Archives for March 2020

4 Steps for Business Development Success
During Coronavirus

Contributed by EJ Stern

How can you cultivate and maintain business development success during Coronavirus? I’ve heard from many lawyers lamenting that Coronavirus has brought their business development efforts to a screeching halt. After all, networking and staying top of mind with your clients, prospects and referral sources is absolutely critical to cultivating new business. The nature of business will forever be changed by this pandemic and so too our pursuit of business development. In these challenging times, there are plenty of ways to stay connected with your network.

Avoid Isolation

The business environment has shifted dramatically with a largely remote work force. If you’re feeling isolated because of social distancing, I can assure you that you’re not alone! We are all experiencing the great unknown together. There’s virtually no industry or business untouched by COVID-19. Now is the time to check in with your key clients, targets, referrals and colleagues. It’s also a great excuse to reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken with in a while. There are many great tools to help us stay connected today. Consider a simple phone call, virtual coffee, or a virtual happy hour to bring people together to simply say hi, celebrate a success, or discuss a pressing deal.

Up your Social Media Game

Social media platforms reward engagement. The more you share, the greater visibility you’ll receive. LinkedIn is an excellent platform to broadcast your message, position yourself as a thought leader, and highlight your expertise. If you’ve seen a particularly poignant article, share it. If your company is doing something innovative to address the pandemic, re-share the press release. Be sure to include the importance or impact the article has on your industry, your clients, or your business. Now is a great time to get active on alumni, bar, industry or Inn of Court forums, as well.  Much like a news article, make sure your subject line is on point and draws people into your topic.

Go Virtual

The spring and fall are critical conference and seminar seasons. No doubt you’ve poured countless hours into preparing content, only to find out your big conference or workshop has been canceled. Now is a great time to turn to virtual options. Shift your presentation to a virtual platform like Webex. Lead a small roundtable discussion for clients in the same industry using Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Start a podcast to discuss how Coronavirus is impacting your clients’ business or industry and then broadcast it via LinkedIn. Blog on the latest industry trends and then send it to your firm’s electronic mailing list. There are remarkable free and low-cost tools at your fingertips that you can easily leverage so that you don’t miss out on an opportunity.

Reuse, Recycle, Repeat

Time is particularly precious as you work remotely, likely overseeing your teenager’s virtual classes, chasing after a toddler, or trying to quiet Rover’s bark. Now that you’ve invested your limited time into preparing a presentation or article, maximize your investment. Consider turning it into an advisory for your firm’s newsletter, offering it as a virtual in-house lunch and learn, pitching it to an industry publication, sharing it on LinkedIn, and linking it to your web bio. Give it as much mileage as possible!

And remember, now more than ever, business development is critical to the future success of your practice. We simply don’t know what the future will look like, so take steps today to fill the pipeline for tomorrow.

About the Author

EJ Stern helps her clients cultivate business development best practices and provides the accountability necessary for marketing success. EJ has more than 15 years of experience advising on business development and marketing solutions for professional service organizations, particularly in the legal industry. She has extensive experience coaching lawyers on how to effectively expand their books of business. Her results-oriented approach focuses on identifying and leveraging a professional’s strengths, motivations and work style to grow his/her existing client base and cultivate new leads. If you have questions or would like more information, contact EJ at ejstern@novateurpartners.com.

Tips to Effectively Work from Home

Contributed by Lori Ray.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the globe, more and more leaders and employees are being encouraged to work from home. How do you transition from an office environment to a productive at-home work station? Whether you are new to this situation, or a more experienced remote worker, below are 7 tips to effectively work from home.

1. Work Environment

Currently, the internet is full of photos from around the world showing creative ways people have set up stations to work from home. I have seen ironing boards, laundry baskets, chairs, and shipping boxes being used as makeshift desks. Whether you have the ability to set up a dedicated work space or you are using a corner of your kitchen table as a desk, here are a few ways to set up an effective work environment.

  • Use a supportive, comfortable chair that promotes good posture. Better yet, stand for part of the working day. Employees that use a standing desk have reported less back pain, improved circulation, and better productivity. While working from the comfort of your bed might sound tantalizing at first, you may quickly find that it is difficult to find a position in bed that allows you to comfortably work all day.
  • Set your monitor about an arm’s length from your body, and just slightly under eye level. If you work with paper documents, use (or create) a document holder that will hold your copy close to your monitor, and at or near the same level.
  • Minimize distractions. While some employees find that music or other noise actually helps them be more productive, a blaring TV, kids playing or fighting, and dogs barking throughout the day can add up to being major distractions. If you can’t get to a separate room, and you find yourself constantly being pulled out of your mental focus and concentration, consider wearing headphones while you work. Communicate to the rest of your family or roommates that when you are at your work station, it is important not to interrupt you.

2. Proper Lighting

While it’s very enjoyable to sit in a nice, sunny room, too much light can cause eye strain. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Bright lighting and too much glare can strain your eyes and make it difficult to see objects on your monitor. The worst problems are generally from sources above or behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight.” What can you do to ensure you have proper lighting?

  • If possible, set up your computer monitor so that sources of sunlight are coming from the side, not in front of or behind you.
  • Partially close drapes or blinds to reduce glare from sunlight, while still enjoying some natural light.
  • Dim overhead lights to a comfortable setting.
  • Don’t go to the extreme of reducing lighting so much that the brightness from your monitor is shining like a beacon in the room. The brightness setting of your monitor should closely match the ambient lighting in your environment.

3. Maintain Routine

While your schedule may be much more flexible than it was when you reported to an office, it is important to maintain some structure. Our human bodies and circadian rhythms thrive on routine. So going to bed and waking at the same time each day, showering and dressing (even if it is casually) every day, eating meals around the same time, and turning off your screens before bed will go a long way to help you thrive as you work from home.

It is also helpful to schedule chunks of time that you will do certain things. For example, you could have a routine where you check emails first thing in the morning, tackle a big project before lunch, handle phone and video calls in the afternoon, and then plan tomorrow’s to do list before signing off for the day.

4. Have a Plan

When you work from home, you may find yourself being pulled in multiple directions. It is hard to concentrate on work when you are constantly thinking of the pile of laundry you need to fold, what’s for dinner, and how badly your walls need touchup paint. Having a dedicated list of work tasks will help you focus during work hours. Popular apps like Microsoft ToDo or iOS Reminders allow you to set up separate lists. With the ability to set reminders and recurring tasks, these tools can do wonders to keep you on track. And, of course, a simple checklist using pen and paper is a tried and true method that always works.

5. Stay Connected

Human and social interactions remain vital to wellbeing. In the absence of face-to-face meetings, take advantage of current technology that allows us to interact virtually. Look into programs such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and FaceTime, as video conferencing will become the new normal for now.

6. Take Breaks

Rather than using your breaks to scroll social media, read endless news articles about Coronavirus, or watch YouTube clips, get away from your desk. To prevent body and eye fatigue, try to stand up every hour. Just a quick walk around the room, a gentle stretch, and taking your eyes away from your monitor for only a few minutes each hour can make a world of difference in the long run. Set a timer or use a smartwatch to remind you when it is time to stand.

Go outside. Step out your front or back door at least once a day to get fresh air and sunshine. Daily sun is beneficial for our physical and mental health. Depending on the timing and duration of your sun exposure, consider if you need to protect your skin with sunscreen.

Take a dedicated lunch break. Regardless of whether you are in an office or work from home, it is important to eat away from your desk. Studies show that taking a lunch break allows your mind to recuperate, making you more productive after lunch. Without giving your brain this chance to recharge, you may find yourself suffering from the dreaded afternoon slump.

7. Set Boundaries

At the end of the day, mentally “clock out” from work. Just because your laptop is sitting on your kitchen table doesn’t mean you should respond to emails during dinner. Close your laptop, silence your phone, and enjoy your evening at home as you would if you had physically left the office.

Stay well, stay positive, and enjoy your time as you work from home!

How do I lead when things are so uncertain?

Contributed by Debby Stone.

Right now, we are in an unprecedented time of uncertainty. The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown our economy and our collective health into disarray. As a leader, you are probably being asked how all of this will affect people’s jobs, their livelihoods and the company as a whole.

These are tough questions without easy or clear answers. Leaders I work with are having to make challenging decisions nearly hourly about work from home protocols, travel restrictions, outside visitors to the company’s offices and benefits for those affected by the virus. Corporate communication leaders are faced with communicating these decisions in a way that shows both clarity and decisiveness in the face of rapidly changing circumstances.

As a leader, what can you do? First and foremost, remember you can only do your best under the circumstances you are in. It is important to remember that every decision and action we take right now is about doing the best we can with the information we have in that particular moment. There may be more information coming and that information may change your decision but for now, you simply need to decide based on what you know.

Be Flexible

Be willing to change courses as needed. This is not a time to make a plan and rigidly follow it. If there was ever a time for agility and flexibility, this is it. Be clear for now and equally clear that whatever decision you make will be temporal. That does not weaken your leadership, rather it strengthens it by showing your willingness to shift and change as new information becomes available and circumstances change.

Be Human

Remember that every decision you make, every conversation you have and every person you discuss this issue with is exactly that – a human being – with a family, with health challenges and other interests beyond the workplace. They, like you, are weighing a whole host of factors as they consider how they will respond and react to the pandemic. Getting sick affects the economic health and productivity of companies, and the ripple effect in people’s lives and personal orbits is far greater.

Along the same lines, it is okay to show your concern, fear and uncertainty, provided that you do so in a conscious way. I am not suggesting that leaders should break down or scream and cry in front of those they lead. However, it is okay to show emotion, to express your own personal concerns and to let everyone around you know that you are a leader and also a person.

Practice Self-Management

Self-management is always a critically important leadership success principle and it is no less important now. Those who lead with emotional intelligence as they confront the various effects of this global crisis will find themselves in stronger positions than those who forget about this important aspect of this issue.

In short, leaders frequently face some level of uncertainty, great or small. Since we are currently facing one of the most uncertain times in our collective history, the qualities that you have led with during other times of uncertainty are the same ones to draw on today. Do you best with the information you currently have, be flexible and willing to shift courses, leverage your EQ and, most importantly, remember that we’re all human.

To read more of Debby Stone’s thoughts on leadership, please visit DebbyStone.com