At some point over your legal career, you probably found a mentor, coach or advisor to help you navigate the legal landscape and to maneuver through rough waters. Everyone knows that you can advance in your profession much more quickly with help, rather than on your own. In fact, I can’t think of any successful person I know who can’t point to someone in his or her life that wasn’t the difference maker. For me, it was my coach, Keith, back in the early 2000’s. He was able to evaluate me as a business developer and identify my weaknesses and potential strengths like no one else. Within six months of working with him, I had locked up more business in less time than ever before. This experience led me to my true calling, helping ambitious attorneys rise to the top as skilled rainmakers.
Today, coaching and training on business development may not be a fit for everyone. For many executives, and now lawyers, there are peer-advisory groups that may be the wave of the future. My definition of “peer-advisory” is a collective of like-minded people who work together to share ideas, overcome challenges and provide accountability to accomplish their individual goals. If you think about it, most lawyers feel stuck and alone as it relates to business development (even the rainmakers). So, while it might be easy for lawyers to discuss case strategy or contract language, business development is rarely discussed.
I’ve had the great pleasure of running a number of attorney advisory groups over the past year and here are four unique benefits that are difference-makers for the attorneys who participate.
- Self-selection: In my experience working with thousands of attorneys, we can go back to the old 80/20 rule. Only about 20% of private practicing attorneys are interested or actively working to grow business. When looking to start or join an advisory group, only the true business developers will show up. This self-selection makes building a group challenging due to the low numbers, but the lawyers who do rise to the surface will be ready to engage. It’s like golfing with other passionate golfers or attending a rock concert with a bunch of raving fans. Everyone is interested and committed to being there together.
- Idea sharing: What happens when you put 7-10 highly committed business developers in a room to share ideas on business development, marketing, organization and time management? It’s pure magic! It is so refreshing to watch the interaction between my members contributing ideas, sharing experiences and providing direct strategic advice to one another. They are answering critical questions like, “How do you get the most out of a social media post on LinkedIn?” Or “What’s the best email structure to get a prospective client back who’s ghosting you?” Or “How do I balance all of my work when trying to grow my book of business?” The collective wisdom and interest in helping one another is simply amazing.
- The HOT SEAT: One of the best parts of a peer-advisory or mastermind group for attorneys is the use of the “hot seat.” While the language might sound menacing, I assure you the premise creates peace-of-mind and pure value for the participant. Every month, a different attorney is on the hot seat sharing his or her most challenging issue (just one). We follow a model that allows the partaker to explain in detail the issue being faced. The group then asks numerous questions to ensure the problem is fully demarcated. We then share suggestions and direct advice for improvements for the member to consider. Finally, the participant will repeat the points that really hit home and commit to taking action by a determined date (again, accountability). The best part is that many of the members share common issues, so more than the hot seat participant gets value from the exercise.
- Accountability: For many of my clients, this might be the best part of partaking in an advisory group of this nature. You have billable hour requirements for the year that you are accountable to meet. Where’s the responsibility to achieve your business development or origination goals? If it’s only within yourself, being accountable can be difficult. It’s like losing weight or exercising without a partner. What if you had one or two lawyers who held you accountable to send out those BD emails, attend that networking event or make that extra post on LinkedIn each week? How would that change the game for you? These peer-to-peer arrangements are critical to getting habits built to achieve your goals.
There are many ways to take action if you’re interested in leveraging these concepts. First, you can create your own group within your firm or outside of it with like-minded friends. Just find 3-5 other attorneys who are hungry for business like you are. Second, look online and see if there’s a group of lawyers or entrepreneurs that might have an existing group that you could join. It’s going to be pay-to-play, but most good things are. Lastly, feel free to check out my programs specifically designed for lawyers at all levels on my website. As you can see, peer-advisory isn’t for everyone. But it’s a terrific option for open-minded and motivated lawyers to generate support and gain control of one’s legal career.