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All of us are bombarded by newsletters, e-mails, Webinars, seminars and conferences focusing on "Business Development Improvement." For the most part, this information is reasonably sound. 

Converting new approaches into real-world business conditions, however, is the tough part. What seemed to make so much sense and was so logical at the time often lacks the necessary linkage to reality. 

When you can't see a way of doing it in your marketplace, you won't. Without a practical, tested application, you're left with just an abstraction. 

So, the next time you learn a "catchy" new way to approach potential clients, apply it mentally. Ask yourself. . . 

  • How does it play out for me specifically? 
  • How would I use it in my business development settings? 

Practice out loud, either with someone who will tolerate it or by yourself in front of a mirror. Play both roles, the a) bright business development superstar lawyer and b) prospective client, bombarded by pitches from the "best people" from other firms. 

Once you've practiced and confirmed that a new approach works for you conceptually, try it out (first on your colleagues, of course). And, ask them to critique you.

Practice it in your mind, visualizing how it plays out. "Performance improvement visualization," as it's called, is almost as effective as real-world practice, as shown below:

Australian Psychologist Alan Richardson conducted an experiment in which he took a group of basketball players, divided them in 3 groups and tested each player’s ability to make free throws.

  • The first group would practice 20 minutes every day.
  • The second would only visualize themselves making free throws, but no real practice was allowed.
  • The third one would not practice or visualize.

The results were eye-opening:

  • The first group improved by 24%.

  • The second group improved by 23% without touching a basketball.

  • As expected, the third group did not improve. 

Next, use the strategy with a real-life prospective client. 

Remember that the worst you'll ever be is the first time you try it. Who knows, if it appealed to you in theory, and you practiced the idea in your imagination, it just might work in the real world. 

Practice, practice, practice works for you as a lawyer. Why not let it work for you as a business developer? 

Mike O'Horo

Besides visualization, there's another way to practice. RainmakerVT's online training provides you a virtual world where you can practice privately, whenever you wish, as often as you wish, from any computer or tablet. Review the course list and try one that will help you succeed at something that's already on your calendar during the next week or so, e.g., a networking event, sales call, or article deadline.