Business development
for professionals

Is there business development DNA in your bones?

Are you Neanderthal or Homo sapiens when it comes to winning work?

Funny stuff, DNA. Apparently, much of the population of the world outside Africa possesses a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA.

In terms of winning new business, we all have different DNA profiles. Only a few lucky individuals have what I would call ‘BD DNA’ in their bones. These are the super networkers, who frequently attend meetings with prospective clients, have a consistent healthy pipeline of new opportunities and successfully win new work.

Can this be attributed to ‘natural’ ability, an ambitious mind-set or do they simply spend more time developing new business than others?

This raises two important questions.

How much time do you spend every day developing your business and how much time should you spend?

This could take the form of hosting a seminar, attending a networking event, calling a prospective new client or simply sending connection invitations on LinkedIn.

The perceived wisdom is that all professionals should try and perform at least some business development related activity every day. I have even seen it suggested that busy professionals should be blocking two hours out of their diaries every day for BD, as well as 90 minutes for personal development and 30 to 60 minutes for content creation.

By my maths that makes a total of between four and five hours every day of activity that is not directly income generative. Where is the time for ‘real’ cash producing work I hear you ask? That’s totally unrealistic, others might say.

But if you are struggling to fit any time for BD into your working day, it is important to examine and understand the underlying influencing factors. Here are some possibilities.

Does your organisation have an unblinkered vision of its future? Without a clear and unambiguous understanding amongst leadership of the future of the business and the types of clients that will help to forge that vision, the focus of business development activity will be blurred.

Does the firm have a dynamic business development culture? By that I mean a reasonable supporting budget, leadership willing to take risks and try what’s new and an ambitious marketing committee. A culture where staff and colleagues are actively encouraged to look for new work opportunities.

A lack of resources can paralyse even the most modest business development ambitions. Even if you can’t block off time for business development, an audit of where you spend your time on a daily and weekly basis is often helpful and will allow for proficient scheduling.

Many professionals, even those at senior level, feel they lack the necessary skills and knowledge to engage with prospects and develop a deeper understanding of the needs of existing clients. Bespoke training or coaching can help to build confidence and instil a positive attitude towards building relationships.

If all or some of these issues chimes with you, it is time to reframe how you approach embedding business development into your working day. You can do all the blocking and scheduling that you like, but if the underlying root cause of the lack of BD activity is not addressed, your ambitions for yourself and your business are likely to stall or remain stuck in neutral.

Above all accepting the need to do at least a small amount of business development every day may involve a change of mind-set. You may not be able to alter your DNA, but you can influence your environment and those around you. After all, your business doesn’t want to suffer the same fate as the Neanderthals.

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