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Entertainment and hospitality have been business staples forever. It affords one the opportunity to see what a prospect will talk about when there's plenty of time, no agenda, when she can talk about anything she wishes to. Entertaining was far more critical when business was largely local and depended on face-to-face relationship-building, and when prospects had time to play golf, take leisurely lunches, or go out at night.

Three factors now mitigate against this time-honored practice:

  • Head-count reduction
  • Anti-corruption policies
  • Internet-era communications

For years, corporations have been paring their workforce, with the result that the smaller remaining workforce must now do the job of a much larger previous one. This includes all levels of management. Your prospects and clients work long hours, and simply don't have the time to hang out with you as they may have in decades past.

As a result of FCPA regulations and increased government scrutiny of improper inducements, most corporations have established strict policies regarding such considerations, and may prohibit "suppliers" from paying for dinner, golf or an evening out, deeming it a gift whose value exceeds their policy limits.

Finally, modern communication has removed geographic limits from all knowledge workers. Internet communication is inherently global. Business need no longer be restricted to one's local area. Buyers decide whether or not they care about where you're located. Now that work-product and collaboration are borderless, clients are free to choose advisors without regard to geography.

Business entertaining has become a nice-to-do. Granted, longtime clients may reasonably expect you to show up once in a while on your nickel to press the flesh and break bread; prospects don't. So, while it's a big plus if you can spend some quality social time with prospects or clients, it's absolutely not a requirement.

What's far more important is you being seen as relevant to their business, which you demonstrate by contributing to relevant conversations in relevant, credible channels. Some of those with whom you've established relevance will give you a chance to be useful. If your usefulness produces meaningful business impact, you'll be seen as valuable. If you sustain your relevance, usefulness and value over a long period of time, you might become indispensable.

Mike O'Horo

Lawyers don't need business development training. They need help preparing for imminent real-world marketing or sales activity. Most biz dev training offered to lawyers is what's known as "just in case," i.e., "take time now to learn all this stuff because you'll need it at some point." 

That can't work. Lawyers are in the "just in time" business, attending to the most pressing matters, deferring everything else until it's imminent. RainmakerVT offers you the option to rent only the specific training you need to prepare for what you've got to do in the next week or so.  

The cost of unlimited access to an online course for five days? Less than you probably spend at Starbucks each month.