Tuesday, July 26, 2016

6 Ways to Make Your Attorney Retreat a Business Development Success

Most firms have an annual attorney retreat of some type: all lawyers, all partners, all associates, etc. These events provide attendees with a chance to reconnect with colleagues, learn about new client successes, hear how the firm is doing, and generally have a good time in the company of friends. But firm retreats also present a great opportunity for each and every attorney to enhance their business development efforts. Here are six ways to do that:

  1. Schedule your meetings.
    Yes, you'll probably talk to most of the people you already know, those you've been waiting a year to catch up with, those who owe you a drink. But unless you actually reach out to the people you need to see – before you get there – you are probably going to miss a few of the colleagues that could be in a position to give you work one day.
  2. Do your homework.
    Want to work for some of your firm's marquee clients? It's not enough to tell the relationship lawyer that “you're available.” You need to express real interest in working with her client, tell her about work you've done for other clients in similar situations, and most importantly describe how you could help solve problems that her client is currently going through. That means doing your homework, and figuring out how you could actually help her client save money / avoid litigation / etc.
  3. Fine-tune your story.
    The elevator speech is alive and well. And having a good one is probably as important at the retreat as it is at any networking event: because there will be a lot of competition for the eyes and ears of those colleagues you're trying to reach, you need to be able to tell your story – that which makes you interesting – quickly and concisely.
  4. Be friendly and interesting.
    Your colleagues – just like your clients – want to work with people they like. So put on a happy face, smile, laugh, and enjoy yourself, because those are the traits that will ensure you get phone calls from fellow attorneys.
  5. Get out and mingle.
    Client emergencies aside, there's no reason you should spend the whole retreat locked in your room or the hotel's business center. It's OK to get away to recharge your batteries, of course, but a big part of why the firm is sending you to the meeting is to get to know and improve your relationships with your colleagues.
  6. Think big.
    More likely than not, every initiative you cook up with your colleagues at the retreat isn't going to come to fruition. All the more reason to think big, and set some big-picture business development goals that are going to take time and effort and meaningful intent to bear fruit. You might not get to them all, but you'll probably find that working together to achieve some challenging objectives leads you down paths to work you might never have considered. 

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