What business development lessons can lawyers and accountants learn from Billie Jean King?

16 Jul 2018

As a few of you may remember from previous posts I like a bit of Desert Island Discs.  As a self-confessed crate digger I am always interested in anyone’s record collection … and getting a glimpse of the memories along with the discs satisfies all of my incredibly nosey inclinations!

This week’s guest was Billie Jean King.  Alongside recollections of her obviously monumental human rights campaigning she shared something that immediately chimed with the Tenandahalf ethos.  Ms King told a story about having to deliver a motivational speech but admitted she didn’t have a clue what to say.  All she knew was she wanted to deliver 3 clear messages (itself part of the Tenandahalf presentation mantra).  She asked her mentor, the then CEO of DuPont, for advice and he said to use his 3 golden rules:

1  It all comes down to relationships

2  Always be willing to learn

3  Be a problem solver

I smiled to myself; I have been repeatedly told all 3 and repeatedly passed on all 3 (or a variation of) to colleagues and clients throughout my career.  And whether you are a lawyer, an accountant, a barrister or a patent or trade mark attorney, every point is absolutely pivotal to your business development success –

1  It really does all come down to relationships 

The easiest way to win new work is through referral.  Make sure you know who your key colleagues, contacts and clients are and develop a system that’ll make sure you’re always visible to them (in person when you can, on the phone in between times and on email during your busiest times). 

And always remain accessible and responsive and be generous with your time, advice and introductions.

2  Always be willing to learn

Yes, you have to keep up with your technical training but you need to be more today.  You need to be a rounded business person so get involved in whatever else is offered too. 

Most firms offer some form of IT, BD, social media, HR management, finance or commerce training.  Never think you know everything or that you’re too busy to attend; even if you only pick up one new thing you can use for your or your clients’ benefit, it will be time well spent.

3  Be a problem solver

There is no bigger drain on a group or meeting than the person who shakes their head whilst telling everyone else why something can’t be done.  Try and find a workaround, offer new ways to do something.  You won’t always get it right but you will be recognised as someone who genuinely contributes and that - coupled with the ability to form and manage relationships internally and externally – will set you on the fast track to promotion.

I always remember my father telling me “there are 2 types of lawyer; the ones who tell you that you can’t do it and the ones that tell you how to do it, which do you think we go to?”

And do you know what?  Taking that much more positive outlook will only have a positive effect on you.  You’ll feel a much greater sense of achievement than you would from simply regurgitating the rules.  And, because that approach offers your clients so much more value, you’ll have placed yourself in the best possible position for new work, new introductions and new referrals.

If you’d like to discuss how you could use these 3 rules (and a few more) to refresh your personal BD plan, drop me a line and we can find the right time for a coffee. 


Posted by Douglas  |   0 Comments

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