I am often asked to run short training sessions at legal, accountancy and surveying practices with the aim of helping young professionals start their business development activities in support of the firm’s marketing and business development programmes. Here is a summary of some of the ideas provided:
Be a good Ambassador
You are a walking, talking advertisement for your firm. Everyone you speak to – whether in a work or social context – will form an impression of the firm from the way you act. Regardless of your particular specialism, people will expect you to be familiar with what your firm is doing across all its departments and specialisms. Make sure you are aware of the firm’s vision and strategy and its key messages. Chat to colleagues in other departments to learn about their key clients, services and projects. Take time to read the firm’s web site and keep up to date with new developments by reading newsletters and blog posts.
Participate in internal marketing
Part of being a good Ambassador is keeping in touch with what those in other departments do – and by promoting the services of your team to them. Building trust amongst your colleagues will encourage them to cross refer clients and work to you. Having an up to date CV makes it easier for them to include you in tenders. Attending their departmental meetings will provide you with a deeper insight into what they do and why they do it so well. And don’t be shy – if you are aware of something interesting or working on a great project or case, send an email or call them to let them know. And if other teams arrange internal or external events, ask if you can attend.
Make sure that your profile entries on the firm’s intranet and web site are up to date. Keep your social media profile up to date – especially on LinkedIn. Be as specific as you can about what you do and who for (bearing in mind whatever client confidentiality issues might constrain this). Tell people what you are working on. Take time to introduce yourself to your colleagues at the firm’s events. Speak up at meetings and share ideas.
Communicate and publicise
There is always work to do in updating sections of the firm’s web site – volunteer to help – you may assist in ensuring that your firm and team’s entries remain high in the search engine lists. Provide short articles for your firm’s newsletters, briefing sheets, client alerts or blogs. If you think that a client or case is newsworthy speak to the marketing or PR advisers to see if a press release or article for external media might be appropriate. If your firm uses Twitter, see if there are topics on which you can provide tweets.
Develop relationships with clients
Your first priority has to be to deliver excellent service to your clients. And you should remain alert to any problems or opportunities that you learn about and advise the relevant partner. But try to get closer to your clients – set up Google Alerts so that you remain aware of their public announcements. Read their web site, annual report, brochures and social media feeds so that you become more familiar with their business. Read their trade and technical press and email them links to articles that might be of interest to them to show that you are keen to support them grow their business.
Make time to socialise with your peers at clients – even if it is just for a chat over a cup of coffee at the end of the meeting. Request introductions to other people there so that you broaden your range of contacts there and investigate how you get invitations to appropriate events that they may organise. If you are attending conferences and exhibitions, see if they are going too and offer to accompany them – or obtain tickets for them if this is possible. For larger client organisations, find out what sports events they support and see if you can organise for your firm to play them.
Identify the relevant professional, trade, business, sector and local associations and clubs and explore membership. Find out about your firm’s rules on financial and time contributions towards your regular attendance at such meetings. Make sure you have a good introduction and/or elevator speech, enter the contact details of people you meet in the firm’s database or CRM system and organise yourself to make the relevant follow up calls and stay in touch with those who are likely to be of most interest in the future. Connect online as soon as possible – like and share their contributions where appropriate. Develop networking skills.
When you attend conferences for training and education purposes, make the most of the refreshment breaks to talk to other delegates, speakers and exhibitors. Hone your networking and follow up skills. Consider whether there are any lower level events where you might provide a short presentation or paper. Write internal reports and blog entries on what you have learned so that others may also benefit.
Maintain relationships with referrers and intermediaries
Seek out your peers at the other professional firms who serve your clients and operate in your market. Spend time getting to know what they do and about their interests. Offer to accompany them to industry and other events and invite them along to events at your firm that might be relevant. Keep details on any central referrer and intermediary list that your firm may operate and enter their details on your firm’s database so that they are kept up to date with bulletins and newsletters. If you are asked to attend events, do a little research into their firm and try to find areas where you have mutual interests. Organise socials.
Support new business development initiatives
Ask your departmental head if you can see a copy of any marketing and business development plans and volunteer to assist with any research or analysis tasks. When tenders are received, offer your help in collating and drafting material or in helping to prepare presentations. Listen attentively when marketing and business development is discussed at team meetings and offer any suggestions and ideas that you might have. Keep an eye on what competitors are doing and share any insights.
Discuss with your departmental head or marketing/BD department what appropriate training there might be for young professionals and find out where your firm keeps information on clients, services and events that might be helpful. Learn to use the firm’s client and contact database or CRM so that you can manage your contact information. Request help in developing your own personal marketing plan that support the aims of the firm and department’s overall business development activities.