Dallas-based career and client development coach Cordell Parvin discusses basics of business development

By Correy Stephenson

Dolan Media Newswires

BOSTON, MA--For lawyers looking to jump start their client development skills, Dallas-based career and client development coach Cordell Parvin recently conducted a webinar entitled ''Business Development 101 for 2011 and Beyond,'' hosted by LexBlog.

Parvin, who practiced construction law for 36 years before becoming a coach, discussed the basics of client development and provided attorneys with a road map for getting started.

In the old days, lawyers were told ''do good work and get a Martindale AV rating,'' said Parvin. But for lawyers today, ''it's no longer what you know, but who knows what you know.

''You have to stand out from the crowd and search for ways to be more valuable to your clients,'' he emphasized.

Landing a client is a progression that begins with being visible and creating a profile, then establishing credibility, and ultimately building trust and rapport with a person who wants to work with you, Parvin explained.

He advised lawyers to determine how much time they want to spend in 2011 on non-billable client development, and then divide that time into separate categories, such as time for relationship building and taking clients out to lunch.

''Break down goals in 90 day [increments],'' he said. ''Smaller parts mean you are more likely to actually do it.'' Parvin said he breaks down items by week and then again by day, sitting down with his calendar on a Sunday and scheduling his development items for the week like any other calendar entry.

To increase visibility and create a profile, ''find out where potential clients hang out,'' whether on Twitter or at trade shows or local community organizations, he said.

Parvin also suggested finding a partner to work with on development, similar to a running or workout partner.

''It provides accountability and gives you someone to answer to,'' he explained.

The next step is building credibility. Good approaches include writing, speaking and maintaining an online presence.

''Use the stickiness factor'' when deciding on topics, Parvin said. ''Focus on problems and opportunities for your clients, and consider whether or not your topic will matter to them and stick with them.''

Finally, remember that clients hire lawyers, not law firms, he said, and make subjective judgments about whether they want to work with a specific person they trust.

Build rapport and relationships with potential clients, and ''ask questions,'' Parvin urged, something too many lawyers forget to do.

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Published: Mon, May 2, 2011