If you’ve been following along here at Zen for any length of time (or even just the last few weeks), then you’ll know that I love September and the promise of a fresh start that it brings (also because the fall is my favorite season).

A LOT of us have been feeling bogged down lately – by the pandemic, endless Zoom calls, heat and humidity, worldwide unrest, the list goes on. There is a lot that we CAN’T control. But there are some things we can control – for one, our attitudes and our ability to reach out and help someone else.

For today, let’s talk about business development and relationship building. I know it feels like that may be the LAST thing you want to do at this point in the year, but how about a fresh take on it? Remember that business development plan we’ve talked about? Review it, and see what tactics you HAVEN’T been using this year.  For example, have you been avoiding networking events? Rethink that for the fall – and yes, I know we’re still in a pandemic, so if you want to limit those to online events, that’s completely fine! I know we’re all zoomed out, but you can still get a lot out of a virtual event if you are conscientious about it.

Schedule one or two things for September – maybe one is a full-on networking function for an organization.  You can ease into it by starting with social media – look for ways to connect with people attending the same function in advance so that you don’t feel as if you’re walking into a room (or a virtual room) where you don’t know anyone.  Maybe another scheduled event is coffee with a potential client or a new client.  If you schedule them now, it will be harder to convince yourself that you’re too busy to do them once the dates roll around. Do it.

Maybe you’ve been considering expanding the type of work you do.  Start your research now. Look at LinkedIn to see what companies in that space are up to, and start following some of the clients you’d like to have. Put their industry events on your calendar as you see them. Identify and highlight the work that you’ve done in this space already on your social profiles and your firm bio.

Sign yourself up for RSS feeds for the top blogs and news publications in that industry, and start commenting when you have something valuable to add. This is a good time to start building.

This is also the perfect time to start a new habit.  It has been said that you need 21 days of doing something to make it a habit, so if you start today (or tomorrow), you’ll have the full month to create something new!

  • Start taking the train to the office instead of driving, and use this time to read industry news. I know that public transportation is still iffy in many places, so obviously, do this only if you feel safe doing so, and mask up!
  • Force yourself to take a coffee break each morning away from your desk (it doesn’t have to be away from the office). Read a blog post as you sip your coffee. If you’re working from home, walk away from your home office desk too – this is important because it’s too tempting to look at emails instead of taking that real break.
  • Change scenery each afternoon for ten or fifteen minutes – maybe take a walk around the office, or around the block. Get some fresh air. Do something that will break the afternoon slump, so you’ll come back to your desk refreshed.
  • Tell yourself you’re going to check LinkedIn first thing in the morning for five minutes, and engage with two or three people in some way each day. Set a timer, so that you’re intentional about the time.
  • Find one new person on Twitter to have a conversation with each day.
  • Start “crazy tie Tuesday” – yes, that sounds silly, but it will be a conversation starter, and you may even get to know people in your office you rarely talk to. They may even give you work someday. If you’re not in the office, do it on days when you know that you’ll be on a lot of video calls.
  • Make yourself take a younger partner to lunch every Friday. It can be the same younger partner or a different one. Do it to remind yourself what it was like when you were starting out, and to be a mentor to someone. If you’re not in the office, be intentional about “having lunch” over zoom with a younger partner or associate every Friday just to catch up, and remind yourself that although this seems like a time suck, these younger lawyers are missing out on a LOT by not being in the office as regularly as you were at the same point in your career.
  • Do an ice cream run – one of my favorite ILN attorneys (who passed away earlier this year) always loved ice cream and would check around the office each afternoon in the summer to find out if anyone wanted some.  He’d then do an ice cream run.  It’s a great way to meet people you may not usually talk to and to take a break. If you don’t have the time to do all of that, arrange for ice cream to be available in the conference room if the temperature rises above a certain point (a firm I presented at once does this).  You can then chat for a few minutes in the conference room while getting your scoop!

Doing any or all of these things will freshen our outlook and mindset, brush away the summer cobwebs, and give us the reboot we need to be more creative about the business development and relationship connections that are so important to our goals.

Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.