How to Change Your Business Development Strategy During Social Distancing

There’s a lot that’s challenging about running businesses right now. That goes for law firms, too. From bar association events to volunteer activities and networking, in-person events have given lawyers valuable leads for decades. 

So what do you do when you can’t actually see people? How can you stay in front of – and top-of-mind for – referral sources and leads?

Check-in with your referral list

Let’s face it – people have a lot on their minds right now. There’s been a good deal of reprioritization. Through no fault of your own, you may not be top-of-mind for all of your referral networks. That is unless you put in the virtual legwork. 

Successful networking is about building relationships, experts say. Gary Burnison, the CEO of Korn Ferry, says: “If you want to be successful at networking, you must keep in mind that it really isn’t about you. It’s about building relationships—and relationships aren’t one-way streets.”

Where do you begin? The best way to start is to make a list of all ways you can help people in your network: connecting people, sharing resources, contributing expertise. Even giving someone in your network a shoutout or a virtual pat on the back can be a meaningful way to strengthen relationships. 

Once you’ve done this? Reach out! 

Drop an email or a LinkedIn message. Ping them on WhatsApp. Even give them a quick call. The important thing is that you make a connection.

Digital outreach

While you need to keep in personal contact with your referral list, there’s a lot to be said for the wider range of digital outreach. If you already have a system in place for this, great! No need to reinvent the wheel. 

But if you’ve avoided getting involved in digital outreach, it’s never too late. More people are spending more time online than ever. Looking for an entry point?

  • Get an email newsletter up and running
  • Immerse yourself in the Twitter-verse (or whatever social platform you’re more engaged in)
  • Participate in an AMA
  • Seek out a guest blogging opportunity

Successfully taking on digital outreach means having a solid understanding of your niche and your audience. Do market research to determine what resources or help would add value for those in your network. 

Make sure your digital presence is fully operational

More people are spending more time online than ever before. In the course of building relationships with people, they will visit some aspect of your digital presence. You have fewer opportunities to correct any misperceptions right now, so head them off by having a well-edited, up-to-date online presence. 

It’s essential that you have all relevant information not just up-to-date for general purposes, but to also communicate COVID-19 operational information to clients. Are you working remotely? On reduced hours? A banner is an easy technique to get this information across, but going the extra step to create a dedicated page explaining your new procedures and policies to clients will give them peace of mind.

This information should be shared across social, as well, not just limited to your website. 

Other low-hanging fruit for your website and social platforms includes:

  • Making sure your contact information is all correct
    • Do you have a contact form on your site? Make sure it works. 
  • Are links in good working order?
  • Look for any typos or errors
  • Are your practice areas correctly represented?
  • Are your professional bios accurate?

Beyond these items, if you check one thing, it should be your Google My Business (GMB) account. GMB drives a huge amount of traffic. Not to your site, but to actual phone calls. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Produce content 

Producing new content is the number one way to stay in front of people. And I’m not just talking about your website rankings! 

When you create really good, really valuable content, it establishes personal trust and online authority. It builds your website’s SEO. It gives them a reason to go to – and come back to – your website in the first place. And it’s valuable social media fodder. 

What do you create? That is entirely up to you. But, as mentioned previously, doing some market research will help you make some of these decisions.

When you’re used to making connections in person, shifting your relationship-building to remote and digital methods can feel a bit like riding a bike. Wobbly and awkward – but after a bit of practice, it’s actually a lot of fun. And you’d be surprised at how far you can go fast!

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