Having a coach is great. They teach you new skills, boost your confidence, and hold you accountable. But what happens when the coach is no longer around? How many of those new skills do you still implement without the coach there to remind you to utilize them? Life happens, coaches, and self-help books, come and go; if you don’t retain anything from the experience, what was the point of having a coach in the first place?

After 30 years of being a coach, I have come across many clients who have had other coaches, both business development and otherwise. Usually when I ask them how the coaching went, it is rare that they have found long term value in the relationship because they don’t find themselves still practicing any of the habits the coach taught. If this sounds like you, you must know this is not a sustainable path towards becoming a top rainmaker in your business.

Without a system in place, it is nearly impossible to practice business development thoroughly and consistently. Systems are one of the biggest blind-spots of most coaching, training, and habit-building programs. Without incorporating incremental blocks of time in your day-to-day for your new skills, they will never take root.

I refer to this as business development malpractice because without being intentional about blocking time in your calendar, you are not making business development a priority. The best rainmakers know that business development is all about building relationships, and relationship building is about consistently reaching out to those you care about.

In a perfect world, we would be diligent in our relationships all the time. Lawyers left to their own devices practice law. Systems are important in relationship building because life happens; your kids are graduating high school and applying to college, you’re trying to make partner, you have a sick parent, you’re training for that marathon, and so on and so forth. Having a system in place keeps you in check with things seem to spin out of control.

There are many “right” ways to implement a system into your practice. I’m pragmatic enough to say do what works! Many of them don’t require much effort at all, and if you’re building relationships with people you enjoy, it will be fun! Here are a few ways to get started:

  • Block 15 minutes on your calendar once a week for business development and stick to it as you would any other client appointment. As you get better and it becomes more fun, add more time each week.
  • Be intentional and specific about your business development action steps. For example, instead of writing in your calendar “Business Development Time,” write “Call Jason; congratulate on recent promotion.”
  • Keep a list of people that you want to stay in touch with over time. Find a way to track how often you connect with them. Who are you over due to connect with?
  • Enlist your assistant in holding you accountable to the business development actions you wish to accomplish. Give him or her “nagging rights!”

I am willing to bet if you implement one or more of these into your schedule, you’ll find yourself looking forward to connecting with colleagues and friends more often. This holiday season, reach out to someone you’ve wanted to talk to all year.