Episode 183: The secrets to effective business development and getting more clients – with Deb Feder of Feder Development

You go to the networking events and meet all the right people, but how do you turn those conversations into clients? 

Deb Feder is a business growth coach and strategist focused on helping lawyers and leaders build outstanding careers.

She explains how to turn conversations into business opportunities, who to follow up on after attending a networking event and how much time you should spend on business development.

She also talks about how to approach networking events authentically, different non-traditional strategies to build your network, and she dispels the common misconceptions about business development.

Today’s guest

Deb Feder of Feder Development

Website: Deb Feder

LinkedIn: Deb Feder

YouTube: Deb Feder

Deb Feder, CEO of Feder Development, LLC, is a business growth coach and strategist focused on helping lawyers and leaders build outstanding careers.  Deb’s approach focuses on turning conversations and connections into opportunities while managing the demands of modern careers.

Deb focuses on helping lawyers and industry professionals bring in consistent clients through curious, confident conversations and changing the way we view productivity for professionals.  Using LinkedIn as a platform to validate and share ideas, Deb helps professionals across industries engage in meaningful content and connections.

For the last decade, she has committed herself to changing the way we think about business development and tackling high stakes work.  Deb is all about managing your work days, owning your career path, and bringing in business through her coaching, Focus30 sessions, and retreats.

Prior to founding Feder Development, Deb practised corporate law for 15 years and holds a history degree from the University of Michigan and her JD/MBA from the University of Iowa.  Deb completed her coach training and certification through New Ventures West and completed the training in The Daring Way, which is based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown.

She is a frequent speaker at conferences, podcasts, and corporate retreats on business development, productivity, networking, authenticity, and communication.  As a contributing author to the best-selling anthology #Networked, Deb shares her common-sense approach to building business relationships.

Her latest book, After Hello: How to Build a Book of Business, One Conversation at a Time, is a guide to building a thriving law practice based on a blend of mindset, strategy, and

straightforward solutions.  After Hello shows leaders and legal professionals how to fill their practice with clients that pick them as their trusted advisor because of their expertise and unique approach.  The perfect blend of mindset, strategy, and simple solutions, this step-by-step guide allows professionals to build the practice of their dreams now, rather than hoping the long-game strategy works out someday.  It demonstrates that building an intentional book of business happens one curious, confident conversation at a time, starting with that first hello.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [2:37] Explaining how to turn conversations to business opportunities.
  • [3:40] The three stages of business development.
  • [5:15] Why business development is so challenging for people in professional careers.
  • [8:00] How to convert new relationships to business opportunities.
  • [10:25] Who to spend time following up on after attending a networking event.
  • [12:02] Common misconceptions around business development.
  • [12:39] How introverts should network.
  • [14:57] The amount of time business development takes and the power of referrals.
  • [16:31] How to ask your clients for a referral.
  • [18:12] How to create an authentic personal brand.
  • [21:00] Going through your life chronology to create an engaging story.
  • [23:28] The different things you can learn from looking at your work timeline.
  • [24:58] The stories everyone has about their first jobs.
  • [26:09] Steps you can take to discover your authentic business self.
  • [31:38] How to approach a networking event in an authentic way.
  • [34:22] Non-traditional strategies to build your network.
  • [36:57] How to know which networking techniques are being successful.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 183: The secrets to effective business development and getting more clients - with Deb Feder of Feder Development

Jeremy Cline 0:00
How do you get more clients? How would you get more work for your business? I was always very happy when I was a lawyer doing the work. I was also very happy networking. But what I felt like I really struggled with was getting new work in. So, what's the secret? Well, that's what we're going to find out in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:39
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the podcast that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, you're in the right place. Now, I think I'm pretty okay at networking. And what I mean by that is, I don't find it all that difficult chatting to random new people that I've just met at some corporate do. It wasn't always like that. I used to feel physically anxious about going to these events, like I didn't belong there and had nothing to say. But over time, I've got more comfortable and better at it. The piece I felt like I could never figure out though, was how to turn this into new clients, new business. And that felt like a problem, because as I got more senior and more experienced as a lawyer, I thought I should be winning new work. So, what's the secret? How do you do business development to, well, develop business? That's what we're going to talk about this week. And I'm delighted to welcome this week's guest who's going to help us. A former corporate lawyer, Deb Feder is a business growth coach and strategist who helps lawyers and leaders build outstanding careers. Deb, welcome to the show.

Deb Feder 1:51
Thanks for having me.

Jeremy Cline 1:53
So, you've got a new book out, you've got one, I gather, also coming out. Why don't you start by telling us about, well, whichever you want or both?

Deb Feder 2:01
So, After Hello: How to Build a Book of Business, One Conversation at a Time is the book that's out right now. And it is being followed later this year with Tell Me More. And they really do work together. One is about getting into the conversations, which you just alluded to, and then the next one, Tell Me More, we're talking about how to use everyday interactions to turn those conversations into opportunities.

Jeremy Cline 2:29
So, what was the gap that you saw, that you felt needed to be addressed by your books?

Deb Feder 2:35
People would often come to me with the exact situation that you described in the intro. I can get to the event, I have conversations, I have a lot of conversations, but I don't see them turning into something, or there's so much opportunity or options out there, and I'm not sure which conversations I should have, or how to go about this, so I don't do anything at all. And my first book was really about, let's just step into the conversations, let's confidently own your space and start building great relationships, for no other reason than it can be really great fun, and turn into opportunity. From there, people started calling me and saying, 'Okay, I'm doing the conversations, I'm having them. How do I turn these into business?' And we really needed to break it down into two different books, so it wasn't overwhelming. What I found, if it's overwhelming, we're not going to do it. So, that's really where it started.

Jeremy Cline 3:35
So, starting at high level, what does the term business development mean to you?

Deb Feder 3:40
Business development means to me as simple as create. Well, let me back up. I think that there's three stages of business development. I think that when you are introduced to a client or have a current client that wants to give you more work and hire you as the professional, that's bringing in business. In a legal context, you're now the attorney. If you are then hired a little bit more, they come back to you with more projects, they start giving you a little bit more, you're now transitioning from the attorney to a trusted adviser. And as that space, and that often is where people hope to be, I'd like to offer up that there's one other, next step up, that is really where your career changes its trajectory, which is when you become the trusted thinking partner. This is when they're calling you to bounce ideas, regardless of whether or not it's in your area of expertise. Somebody wants to bring you in and just have you at the strategy table. They want to know who you would hire for something that they need, because they know it's not your space, but they recognise and respect your input. Each of these are business development, they are a way to deepen a relationship with a client, they're actually taking a network, a relationship, a conversation, and turning it into the actual work.

Jeremy Cline 5:14
What is it about BD that just seems so challenging for those in professional services, like lawyers? And feel free to shoot down the premise of the question, if you think that there is an inaccurate premise behind it.

Deb Feder 5:27
I do not think there's an inaccurate premise. I think that there's two things. One, it's not what we all went to school for. There was not a class, nor do I actually advocate that there should have been a class back then on how do you build a strong successful practice. When you're starting out, you're just learning the craft, you're learning how to be a lawyer, how to be the professional. As your career grows, there comes a point where all of that creates a great foundation, and now you need to know how to do the rest, how to build a practice, how to build a strong practice. And it's just not something that comes naturally to many people. It's not what we studied. So, I think that's the first thing. I think the second is that there's a lot of thought behind, follow the leader, follow what others have done, and do that, and one day it will work for you. The problem with that is, professional services are relationship driven. They are built on conversations and a connection between individuals. That means your personality, your approach, your expertise is different than mine, as is that of our clients. And what we really need to do is find the way that works for you. I once had somebody say to me that they had gone to it a seminar, and somebody had announced you're either born to develop business or not. And they called me, very upset, saying, 'I was certainly not born to develop business.' And I just think that goes back to that premise of there's one way to do this. And in fact, there's many ways. We just have to find the right way that works for you, your personality, what energises you, what kind of practice you have, and what you really want to build.

Jeremy Cline 7:27
I want to come back to this, these multiple ways of doing it and finding the one which suits you. But first, I'd like to ask you, what was I doing wrong? What was the thing that I wasn't doing? So, I was going to these events, I was building relationships, quite often seeing the same people multiple times, having a great time, maybe going to a two- or three-day conference in a far-flung place and enjoying drinks at the bar and all that kind of stuff. But it felt like it never converted into one of these people phoning up to say, 'Hey, Jeremy, I got some work for you.' So, what wasn't I doing, or what was I doing wrong?

Deb Feder 7:27
Well, let me ask you a question first. When you went to these events, what were you thinking walking into the room? First of all, were you excited to walk into the room?

Jeremy Cline 8:19
More often than not, yes. Particularly when it was certain conferences organised by certain organisations, which I knew that, going back to a word you used, they were going to be fun, and I was going to get on with the people, and I probably would leave the conference feeling usually quite exhausted, because they did have a culture of going out partying late at night, but also quite energised that I'd had a really good time, a really fun time.

Deb Feder 8:48
Okay. And when you came back from the conferences, what did you do with all of the conversations and connections that you had made?

Jeremy Cline 8:57
I sent them an email saying, 'Lovely to meet you.'

Deb Feder 9:00
Okay.

Jeremy Cline 9:00
That's pretty much it.

Deb Feder 9:01
Right. So, what I would suggest is two things. When we walk into the room, often there's this real focus on getting there, getting the energy, excitement of walking in there, with no plan, zero strategy. What I like to tell people to do is walk into that room, see the people, have the fun conversations, and find, depending on the size, depending on the event, my suggestion is usually three, three people that you are excited to continue the conversation with next week. Which means you have to keep mingling, right? So, we want to give you a purpose in the room, other than finding conversations that are fun. That's my first suggestion. The next is how you follow up and follow through, and then continue to nurture the relationship. So, 'It was lovely to meet you' is a wonderful first start. I would offer up that expanding that to, 'And I would love to continue the conversation about', whatever you were talking about, or one particular area of interest, 'let me know what your schedule looks like in the next few weeks, when we could jump on a call.' Now you've invited it one very small step forward.

Jeremy Cline 10:20
And I think there you have highlighted one of the things I wasn't doing, which was that I would go back to the office with a stack of business cards, and I would follow them all on LinkedIn, and I would send them all an email, but I wouldn't actually give much thought to who of these people are met might there be scope for us to do more work together. I think that was probably the piece I was missing.

Deb Feder 10:45
So, I actually have a phrase that came from a client of mine, she called me after a conference and said, 'I've got this stack of business cards. How do I figure out, how do I sort these, how do I figure out the conversation to have next?' And I said, 'Well, we're going to take a first cut.' I said, some of these people you met in the buffet line, you were standing on opposite sides of shaping dishes, and you asked, 'Are those scalloped potatoes?' That person you do not need to write an email to, because you don't know anything about them. Right, you could do a LinkedIn connection, you could do, it was great to meet you in the dinner line, but at that point, you've had no other conversation. So, I now call it the scalloped potato line. If that is all that happened, it's probably not at the stage of nurturing. But I also think that there's some use in having, honestly, a worksheet, either on your phone or in your hotel room, where you say, you know, opening cocktail party, and have three names, like three blanks there, go back and write them down and one quick thing that you want to remember about them, and use that as a way to give yourself a plan the following week.

Jeremy Cline 12:00
What do you think among professionals like lawyers are some of the common misconceptions that they have about business development?

Deb Feder 12:10
That it's only for the extroverts. That's just rubbish. That it requires you to be salesy, or that you just have to get your name out there over and over and over again, and one day they'll call you.

Jeremy Cline 12:23
The extrovert one is going to chime with a lot of people, because there are an awful lot of introverted lawyers out there. So, what do you say to your introverted clients? And I'm sure you have many of them.

Deb Feder 12:38
Here's the thing, if you're suggesting, people like to have an energetic connection with the people that they're working with, so first of all, let's not assume that all of the clients are looking for that particular energy. That being said, what people really want is to work with people who are enthusiastic and interested in the work. So, if you walk in the room, and you're like, I think it has less to do with extrovert-introvert and how you find the energy from being with other people, and more about how you can convey your personal enthusiasm for the work and for the client. Being interested in somebody else and being interested in the topic radiates, it shines from you. And people can't help but want to learn more. We love having, I used to have a happy hour at a firm that I worked with, and several of the partners, who were incredible practitioners, would sit in the room and literally break down crazy, complicated issues. And you know what? It was hard to understand, but when you could just pause and listen to their brilliance and how excited they would get in breaking down the most complicated deal imaginable, you couldn't help but jump around the table and want to understand it. And the people that we're working with, they want that, too.

Jeremy Cline 14:11
This is another question which I think might have a slightly interesting premise to it, and that's the balancing business development activities with the primary job. So, if you're a lawyer, you probably see your primary job as giving legal advice. In my case, it was largely about giving tax advice. That's what I was being paid for. That was what I could legitimately start and stop the clock for. I suspect that an answer to that may be something along the lines of, well, actually, business development is as much part of your job as well. If it is, but I'm going to stop putting words in your mouth and get your take on it.

Deb Feder 14:54
Okay, so it is. However, let's go back. Doing really good work and being responsive to your clients is incredible business development, right? It's how they refer you to somebody else. It's why they speak highly of working with you. It's why they send you more work. When you are responsive, when you're reliable, when you're predictable, in a good way, then it helps generate more business from that source. Is that fair?

Jeremy Cline 15:25
Yeah, I completely agree. And that reminds me of something someone said how for lawyers, I forget what percentage it was, but it was a pretty high percentage of referrals that come from existing clients.

Deb Feder 15:37
Absolutely. You want people to love working with you, and to say, you know who you call, right, you call Jeremy. The second piece of it is, I think we've got this idea that it's going to take a whole day, right? I typically break down business development tasks for my clients in five- to 10-minute chunks. That's one way. The other way is knowing how to take a conversation you're already in with a client or a colleague, somebody else on a deal team, whatever it might be, and say, 'Well, I've got you here, can I ask you a question? I'd love to get your perspective.' And all of a sudden, you've moved the conversation into business development, without ever saying, 'I'd like to pitch you for the work.'

Jeremy Cline 16:27
Another thing I think I've recently learned is that a who-do-you-know question can actually be quite powerful. So, when you've done a great piece of work for a client, you can ask them, 'Who else do you know, who would benefit from this kind of advice?' And framing it as a who do you know, rather than do you know someone, where they can just answer yes or no. Asking it in an open way forces them to give it a bit of thought.

Deb Feder 16:56
I have found, it's a great question, I have found that clients often get a little hesitant on asking for even that much of a referral. So, another way to say it is, who else should I be talking to? Who else do you suggest that I connect with? I'm looking to learn more about this, I want to make sure that I'm able to share this resource, who else would you make sure that I connect with? And then, it's less of who else needs me, and how can I help others, or who else has expertise and experience that would be a valuable match for both of us.

Jeremy Cline 17:38
Yeah, and that's slightly a less forward, and so possibly less threatening kind of question, which I can see people might be a bit more comfortable with.

Deb Feder 17:48
The more that we can make it so it is an easy lift for you to engage in the work and engage in that practice of growing your practice, as well as for the person on the other side of the table to participate and continue it, the easier it is for everybody, the better it is for everybody.

Jeremy Cline 18:11
Everyone, I think, whether they know it or not, has some kind of a personal brand. Even if they never show up on LinkedIn or something, then they probably have a personal brand for the people who know them. And their brand might just be an absence of a brand for the people who don't know them. I'm interested in your take on personal brand, where it fits, and how you create something which is authentic, particularly if you aren't someone who shows off and posts everything on LinkedIn or that kind of thing.

Deb Feder 18:52
Okay, so for somebody who posts a lot on LinkedIn, and you and I talked about this before this recording, I think there is a way to show up in conversations, in your thought leadership, on social media platforms that is authentically you. What you want, the ideal is that when somebody calls you, your personality and approach and brand, so to speak, is exact same as as you showed up on LinkedIn in an article, on a panel, whatever. If there's a disconnect, it actually creates a gulf of trust, right? Where now they're like, 'Oh, are you this way, or are you that way?' Right? We want it to be a direct match. So, being yourself and showing up as you goes a tremendously long way. My thoughts on personal branding are mixed. I will say that I think that you have to own who you are and your expertise, experience, and all the things that you bring to the table. So, After Hello, I suggest we start off with a timeline of your career. And it's not like your resume. But it's the lessons you learned, how different experiences shaped you. Because all of that is what you bring to the work that you do today. And this timeline continues, right? There is no end point. And it starts with your very first job when you were delivering pizzas, or if you were me, you were running errands, and you learned to parallel park. Certain things became a part of how you work, how you treat people, how you want to be treated. When we dive down into getting too formulaic about a personal brand, I think it actually cuts off the authenticity and becomes more about buzzwords. And I always hesitate to say, don't make it try to sound pretty yet, let's get to the crux of who you are, what you want to be known for, and what your clients value in you.

Jeremy Cline 21:01
Tell me a bit more about this exercise where you go through the chronology. Is this like an internal thought experiment kind of thing, which then can uncover things to use forward? Is this something which you bring elements into your own stories, so you kind of share about the time that you learned how to parallel park as a pizza delivery person, or that kind of thing? I'm curious as to where this exercise takes you.

Deb Feder 21:32
So, both. Right? Back to where we started, humans want to work with other humans. So, understanding what you, your history, your experiences, really have been, more than three bullet points about the expertise you learned on a project. You learn a lot of other things. And a lot of those skills are incredibly valuable to your clients, and to the work that you want to grow and develop. Is that fair? There's more to it. How you approach a negotiation, how you bring a team together, how you conquer a challenge. And sometimes we can explain it through a story way more effectively than we can from, I lead a team of 90 people, right? So, that's one piece of it. The other piece of it is reminding yourself all that you have done and all that you have gone through to develop not only your expertise and experience, but to own your value. Especially when you are billing by the hour, and those numbers get larger and larger as your career progresses, one of the challenges is really understanding that you're worth that value. And reminding yourself of all that you have done and built and studied and experienced and figured out, and how all of that is additional value that backs up the book smarts, and they work the work knowledge. And it's creating the total package.

Jeremy Cline 23:15
What example can you give someone who went through this timeline exercise and had a sort of an a-ha or whoo, yeah, I'd forgotten about that moment?

Deb Feder 23:29
I was working through the exercises with some clients right after the book came out. And first, it surprised me because somebody who had worked with me for years came back and said, 'Ah, this timeline is gold. I forgot that I had these moments.' And part of the exercises thinking about clients that were not awesome, that you had to work through and what that taught you, or a time that you had an incredible boss, and a time where you had one that wasn't a perfect fit for you. And looking at the themes, and so when we drew it out, her themes, all of a sudden, started to make sense in exactly why she delivers her work to clients the way she does today, and all of a sudden, there was this a-ha of, this is how I can explain it, that makes so much more sense, because here's the constant theme, and what I know is that this is exactly what a client needs. And now it gave her the avenue to be able to express it differently. And it was a huge value add to the whole proposition of why to hire her.

Jeremy Cline 24:39
There's a lot to be said, isn't there, for going back and picking out these themes. So, whether it is the way you do work, whether it's a way of extracting your own personal values, whether it's a way of looking back and seeing the stuff that you've really enjoyed, the longer a career you've had, and the further you can go back, there's an awful lot of material that can inform those sorts of things, I find.

Deb Feder 25:08
Absolutely. And I will tell you, if you want a great icebreaker, go ask everybody to start talking about their very first jobs. And I don't mean first professional job. When you start getting everybody talking about that very first, whether it was babysitting, delivering papers, pizzas, their energy shifts, and they get really excited, either they loved it or hated it. But there's always a story, right? And it's usually a ridiculous one of some sort. But the energy, watch them have that energy, and then we talk about how do we bring that energy to what you're doing today. Because how you're talking about that job makes me actually want to go to the pizza parlour and see what you did. I wouldn't be very good at it, but I'd like to go. That being said, what we want is people to be able to talk about what they're doing today a little bit more relaxed, and a lot more in a way that allows for connection.

Jeremy Cline 26:05
We've touched on the question of authenticity. And I think particularly when you're perhaps a little bit earlier on in your career, you see the Rainmaker Partners, you see the things they do, and you think you've got to be like them. That's the definition of success. And then, in some cases, maybe you can be like them, and that's what comes naturally, or you do it, and you find it's really, really hard, and it feels wrong, and it feels icky, and it just feels like, oh, wow, it really can't be this much hard work. So, what are some of the steps that you can take to figure out what is authentically you in a business development sense?

Deb Feder 26:53
So, I suggest setting aside the desire to go after the book, right? And instead, let's get curious. Let's go engage in some curious conversations, where you can be learning from your clients, your colleagues, your prospects, and really understanding their perspective. And you will start to see naturally, when you have a really great strategy and a couple of good strategic questions, you will start to see ways that you can help. And from there, you can navigate, you can hear the themes. So, you talk to three to five clients, connections, about one particular question. You will start to hear common themes that resonate. Now, you can talk about that. And if it resonates with three to five, it's going to resonate with more. And it allows you to naturally be part of a conversation, rather than just thinking it's about getting out there to pitch.

Jeremy Cline 27:55
So, if I've understood this right, it's about asking some questions, and we can talk about examples of those questions in a sec, but then listening to the answers and seeing what resonates, and that gives you an indication as to what fits with you, what's authentic for you?

Deb Feder 28:14
Yeah. I mean, listen, I'll just cut right to the next piece of this. So, far too often, somebody will come to me and say, 'Deb, we had this amazing idea, we were going to have a tool for our clients, and it would allow them to map out all this stuff, we spent a year in development, I brought all the people together to create this. And it's not really landing how we thought. We can't really get the clients to use it how we thought. How do we get in front of more people?' And here's the thing, all of that was built not in conversation with the clients. So, instead, if you go to the clients and say, 'Listen, we see this regulatory change coming down, or we see this new development, I'm curious, what are the tools and resources that you're looking for that would help you make better decisions day-to-day?' Okay. And let's say, instead of some really fancy online tool, they say, 'Honestly, I just need a checklist. I need a checklist of the five things that I need to be thinking about every time we look at one of these transactions.' Okay? And you talk to three or four people, and the word checklist pops up a few times. Are you going to spend a lot of man hours and a lot of money building out this piece online that looks incredible, or is the quick, fast checklist that's built with your clients more valuable? And the answer, honestly, depends. If they really do need the online tool so they can push it out to a larger group, that's great, start with here's what we're doing, we've got this quick checklist, we would love your input on it, now you're building it with them. And we have plans to be able to automate this for you to be able to share it with others.

Jeremy Cline 30:10
This is something that you hear talked about all the time in different kinds of product development. So, like software companies, or that kind of thing, where they will go to their audience and find out the pain points and then bring them along as the tool gets developed. I can't remember ever having heard professional lawyers in particular talk about that. It always seems to be it's in a closed room where they go, 'This is what we're going to do", and they just kind of assume that it's going to be, build it, and they will come.

Deb Feder 30:40
So, that is from the great movie Field of Dreams, if you haven't seen it, we're going to build this baseball field, I'm from Iowa, so I can talk about this, right? But that's not the most efficient way for professional service providers to be building trust and better relationships. When you build it with them, when you're in conversation with them, and you're making it useful, I mean, one of my very best business development tools ever was a one-page worksheet that literally said, 'Question one, what do you want to achieve from this?' And I literally had like, circle the answers, and then a little blank. Does the other side agree? Right? Very basic, but as we were able to really pause and understand are we on the same page, it became a really great conversation tool for us to have.

Jeremy Cline 31:37
Let's just go back to this authenticity. So, you talked about some questions, which you can ask when you're considering putting together a solution to a problem. But perhaps where someone is still exploring what authentic means for them, how they show up, and they're going to some kind of a networking event, what maybe a couple of strategic questions that they can have up their sleeve, which can help to inform them what is the stuff that interests them and resonates with them?

Deb Feder 32:16
Well, first, before I even go to the topics, think about when you walk into a room, where do you feel most comfortable? Do you want to head over to the bar and grab a drink? Maybe get a bite at the buffet table? Do you see a friend and want to connect with them? Where is it that you gravitate to in the room? And just own that and say, 'That's going to be my first step.' So, being authentic to yourself and just being comfortable with that first step. And do I need to grab a friend beforehand and make a plan to go together, whatever it might be. That's step one. Number two is, I suggest making a list. And this is, honestly, the same list I would say for a networking event, as well as content development for, let's say, LinkedIn, or client alerts, make a list of all the things your clients either are talking about, seem to be the buzz in the industry, or that they're calling you about. Okay, that's list one. List two is all the stuff you'd like to be talking about. Forget list one for a minute, and just make a list of all the stuff, some of it might be very technical, some of it might just be, you know, I like to talk about music. Whatever it might be for you, make the list. And then pause and ask yourself, where do these intersect? Do they? And if they don't, let's talk about how we can make some connections between the topics. But if there is a space where you're like, 'You know what, this seems to be a popular topic, and I really do love to talk about it too', just allowing yourself a deep breath and saying, 'If I need to rely on a topic, this is a good one to go to.' I kind of always say like, nobody really wants to go to a cocktail party and talk about indemnification clauses. It tends not to be the conversation. That being said, when somebody is really excited about a new development and can't wait to share the news, enthusiasm is contagious.

Jeremy Cline 34:19
What are some of the perhaps more innovative or less well-known or less well-trodden or slightly off-beat ways that people have successfully built their book? Maybe they have a particular style, which is, I don't know, not the traditional Rainmaker sort of thing. Curious to know what you've come across.

Deb Feder 34:45
Oh, there's so many. That's such a great question. A couple of them I can't share, because I've told clients, that's like your gold, I won't give away that secret. So, I think that one is, I've seen many working parents who recognise that they have potential clients, or don't even recognise that they have potential clients, maybe in activities with their children, that one strategy is to always send your emails from your work email with your footer in it, so that people know what you do. And it becomes a conversation where you can talk about what you do a little bit more naturally on the side-lines of a game or at the class party, rather than trying to keep your lives completely separate. So, people will call me all the time and say, 'You know what, there's all these parents that I'd love to actually have a conversation with, but how do I go about it, but I've kept everything apart.' The more you can just allow it to be naturally integrated helps, and acts as a natural conversation starter. Another conversation starter and really a power booster is being willing to just say, no matter what, I'm always going to introduce myself. And not in like a weird, pitchy way, we don't need an elevator speech. But just, you know, 'Hi, I'm Deb, it's so great to meet you.' I mean, I honestly met an incredible connection on a bike tour in France, can't make this up, because I was the person at the back always falling off the bike, but this other person was, too. And you know what? You fall off a bike two or three times, you start to talk about the rest of your life. Because the rest of the group is miles ahead of you, you're not sure you're going to make it, and if you start talking, it turns out, you stop thinking about falling, and you stay on the bike a lot longer.

Jeremy Cline 36:46
Let's talk briefly about metrics of success. Obviously, an obvious metric is when you do actually bring in new business, and you do send that bill, and you can say, hey, that originated from me. But that could be quite a long way down the line. So, what else can you kind of look at to check whether you're on the right track, you're doing the right sorts of stuff?

Deb Feder 37:12
So, I have a calendar that I put out for my clients, that has two tasks every day. They're like five-minute tasks. But the key is, where I see great metrics is not just do the tasks, like how many did you do, that's one metric. Another one, though, is what happened. I sent out three emails from this week's tasks, and this is what happened. And when you start to have a weekly accountability check-in, it changes, one, you can start to see the progress faster, you can start to realise all that you're doing, or if something's not working, you can stop it. So, I think, actually, knowing what doesn't work for you is an equally important metric. I think that knowing the number of connections made, how much work is generated, but how many conversations did you have this week? When I asked somebody who's starting to work with me how many networking slash conversations did you, kind of reconnecting with clients or prospects in a month? And if I hear three to four, that number is just, the odds are stacked against you, right? There is something to be said, you need to increase those numbers in a doable way with your busy schedule. So, what are the conversations you're having? How are we tracking them? And what can we see that happens next? Are you progressing the conversation, even one step forward? So, little metrics, I think, go a long way to then being able to translate to those dollars. Does that make sense?

Jeremy Cline 38:53
Yeah, I'm curious what tools people use for this. I mean, is it just as simple as a spreadsheet? Or do people have like their own, I mean, I know law firms and other professional services firms have their own CRMs, but I'm curious as to what people use to kind of measure their own personal progress.

Deb Feder 39:10
So, I separate a networking like a nurturing plan, and I put that on a spreadsheet that is separate from a CRM. So, a CRM is a great tool, if you have it, and if it's working for you. But if you can have a, who is my current nurturing list very easily in front of you, where you can see, these are the people I met, so go back to your conference, you had a great time, you met five people that you want to continue the conversation with, I can quickly put those five people on this spreadsheet and then track, need to send the article, having a conversation, going to see in two weeks at that next event. Great, I just know it. And it kind of pulls it forward. Right? The analogy I give is, you ever go to the grocery store and food shopping, and you see a long aisle filled with spaghetti sauces. Every single one of those is a connection. I need to remember who I'm in current conversation with, I need to pull that forward, so I can really see where I'm actively engaged right now. I don't know if the spaghetti sauce right there worked as an analogy, but you know what I'm talking about.

Jeremy Cline 40:21
It's making me feel slightly hungry. There's been some fantastic tips here. Tools or resources, what can you recommend that people look into, if they want to find out more on this subject?

Deb Feder 40:35
So, I always like to say, step out of the box a little bit. I don't know that you need to go down the rabbit hole of getting super organised, getting all the pieces lined up perfectly. I find inspiration out there in the world. So, there's a great book called Make No Small Plans. And it really talks about, I mean, when I tell you their goal, I don't want to give it away, but their goal was massive, and how this team of friends went about building something magnificent. I highly recommend it. And I always tell my clients, I've given the book away many times, and I say, just know this, not to give the punchline away, I don't want to buy a mountain, but I think it's pretty cool that they did. I find inspiration there, go out and engage in the world, go play around a golf or go bowling or listen to music or take a walk and start to allow yourself to just reconnect to who you are and what you enjoy, both at the office and outside the office, and one conversation at a time.

Jeremy Cline 41:53
Where should people go if they want to find you and get in touch?

Deb Feder 41:58
So, my website is debfeder.com. I'm also active on LinkedIn. And I'm there most days, I should say. If you want to get the timeline that we talked about, at debfeder.com/guide. That's actually the guide that comes with After Hello, but the whole timeline exercise is in there. And you can download it, and it gives you all the instructions that the book talks about, but you can have the guide separately.

Jeremy Cline 42:27
Brilliant. As always, I will put links to those in the show notes for this episode. Deb, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Deb Feder 42:34
Thank you for having me. Loved the conversation.

Jeremy Cline 42:37
Okay, hope you enjoyed that episode with Deb Feder. I said in the intro to this episode that I always felt like I struggled getting new work in. Now, I'm starting to question that, having listened to what Deb had to say. Because one of the things that I did was, generally, I would do a pretty good job. And I actually got quite a lot of internal referrals at my last place of work. And when I think about it, you know what, I was actually doing business development, and I was getting in new work. What I wasn't doing, and this is perhaps what I had a hang up about, was getting in, if you like, external clients. All of my work was coming internally. But you know what, that is what worked for me. And that was one of the key messages coming out of my conversation with Deb. It's about finding what works for you, what fits with you, that you can do authentically. The big takeaway was that I recognised that sometimes I wasn't intentional about who I wanted to follow up with. So, if I went to a conference, and I got a stack of business cards, I would usually send a message to all of them, but then never really think about who specifically I wanted to follow up with and why. Now, that's definitely something that I'm going to think about more as I continue to build my coaching practice. You'll find the show notes for this episode at changeworklife.com/183, that's changeworklife.com/183. And whilst you're there, check out what I've got to say about coaching at changeworklife.com/coaching, that's changeworklife.com/coaching. This question of authenticity comes up time and time again. And it really is about better understanding who you are, where your skills lie, what your values are, and doing things in alignment with that. I spend a good two, maybe even three sessions, with all of my clients, first of all, diving deep into what is it that makes you tick. What are the things that you really quite enjoy doing some of this? What are the things that, oh, my goodness, you just can't imagine anything worse? What are the things that are important to you? There's a quote I love, I think it was from Dolly Parton, I'm probably going to misquote it, but it was something along the lines of, find out what you enjoy, and then do it on purpose. And that's the philosophy I really do embrace. So, if you feel like what you do or how you do it is a struggle, then maybe take a look at my coaching pages and have a think about whether I could be someone that you might want to work with. As we move into the second half of 2024, wow, how did that happen, well, we've got more great interviews to come. So, make sure that, if you haven't subscribed to the show, that you do subscribe, and I can't wait to see you in two weeks' time. Cheers. Bye.

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