How to Build a Book of Business

What are the best practices for business development? Business Development: How to Build a Book fo Business | CorporetteHow do you build a book of business?  Reader S, a new partner, wonders:

I am starting at a new firm as a partner where there is a great deal of emphasis on client development. Its a long story but I do not have much experience developing a book of business. I know you have done posts on networking but I don’t recall seeing anything related specifically to client development. Any tips on what to do differently in terms of networking when you are specifically seeking business and not just changing jobs? How do you “pitch” to a potential client? How do you even get your foot in the door to deliver a “pitch”? Thanks!

Congratulations, S!  I have almost no familiarity with this myself (at least in the non-blogger capacity), so I thought I’d poke around the web.  I’d guess your BEST bet would be finding a mentor or two among the partners at your own firm.  Keep in mind that what you’re looking for here isn’t necessarily someone whose practice is identical to yours (or what you want it to be) — in fact, they may see you as competition.  Instead, look for someone whose personality and style is similar to yours.  What works for an extrovert will not be the same for an introvert!  I’m curious to hear what readers say, but here are some great tips from the web: [Read more...]

Plus-One Style: Dinner at Your Husband’s Boss’s House

Plus-One Style: What to Wear to Dinner at Your Husband's Boss's House | CorporetteWhat should you wear to your husband’s boss’s dinner party?  How does plus-one style (in appearance as well as approach) differ?   Reader L wonders…

My husband and I are both lawyers in our late (or, more accurately lates-est) twenties. He recently accepted an associate position at a new firm, and one of the shareholders invited us to a small dinner at his home along with several other associates and their significant others. The dinner is not until the end of March but I am already in a panic about what to wear. Any suggestions?

We have talked about what to wear to your boss’s holiday party, but the suggestions there (post and comments) are all very seasonal, so I thought we’d revisit.  The important part here, I think, is that you’re the plus one — it isn’t your boss; it’s your husband’s boss.  In my mind this is a very different approach than when you’re going to your own work-related social event.  Things that might be of concern were it YOUR boss: being too feminine, being interesting in that “I have a life outside the office” way,  having the entire social event run in a way that it bolsters your boss’s and colleagues’ good opinions of you as a work colleague and doesn’t undermine those opinions at all… But when you’re the plus one, none of that matters.  Obviously, you’re intelligent and a lawyer yourself — don’t pretend to be something you’re not, and don’t do/say anything that will lay the groundwork for a bad impression if you later meet another dinner attendee in a work-related capacity.  But: if you leave that evening and their impression of you is, “she’s pretty and makes a nice wife for Mr.  L,” that’s A-OK.  You wouldn’t want that if it were YOUR boss, but since it’s HIS boss it doesn’t matter.  (Incidentally, this has nothing to do with husband/wife dynamics — in general I think it’s the mark of a bad plus-one if they outshine you at your work events.  Part of having/being a good partner is knowing when to throw each other the ball and let the other person run with it, rather than trying to make all the goals yourself.  I would be peeved if my husband and I went to an event for MY work and he actively hogged the spotlight, or even if he led/perpetuated a conversation that he knew I couldn’t take part in.)

THAT SAID — what should you wear, whether it’s to your own event or your husband’s event?  My advice is kind of the same: if it’s on a weeknight, wear something you could have worn to work.   [Read more...]

Career Plans: If, Why, How

Career Plans: If, Why, How | CorporetteShould you have a career plan at all? Why? How should you go about creating a career plan? We’ve talked about how to change careers, and even tried to collect people’s 5-year career goals, but we haven’t really talked about HOW to plan your career, and I’m curious to hear what readers say.

For my $.02: I’ve read a lot AGAINST career plans over the years (see, e.g., HBR and Forbes) — everyone suggests you favor serendipity, having an open mind, letting opportunities present themselves to you. But I was thinking the other day about “Lean In,” and how difficult it can really be to “lean in” when you’re in tumultuous life years, such as the pregnancy years — hoping/planning on getting pregnant, dealing with pregnancy exhaustion, figuring out life with a newborn, and then possibly doing it all again if you want multiple kids… and I realized how helpful a career plan might be, just to drive yourself forward over those few years (at least). [Read more...]

Can You Interview in 4″ Heels?

Can You Interview in 4" Heels? | CorporetteAre 4″ heels too high for job interviews?  Is a red sole inappropriate for interviewing and networking?  Reader A wonders…

Hi I was wondering if I could get some advice on shoes. I will be starting law school in the fall and I’m wondering what heels would be appropriate. I currently own a black leather pair of Louboutins that are 4 inches. Do you feel it’s appropriate to wear them with the red bottom showing? Also is 4 inches considered too high? Thank you!

We’ve talked about Louboutins at work here, as well as which heels are too high, but we haven’t talked about either issue in a while. (Pictured: Christian Louboutin Simple 100 Leather Pumps, available in store only at Saks.)  Here are some general tips:

[Read more...]

The Care and Maintenance of Professional Contacts

How to Maintain Professional Contacts | CorporetteHow do you maintain professional contacts on a regular basis?  You don’t want to be the junior person who only reaches out when you need something, and you don’t want to be the person who constantly pesters your mentors and contacts with questions — but where is the middle ground?  Reader K wonders:

Curious what your advice is on maintaining professional contacts. I realized recently I only reach out to people when I need something, and this feels a little … awkward? Like, “Hi, we haven’t spoken for ages, I’m now two jobs removed from when we worked together, but can you help me out with this thing?”

Great question! We’ve talked about how to network when you’re junior and how to network in general, but not in a while. For my $.02:

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I Can’t Wear a Suit — But Want to Show Authority

I Can't Wear a Suit But Want to Show Authority -- How? | CorporetteWhat do you wear when you want to show authority without wearing a suit?  We’ve talked about what to wear when a suit doesn’t feel right, but Reader R is looking for authoritative clothes that aren’t intimidating and travel well…

I recently started a new job as in-house counsel. As part of my responsibilities, I will be traveling internationally to conduct audits and give training sessions. The job is great, but I’m not sure what to wear! My de facto would be to wear a suit, but my boss suggested that I should avoid wearing suits, since the appearance of a “suit” tends to make people nervous. Some relevant factors: (1) I’m often the only woman in the room; and (2) I’m also often the youngest person in the room.

Basically, I need pieces that say, “Position of authority, but non-scary” and travel well. Help!

Congrats on the new job, R!  One of my older friends was a lawyer for a TV network in the 80s, and I remember her telling me that she would leave her suit jacket in her office when she had to go talk to the comedy writers or producers — it was less intimidating, less “this is coming from The Man.” So you’re not alone in wanting to thinking about what your clothes say to people.  For my $.02: Put some thought into exactly what response you want from people.  For example: Do you want them to respect that your word is the final word, and they should do what you tell them? (Play up the authority.)  Do you want them to come to you with problems that might not be communicated to the home office otherwise?  (Play up the approachability, but keep some authority.) Do you seek to really understand their problems and make friends in the office? (Turn the authority way down.)  (As for the “looking younger” part of your question, you may want to look at our older post on the difference between acting young and looking young at the office.)

For my $.02, I would go with what you feel most comfortable in, and modify that (taking into account, obviously, the office culture for where you’re going). If you’re comfortable in: [Read more...]