It suddenly dawned on me — I was in the office for the day. It was a Friday at 11 AM or so, and you don’t want to be in the office on a Friday. I immediately went through my mental list of clients, projects, and prospects to find a productive place to be — outside the office. Fridays could easily set the tone for the next week or next few months.
Consultants submitted an estimate for their billable time for the upcoming week every Friday at noon. The partners managing the practice would meet at 2 PM on Fridays to make sure the consultants were busy, among other business. Consultants spend most of their time at client sites, so being seen in the office gave the appearance of looking less busy than you might be.
Even though I had a large backlog of client billable work — I still wanted to avoid this perception at all costs. I called a local client where I had 4 active projects. I asked if he might have time for a visit to catch up and review project status. He did, so we set up a meeting for 2 PM.
I arrived at the appointed time, and he was his punctual self with all the project details in front of him. We walked through the projects and moved on to a few nonwork-related things — he had a large family with 8 kids, and he brought me up to speed.
“Can I ask you something” he said as we were getting ready to wrap up. “I wanted to ask your opinion about this other project I have. I am having trouble convincing my leadership to back one of my initiatives. I am trying to figure out how to get their attention and get them on board.”
I made a few suggestions on approaches and messaging. He asked if I could provide him with some research to back things up and show his initiative would not only resolve a problem — but improve the organization’s reputation and profile.
He asked for a proposal. There was no competition.
I walked back to my office thinking about how I got some serious business in a non-pitch environment. My intent was to do a project review (ok — and be out of the office). But I learned how important dialogue is, and how it leads to some of the best new business.
Worrying about being seen or not seen in the office has different dimensions today. But client dialogue has become exponentially more important. The informal insights gained through conversation provide the grounding for you to be more trusted than others — and get the plum new business.
No matter how busy you are, make time to connect with your top clients by zoom, phone, or in person. Only 21% of clients report having a meaningful voice-to-voice dialogue with their law firm relationship partner. The field is wide open.
Best in the market ahead.
The Mad Clientist