Last week, we introduced you to the idea that there are four steps on the path to "indispensable advisor." The first step -- relevance -- frames business development in business/industry terms and gets you into the game long before anyone's legal skills are part of any conversation.
Now let's talk about usefulness. It simply means making a practical difference, and it's an asset that further increases your significance to business people, and sets you apart even more from mere lawyer-technicians.
Usefulness doesn't have to involve giving legal advice or performing a legal service. You're also being useful when you...
- Broaden and enrich your client's network. Can you introduce them to new trading partners, suppliers, customers, bankers, investors and the like?
- Demonstrate a passion for your client's industries. Do you have an energetic and nuanced understanding of their industry and business that shows that you have the necessary context to be trusted with their business challenges?
- Do you have a nose for your client's Door-Opener? That's the business problem or need that drives demand for a specific legal service.
Usefulness is applied relevance. It's predicated on having an awareness of the client's Door-Opener, and how well theirs matches up with your own. Otherwise, your default for proving usefulness is waiting for a legal matter to appear. When your client or prospect reaches that point, they'll have plenty of lawyers from which to choose. Do you really want to be just one more of many, competing on credentials and price?
A lawyer who shows relevance and usefulness begins to have a lot less competition from other lawyers for the business out there. At the same time, the more relevant and useful you are to a business conversation, the bigger your world of potential clients becomes.
Next week: Valuable.