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With so much (or so little) going on right now, business development is probably the last thing on your mind. So if you feel like you’re languishing, here are two things you can do that take just 10 minutes each to make sure your business development (BD) engine doesn’t stall.

Talk with a real person (and let them know they matter)

Unusual times like these provide the perfect opportunity to shift your relationships from the master-servant paradigm to one of interested (and interesting) friends.

Now that we’re working from home and doing everything online we’re seeing and hearing so much much more about each other’s personal lives. So why not dial in a few minutes before your next Zoom session and give yourself room to chat with your client or colleague before jumping into the agenda. 

Questions such as, “what’s been the highlight of your week?”, “what are you looking forward to next week?” or “what do you think the chances we’ll be let back into Queensland?” can all help kick-start the conversation, let you get to know each other better and help you break the feelings of isolation you’re both probably going through.

But it isn’t just employees who are having their mental wellbeing challenged right now. All the people in your firm’s ecosystem are going through the same thing too.  Those experts you engage – your lawyer, accountant, recruiter, the IT guy, barrister or banker – could also do with a ‘hello’. 

So give them a call to find out how they’re going. With so much uncertainty this is a good time to be kind to your service providers and suppliers. They’re likely to repay you tenfold.

Ditch one thing

When we’re faced with an imperfect situation or we’re overburdened with work, our brains usually try to fix the problem by adding new elements. (This is something Lidy Klotz talks about in this podcast).  We resist taking things away because that makes us feel like we’re lazy or failures. 

I’ve seen lots of BD plans from professionals who seem to add in more stuff each year. And I expect a lot will feel pressured to add more still as FY23 budget expectations ramp up.

But rather than keep giving ourselves more to do, now’s the time to empty some of the business-plan-bathwater out of the tub.

Make your next business plan update all about focusing on something you’ll get rid of. This could be something like a routine of unproductive coffee catch-ups or that networking group you didn’t really enjoy or halving the number of internal meetings you attend (after all, if you meet about everything then nothing is significant).

It could also be about taking 10 steps out of your 20-step new business pursuit plan. (Just cut to the chase).

If letting go seems too much, don’t go straight into the big-ticket items. Make progress on something that’s a ‘just manageable’ difficulty. (This article by Adam Grant tells you all about how to to do that.) Otherwise, take another tip from Grant and start a To-Don’t list.

Want more?

There you have it. Just 20-minutes and two activities that could make a big difference to your BD.

I’ll be releasing another five 10-minute tips next week. But if you have 45 minutes to spare and want a big BD win register now for a BD45 session.

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Sue-Ella is the Principal of Prodonovich Advisory, a business dedicated to helping professional services firms sharpen their business development practices, and attract and retain good clients.

Further Reading

Urban T (2013) Why Procrastinators Procrastinate and TEDTalk – 14 minutes (listed first because, well, it’s fun)

Csikszentmihalyi M (1998) Finding Flow:  The Psychology of Positive Engagement with Everyday Life

Frisch B & Greene C (2021) Make Time For Small Talk In Your Virtual Meetings. Harvard Business Review

Grant A (2021) How To Stop Languishing and Start Finding Flow  TEDTalk – 16 minutes

Grant A (2021) There’s A Name for the Blah You’re Feeling:  It’s Called Languishing. The neglected middle child of mental health can dull your motivation and focus – and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021. New York Times.

Hallowell E (2005) Overloaded Circuits: Why Smart People Underperform, Harvard Business Review

Morten Hansen (2019) How to Work Smarter not Harder

Klotz, L (2021) Our Resistance to Subtractive Change  Podcast -74 minutes.

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