target client,” I asked.

After shooting me a look that said that is the dumbest question I’ve ever heard, the law firm partner said, “My ideal client is the next person that walks into my office or calls me on the phone in need of a lawyer.”

Translation: “My market comes to me.” Because of the school I attended, the experience I’ve accumulated, the firm in which I’m a partner, the reputation I’ve built. And because that’s the way it has always been — go to law school, hang a shingle, do good work…for decades that was the formula for the creation of a solid practice.

That conversation took place nearly twenty years ago, in the early days of my first law firm business development gig. Boy have things changed.

The new normal has turned into the status quo.

But for many professional service providers one thing that hasn’t changed is the belief that if I put the right pieces in place and do good work, the market will sort through all the competition, and find me.

Few will argue that the market isn’t what it used to be. And outstanding professionals wake up each morning wondering what to do.

But if the only time we turn attention to marketing, business development or sales is when there is a fear things might be slowing down — or worse yet, after the slow-down has begun — three things are likely true. The actions taken:

  • are reactive in nature, and therefore not strategic;
  • solve few, if any of the short term challenges, and none of the real issues;
  • are decidedly frustrating.

And you’re still left hoping the market will walk through your door.

When the strategic identification of opportunities is given twenty minutes at a meeting once-a-quarter (whether you need it or not), don’t expect change. If plans to pursue specific targets aren’t part of a regular focus, call it what you will; but the approach to organic growth is to hope the market comes to you.

If integration or cross selling is left to chance — meaning there is no framework or process that ensures steps are taken that match capabilities with needs — don’t hope to magically benefit from the relationships your partnership enjoys with key clients.

If a system for religiously gathering and assessing feedback from clients and prospects does not exist, don’t be surprised when good — even long-term clients — leave you in favor of individuals or teams that are proactive in the marketplace.

If succession isn’t the subject of on-going conversations long before senior partners are about to retire, don’t be surprised when future leaders in your firm are restless, and when long-term clients evaporate as an inevitable changing of the guard takes place inside the client’s organization.

If innovative conversations around inclusion and diversity are initiated only in the wake of market pressures, be prepared to lose ground to others, and to have the same conversations year after year.

Pick Your Cliche

Put your money where your mouth is. We measure what matters. What you do speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say.

Take your pick.

The truth is that an organization concerned with strategic growth reflects this in its priorities. Not once a quarter, or once a month, or when it looks like budget might be missed.

Where the dynamics of marketing, business development, sales and organizational development are understood, the disciplines are not bound by a department. Nor are they confined to bullet-points on an agenda.

A marketing culture, an enduring brand, and growth through strategic business development efforts are not the byproducts of occasional conversation.

And the enterprise interested in seeding such a culture succeeds by virtue of the proactive attention requisite to the highest priority.

Wondering How To Turn Connections Into Relationships?

netIf you’re marketing something, you’re likely investing resources in the development of connections. Social strategies, networking events, content marketing efforts…there is a long cafeteria line of tools, strategies and processes designed to get you connneted.

Then what?

Business development is about relationships. Not connections. Or fans. Or followers. Real honest-to-goodness-relationships.

Today’s tools make establishing a connection relatively easy. Building a relationship is a different story. And no matter how effective the visibility strategy might be — no matter how many followers, fans or subscribers you have — if the next part of the equation isn’t in place, we’re missing the real opportunity.

Do it right, and a single event can yield scores of business cards. Devote some time and it is possible to connect with hundreds of thousands via social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Add a budget to the mix and it is possible to put together a list that would tempt any marketer to play the numbers game.

But if the goal is to build a professional service practice, it is a mistake to think a connection is anything more than a start. Relating with a target client  almost always requires two things — dialogue and shared experience. And for many this is where it gets tricky.

If we misunderstand what constitutes dialogue, or underestimate the critical role it plays in building and maintaining relationships, we’re in for a long and likely frustrating journey.

Is Anyone Listening?

The problem — or at least part of the problem — is the way we think about marketing communication. We invest significantly in the delivery of our message — web sites, email marketing campaigns, and YouTube videos that, with varying degrees of effectiveness, present what we do and how we do it.

Even when the story is well told, this is more often than not one dimensional message dissemination.

(Sidebar: attempts to infer relationship in a message delivery device — like dropping in a line at the beginning of your email that says “Hi Eric…I hope you’re doing well” — are transparent and ineffective.)

Relationship requires listening. Efforts that fail to get beyond the connection phase and deliver measurable ROI are likely lacking a listening component.

In fact, the most effective messaging begins with intentional listening. For years the successful marketing organization has invested in researchlistening — designed to identify what might prompt the market to buy.

Effective professional service marketers and business developers create and facilitate opportunities to hear and understand the target client’s story.

This is where the investment in connections pays off. Engage your connections as opposed to constantly distributing your story. In the midst of skillful and intentional listening connections become clients, and clients become real fans.

What do we do to leverage our connection efforts, and turn contacts into relationships? It begins with investing at least as much time listening as we invest in the creation and delivery of our message. If you want to see measurable results from the investments in making contact, begin with intentional listening with a few carefully selected targets.

In fact, ask the right two or three questions, listen closely, and the market will tell you exactly what it takes to move from contact to relationship.

If Business Development Seems Like A Mystery To You…

Open door to dark room with bright light shining in. Background Illustration.Successful business development is not a big mystery. Anyone who has been seriously working on the issue for very long has a good idea what is required. Precise process can vary. Termonology can differ; but it is not rocket science. In substance, in virtually any arena, business development is about the same thing.

Create visibility and deliver value to a target market; listen and learn what drives your target; and then connect the value you provide with what your market cares about.

Sure, you can leverage efforts by being more strategic (and we’ve explored it plenty in other posts); but follow the above formula in a sustained fashion and you’re on your way.

There are plenty of resources that will provide advice on some of the questions. What does a viable target look like? How do you decide where to network? Should you blog and/or engage in the social media arena? Should you speak? Where should you speak? What should you write about? What do you talk about at those networking functions?

It is easy to find good advice and helpful tools.

So, if the formula is simple; and support is readily available, this begs a question. Or two.

Why do we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with what to do and where to go with our business development efforts? Why do we feel like we’re continually starting from scratch?

If business development isn’t rocket science (it isn’t), and if the nuts-and-bolts of a good plan are easily knowable (they are), why aren’t we making any progress?

If you’re thinking it is because the budget isn’t big enough, or the market just doesn’t know we’re here, or our website is the wrong color combination, or rates aren’t right — and the list could go on — if this is what you’re thinking, I’m betting business development will continue to seem mysterious.

Here is what is missing most of the time — business development just isn’t important enough.

Soften the language if need be. But the issue is often as simple as this just isn’t a priority. Until time is short.

You know you should make it a priority, but it is impossible to find the time. Until all you have is time. Intellectually it is not difficult to process the fact that waiting on the market to find you, or depending on others to send you work is not a good long term strategy. But the truth is that even with a slow-down here and there, things have worked pretty well.

And networking, speaking, writing, planning and doing the other things that you sense you should do is uncomfortable and difficult.

Most of the time the fact is that it simply hasn’t risen to an appropriate level of importance. The platform isn’t burning. Yet.

Not everyone is a rainmaker. But here’s what I’m fairly certain of: anyone committed and disciplined enough to begin by investing four hours a week can make this the year that the business development light comes on.

That’s not all it takes. This isn’t the BD version of “get-your-six-pack-abs-in-five-minutes. We didn’t say it was a piece-of-cake. We said it isn’t rocket science.

Where to begin?

Here are four ideas we’ve seen work for others.

1. Take stock of your network. Business development is about relationships. Your acquaintances, connections, friends and colleagues are your greatest assets. Create a list in a systematic way. But don’t put it off. Get your contacts in order.

2. Identify three (3) initial targets. Study the list of contacts you’ve whipped into shape, and pick three that can hire, refer, recommend and/or coach/counsel you. Choose wisely (smart targeting is a predictor of future biz dev success).

3. Initiate strategic visibility by connecting dots. Do some research and be creative here. If you’re beginning from scratch think about the content your targets are concerned with. Brainstorm around the people and organizations your targets are connected to. Then begin searching for ways to connect those dots. A communication plan that calendars specific action items is a valuable asset.

4. Don’t give up. Working on your list isn’t fun; and it won’t feel like progress early on. But stick with it. Building relationships, figuring out ways to deliver value and stay connected isn’t second nature to most of us. And (unless you are lucky) you won’t see much progress for a while. But stick with the four hours a week.

Two things will happen. Making the investment will become something a little closer to second nature. Or at least a part of your routine. And you’ll begin to see ways to leverage opportunities. You’ll find ways to convert those four hours into the time it takes to grow a practice.

The first step to business development success is to make it a real priority, devoting time and energy as if the future of your practice depends on it.

And this time next year you won’t be starting over. Again.