In today’s professional landscape, the surest path to success is authenticity. To set your firm apart from the competition, it must be the the truest and most authentic reflection of you.

Business development becomes so much easier if you truly believe in what you’re fighting for. You must understand who you are, what you stand for, and what you do well.

Bring your firm in line with your values

Ask yourself, what makes you, you? What is it that you value? And how can you communicate this to your clients?

Don’t limit yourself to what motivates you professionally. It’s important to take some time to think about your own personal values and where your individual interests lie. From here, you can work out ways to marry the two together.

Why? Because business development is the most successful when you are in your comfort zone, not out of it.

Many professionals make the mistake of trying to convince their clients that they’re someone they’re not. How many professionals think they’re “building client relationships” through taking their clients to a Rugby Union game when they’re actually a soccer fan? Or taking their most high-profile clients to the Basketball Grand Final when they’ve played Rugby their entire life? Your clients will sense your lack of passion. They’ll know you aren’t being yourself. In the end, the only thing you’re really achieving is making yourself look incompetent.

So how do you communicate your competence to your clients? Say perhaps you’re an avid sailor. You arrange to take your client’s out on the water to share your passion with them. What your client is going to see is you in your element, doing something you’re passionate about. How does this reflect on you? It makes you look competent, skilful and in control. Somebody your clients will want to work with. And you might find yourself enjoying the process along the way.

If you come from a place of authenticity, building your client base is no longer a chore. Rather than dreading business development opportunities, you’ll start to market yourself and your business consistently, regularly, and most importantly, authentically. The results will speak for themselves.

The 6 steps for achieving authenticity in business development:

  1. Screen your clients. Now you’ve reflected on your own values, it’s time to make sure your clients are up to scratch. If you’re going to run an authentic practice, be clear with who and what you’re looking for. List your client expectations online, create an intake process, and let go of existing clients who don’t share the same values and expectations as you.
  2. Blog. This is one of the simplest ways to communicate with your clients. Create content that reflects your personal values. Mix it with a little of your professional interests, and you’re set with a winning combination.
  3. Reflect on your personal mission statement. Write it down, know it, and practice it. Cringeworthy, I know. However, Mark Chinn, founder of a small and very successful legal practice, believes this is the best piece of advice he’s ever received, “it makes sure you are doing what you want to do.”
  4. Create evangelists for your firm. Track the path your client takes in reaching you. Who referred them to you? And who did they verify you with? Catch up with your referrers each week. Take them out for lunch or coffee. Ask them why they referred you, and let them know how much their referrals are appreciated. These relationships are gold. 
  5. Bring your marketing into line. Ever watched an ad on TV and had no idea what they’re trying to sell you? The same applies to marketing for your firm. How many times have you visited a website only to think that it doesn’t accurately reflect the business? Make it engaging. Marketing should be a true reflection of what you have to offer.
  6. Reach out. Reach out to charities and non-for-profits. Offer pro-bono work, fundraising support, branding opportunities, or perhaps even office space if required. Remember, you are the causes you support.

Want more?

Sue-Ella is the Principal of Prodonovich Advisory, a business dedicated to helping law and accounting practices sharpen their business development practices, attract and retain clients and become more profitable.Sue-Ella attended the 2017 LMA Conference in Las Vegas, so get in touch if you would like to find out more about the insights from the session.