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!

Finishing Well

Contributed by Dan Sheedy.

25 years ago I ran my first Marine Corps Marathon and last week I ran my final with the Marine Corps 50k. The conditions were challenging (rain/downpours/wind and then temperatures shot into high 70s), and I am certain some were wondering what they had gotten themselves into.  For me,  it was a privilege to run again in celebration of the Marine Corps (I am a Marine vet – a Captain), veterans, families of those who gave their lives in service to our country and people from around the world in what is known as “the people’s marathon” and 50k.

This day for me, however, was different for another reason and one I want to share.  In every race I have run over the last 25 years, I have always challenged and pushed myself for a best time, a best placement in my age group or even a best overall finish!  Competition is a value of mine and while I have had many great successes, the road is also sprinkled with some pretty epic failures and races in which I was unable to finish.

This race was different.  I didn’t even realize it until the start of the race when I wasn’t pushing myself to the front of the starting corral for position when the cannon went off.   For the first time, I didn’t try to race; instead, I took in the scene, the spectacle.  I looked at monuments, talked to Marines, families of the fallen, fellow runners and spectators.  I simply enjoyed the event and savored the day.   This was a big shift for me, taking off the competitor hat striving for a finish – instead, engaging in the present.

How often do we take off our striving hat, our competitor role and simply engage in the present?  Doing so doesn’t mean we are weak, or without goals.  Remember, I still had to run the 31 miles and finish!  What taking off the hat gave me was hours of time to be grateful for all the previous races and runs and a moment to pause and acknowledge my accomplishments without a focus on “what’s next.”  It gave me an opportunity to smile at the many peaks and valleys (in running and in my career) I have faced along the way, and like leaders in any profession, to smile at the resiliency I developed to navigate them.

Think of what taking off that striving hat and engaging in the present can do for you.  It may give you time to reflect and decide if your direction is really pointing to the destination you want.  It may help you more effectively navigate today’s 24/7 work life integration challenges.  It may help you simply pause, acknowledge your accomplishments and be grateful.  I challenge you to try it.  It helped me acknowledge a final completed ultra-run.  At the finish of a long day, I smiled when a recently commissioned 2nd Lieutenant put a finisher medal around my neck, saluted me and said Semper Fi, mission accomplished!

Novateur Welcomes EJ Stern

We are pleased to announce that EJ Stern has joined Novateur Partners as a Senior Business Development Coach.

EJ offers business development training, strategic consulting, and individual coaching to law firms, lawyers and other professional service firms. Her clients range from associates who are at the beginning of the business development process and want to learn the tools needed to create a thriving practice to established partners who are seeking to increase their books of business and broaden their client base. EJ’s results-oriented approach helps her clients cultivate business development best practices and provides the accountability necessary for marketing success. EJ also has experience training and coaching associates and counsel on how to effectively manage their time to optimize billable opportunities.

You can read more about EJ’s background and experience by clicking here, and she can be reached at ejstern@novateurpartners.com and 202-907-8362.

Sheedy earns Cornell Employment Law Certificate

Dan Sheedy recently earned a Certificate in Employment Law from Cornell University. This certificate is designed to establish a structured framework for analysis of workplace legal issues and increase understanding of employment laws and regulations in order to deal effectively with labor-related legal issues in the workplace. The courses addressed  key employment law requirements in the United States (equal employment opportunity, leave, compensation, safety, employee relations, discrimination…) while providing guidance on the implementation of employment policies and practices in countries with different legal systems.  The courses concluded with a study of best practices in developing HR policies and practices in multinational settings.  Dan is utilizing the learning from this course to provide more effective and deeper coaching for leaders in complex organizations that increasingly are seeking advisory services on human capital issues.

Sheedy Earns SPHR Certification

Senior Executive Coach, Dan Sheedy, has earned the SPHR (Senior Professional Human Resources) certification awarded by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HCRI).  This designation certifies specific knowledge and expertise at the most senior level of the human resources field.  Dan determined this was necessary as part of his growing consulting practice as a thought and change leader for small to mid-sized businesses as they navigate the complexity of human capital, compensation and regulatory issues. Additionally, he is supplementing this designation with an Employment Law Certificate from Cornell University.

Novateur one of Daily Report’s Best of 2019

Novateur Partners was voted as one of the best LAWYER/LAW FIRM BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COACHING companies in the Daily Report’s Best of 2019.   The Daily Report annually ranks Georgia’s best businesses within their particular category as a result of votes by their subscribers.  Thank you to everyone who voted!

Click here to view the Daily Report’s Best of 2019. Novateur can be found on page 18.

The Art of Self-Promotion featured on Livestrong.com

The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career  by Debby Stone was featured on Livestrong.com.  In an article titled, “Self-Help Books for Beginners” Stone’s book appears on a list of 10 expert-recommended books that can improve your self-esteem, relationships and career.  The Art of Self-Promotion is praised for showing its readers how to promote themselves to their peers, bosses and clients in an authentic way that does not feel “cringey” or cheesy. Emily Kapit, owner, lead resume writer and head career strategist at ReFresh Your Step calls it “the go-to book on learning how to approach self-promotion in a range of different settings.”

The Art of Self-Promotion

Click HERE to read the entire article and see the full list of recommended books.

Click HERE to purchase your copy of The Art of Self-Promotion: Tell Your Story, Transform Your Career.

Building Leadership Resiliency

Submitted by Debby Stone.

Recently I delivered a keynote to a group of leaders who are in the midst of tremendous organizational change.  At times like these, people are tested.  They are asked to reach challenging goals, to do more with less and to persevere in the face of cultural upheaval.  In order to prevail during challenging times and to thrive throughout a career, these leaders need to be resilient.

Resiliency is a simple concept.  It is the ability to bounce back after a set-back or recover quickly following a difficulty.  Rubber bands are quite resilient and some people are as well.  Resiliency is a personal trait that many of us have developed through life’s challenges and set-backs.  It is also a leadership trait that is viewed as essential to being promoted.

The good news, as I explained to the assembled leaders in this particular organization, is that our capacity for resilience can be increased.  In other words, we can train our brains to be more resilient.

This training involves building stores of energy — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy stores — that can help us bounce back better and faster.  If those energy storehouses are full, we are more resilient.  If they are empty or depleted, we are not resilient at all.

Although as humans we don’t have gauges to let us know when our energy level in one of these areas is low, we typically have some indications.  Often though we ignore those early warning signs and continue to push ourselves forward, taking on more and more, until we reach burnout.

The better strategy is to look at times of corporate change, and indeed life in general, as a series of sprints rather than a marathon race.  With the sprint approach, we have a chance to build in habits or routines that allow us to refill our energy tanks as we go, rather than needing to finish the full 26.2 miles before we get a break.

Below are some ideas for refilling your energy tanks in each of the four areas.  These ideas come from my clients and audiences, and while they are not rocket science, they are creative ideas for building resiliency.

Physical Energy: 

  • Go for a short walk at lunchtime.
  • Eat fruit salad instead of French fries.
  • Carry a refillable bottle of water wherever you go.

Emotional Energy:

  • Call a friend at lunch.
  • Take a ten-minute quiet time break when you get home from work.
  • Redsicover a hobby you used to enjoy like reading, gardening, knitting or carpentry.

Mental Energy:

  • Take a quick break every 90-minutes and walk down the hall.
  • Don’t work on one thing for too long; switch projects every couple of hours.
  • Practice mindfulness – try to align what you are doing with what you are thinking about.

Spiritual Energy:

  • Meditate using an app like Headspace or 10% Happier.
  • Find a book of inspirational readings or quotes and read one each morning.
  • Post your values near your desk and remember what’s most important to you.

ICF Members Given Access to Stone’s Program

Debby Stone’s highly rated program from International Coach Federation’s Converge 2017 conference entitled “Build Your Brand by Telling Your Story” will be distributed to all ICF members who renew their memberships early.  With their exclusive access to this program, coaches will walk away with practical strategies for implementing the art of self-promotion in the context of their unique coaching businesses.  As a PCC credentialed coach, a past Georgia chapter president and long-time member, Debby Stone is pleased to help support excellence in coaching.