Recently, I was talking to a lawyer about the ideal mix of business with pleasure, in the context of successful business development. This attorney observed that a lawyer in his firm with lots of clients seemed to devote most of his life to his practice. All of this successful lawyer’s social and community activities revolved around clients or potential clients. His personal life was hardly separate from his work life.
This lawyer I was speaking with wondered if he should take the same approach. Should he be marketing 24/7? I hate to sound like a lawyer, but the answer is both yes and no. First, I’ll provide the “yes” answer. Then, I’ll provide the “no” answer.
Think of the most successful lawyers you know at your law firm, or in your practice area or community. The most successful lawyers tend to live and breathe work. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are workaholics: some are and some aren’t. What they all share in common is that all of their outside activities seem to be work-related, even though the primary purpose of the activity may not be. They regularly mix business with pleasure.
One of the more familiar examples of mixing business with pleasure is to purposefully take a vacation with the spouse and kids to a location where a client lives. Some take it a bit further. The spouse plans where to go, but the lawyer is able to find someone at this location with whom to schedule at least one breakfast or lunch with a work-related purpose. This is a win/win. Good for business development, as well as a possible tax deduction for your vacation.
A less-familiar example of mixing business with pleasure is the lawyer who attends the wedding of a relative and makes one or two contacts at the reception that could prove to be beneficial months or years down the road. Mind you, these lawyers don’t attend the wedding thinking, “I’m taking a dozen business cards tonight and will work the room until they are gone.” Rather, they routinely introduce themselves to strangers and show genuine interest in the people they meet. Inevitably, some of the conversations become work-related and, well, you know the rest.
Whenever I share the above examples of mixing business with pleasure with other attorneys, the usual reaction is, “Huh? You mean I can’t turn it off on vacations?” or “Give me a break. Are you saying I should be marketing at weddings and bar mitzvahs?” I usually respond that I don’t think you need to market 24/7 in order to be successful. It’s okay to have some boundaries as long as you devote a reasonable amount of time overall to business development activities.
But then I ask, “How successful do you want to be?” If you have the type of personality that doesn’t mind mixing pleasure with business (and a family that can tolerate this tendency), why not? Many of these efforts are long shots. But, if you play enough races, long shots do come in. Meeting people at a specific wedding will rarely lead to business, but a pattern of meeting people at all of the events you attend will eventually pay off.
If you develop a personal marketing plan and execute it well, you’ll do fine at business development. Go ahead and turn off your marketing personality whenever you want. Mixing business with pleasure is not required. But it can work. Consistently mixing business with pleasure can lead to great results. In either case, you’ll still be a success.
Originally published on Lawyerist.com