Legal Business Development: MASTER IT!

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Master it! I can just hear some of you... "Easy for you to say!" It is easy for me to say because I believe it first starts with an attitude adjustment. Why SHOULD you develop a book of business? A book of business: puts you in control of your own destiny; you are not dependent on other lawyers to feed you; the focus that business development gives you helps you become better at client service; the benefits go on and on. So, finding mastery is a worthwhile endeavor. I just read an excerpt from bestselling author Robert Greene's new book... Mastery. His five steps make sense for lawyers.

"Step 1: Discover your calling. All of us are born unique. This uniqueness is marked genetically in our DNA. We are a one-time phenomenon in the Universe — our exact genetic makeup has never occurred before nor will it ever be repeated."

Lawyers cannot forget this. Yes, there are more than 6 million lawyers on this planet. While you may have lots of lawyers in your area practicing the same specialty you do, YOU are unique in the way you treat your clients, the experience you offer and the passion you bring to your work. Remember that!

"Step 2: Apprentice with intensity. After discovering your Life’s Task, you enter the most critical phase in your life — a practical education known as The Apprenticeship."

In the legal profession this is already the system. But we can take the thought a bit further for business development purposes. Learning shouldn't stop with your JD, with your status as a Shareholder, or your emergence as a successful rainmaker or anything in between. Last week I was speaking to a small firm of about 25 lawyers and challenged them to mentor each other. Not just the partners mentoring the associates how to network and make client presentations, but the young associates mentoring the partners on using LinkedIn and setting up Google alerts. Pick the brain of the individual who has the knowledge... no mater where that is.

"Step 3: Gain social intelligence. Often the greatest obstacle to our pursuit of mastery comes from the emotional drain we experience in dealing with the resistance and manipulation of the people around us. We misread their intentions and react in ways that cause confusion or conflict."

This is a tough one for lawyers because you tend to do what your peers are doing. AND don't tend to listen to clients or trust your own intuition as often as you follow what other lawyers and law firms are doing. So as you gather your intelligence be as open minded and openhearted as you can.

"Step 4: Awaken creative energy. As you accumulate more skills and internalize the rules that govern your field, your mind will want to become more active, seeking to use this knowledge in ways that are more suited to your inclinations.

After a lengthy apprenticeship, the counter tendency is to become conservative with what you know, to follow the paths others have forged. You have to force yourself from this position, continually challenging your own assumptions and not being afraid of failure or the criticisms that will come from experimenting with what you have learned."

The thought of being creative or innovative is counter-intuitive for most lawyers. You seek precedence and evidence. When it comes to business development break the rules. Break them often and vigorously. Find what works for YOU!

"Step 5: Develop high–level intuition. Throughout history we read of Masters in every conceivable form of human endeavor describing a sensation of suddenly possessing heightened intellectual powers after years of immersion in their field.

Since it has been shown that the brain is literally altered after approximately 10,000 hours of practice, these powers would be the result of a transformation that happens in the brain after some 20,000 hours and beyond. With this much practice and experience, all kinds of connections have been formed in the brain between different forms of knowledge."

This is the beauty of the legal profession. When you specialize in an area of practice you become the "go-to" lawyer and your intuition kicks in. Why not do the same in business development?

Most lawyers just dabble in business development. Set yourself apart from the 6 million lawyers on this planet and... Master it!