Young Practitioners Discuss Business Development

Published: July 1, 2020

Ana Sanz Cerralbo Elzaburu, S.L.P. Madrid, Spain Young Practitioners Committee

What are the challenges of business development in a digital work environment? The Programming Subcommittee of INTA’s Young Practitioners Committee discussed this question at its recent event on May 27—the second in a series of events focusing on aspects of practice in the new model of digital work resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young Practitioners Committee

From left to right: David Diamond (Richard Law Group, USA), Olaf Gillert (Taylor Wessing, Germany) and Nick Hawkins (Womble Bond Dickinson, USA)

The discussion featured presentations by two members of the Programming Subcommittee, Olaf Gillert (Taylor Wessing, Germany) and Nick Hawkins (Womble Bond Dickinson, USA), and was moderated by David Diamond (Richard Law Group, USA), Co-chair of the Programming Subcommittee.

According to a survey, the attendees filled out prior to the event, 90 percent of them were working from home, which the moderator said represents “a dramatic shift from the status quo before this pandemic began.” This new situation clearly affects business development, something that has traditionally been done in person.

Mr. Gillert offered his perspective as an outside counsel and gave guidelines on how to develop the business in a virtual environment. To get the most out of this opportunity, he said, you need to get your target right (new or existing clients); determine what tools you have and whether you can partner with other firms or colleagues to achieve greater reach; and, most importantly, be quick and very specific in your messages.

He also highlighted the importance of being proactive at this time and anticipating client needs, encouraging attendees to call their clients. As some of the attendees stated later in the discussion, the current situation has meant that people have more time and more desire to talk and this means that it is easier to engage in more personal conversations that can lead to gaining the client’s trust, a central axis of business development.

Mr. Hawkins offered advice for in-house counsels. He stressed the importance of being informed of any event that might affect the client and to be resolute. Anticipating the needs of the client was again deemed crucial.

To young practitioners, the speaker suggested participating in panel discussions, webinars, or other venues. “It is all about branding yourself,” he said, and letting the client know you are there and can be counted on.

Other suggestions give the current situation include taking advantage of any free time to write articles for specialized journals, participate in working groups, organize specific webinars for existing clients, or develop relationships with other colleagues or contacts through social media or by organizing informal virtual social events.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items in this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

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