Business Development


Business Development:

How to ask for business? Ask the experts from the Legal Marketing Association

OSBA Staff
Columbus, OH

Asking for business can feel uncomfortable
many people have a fear of coming across as desperate or awkward. However, according to Valerie Nelan, a business development manager at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, it is important to take the first steps in asking close friends and acquaintances. These people want to help you succeed. Also, make it known exactly what you do, and take advantage of any niche areas. Nelan also emphasizes researching the industry of a potential client and asking them specific questions about their business. This allows for an opening to offer your services. Additionallythere is value in introducing clients, prospects and other lawyers in your circle, as they will often return your altruism. 

Seth Apple, a business development manager at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, 
says to use the “demonstrate, display and describe” method when asking for business. First, demonstrate: express your interest in a potential client’s industry and show your awareness of issues in that industry by recommending business, forwarding newspaper articles, recommending relevant books, etc. Next, display: invite potential clients for a seminar, offer a webinar on a critical issue or provide an in-house CLE to show your knowledge and engagement. And finally, describe: tell how you can assist potential clients in a unique way. Research their company and needs and use these to come up with specific business development activities. 

According to Kevin Sullivan, the CMO of Fisher & Phillips LLP, 
avoid directly ask for businessrather, make yourself a resource for lawyers in other areas of the law. Be available to offer guidance on areas outside of their expertise, and make a similar offer to potential clients. Through offering “free” service, you are showcasing your knowledge and readiness to help others. Communicate regularly with your network so you that are remembered as a priority resource. Your efforts will pay off, as you will be perceived as someone who is easygoing and dedicated to client service.