Legal Blog

Four Major Business Development Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Business development is not rocket science, but it is easy to make some mistakes. Over the years, I have seen the best and the worst of them all, and I have noticed four very common mistakes that can be and should be avoided:

1. Increasing your network, instead of building meaningful relationships. 

If I could give one tip to every business development professional, it would be to focus on building meaningful relationships with your network. Of course, networking and expanding your contacts should always be a part of your work routine, but when it comes to acquiring clients, you need to get to know the people in your network better.

“Networking is about knowing more people; Connecting is about knowing people more.” – The John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, Episode #62

As you meet new people and cultivate relationships with them, you will begin to feel a connection building. If you continue to focus on those relationships, you will soon find yourself with a strong network of not only clients, but referral sources, evangelists, and industry leaders that will be of value along the way.

2. Being afraid to put yourself out there, instead of embracing your confidence.

This step is arguably the most difficult because it requires some inner strength. To build a book of business, you need to be sure of yourself and what you are working towards. To do this, you need to look inside and tap into your confidence.

What is it about your work that is driving you? What is it about your skill set or personality that makes you capable of accomplishing your goals? These are the types of questions you have to ask yourself if you want to be a successful business developer. You need to be confident in the work you are doing to grow your book of business.

Also, you need to put yourself out there for people to know who you are in the first place, which brings me to the next common mistake.

3. Marketing yourself sporadically, instead of consistently. 

Business development is a marathon, not a sprint. One of the pillars of great business development is marketing yourself consistently. The majority of business developers, and professionals in general, are active online and on social media only sporadically at best. In today’s day and age, you need to do more than lurk behind your computer screen. And you also need to do more than just “like” posts.

Now is the time for you to be an active participant on social media on a regular basis. Start posting and commenting on LinkedIn. Host an online event or offer to be a guest speaker. The only way people are going to know who you are is for you to get your name out there. And the best part is, it is free! You can become a recognized name, simply by posting meaningful and relevant content regularly on LinkedIn.

4. Selling, instead of listening and providing value. 

Even if you know for a fact that someone needs your services, do not start the relationship by selling. If you come out of the gates trying to sell, you are going to make them run for the hills! This is especially true when it comes to messaging new connections on LinkedIn. People want to work with people they know, like, and trust. This person has no idea who you are, so how are they going to know to trust you? Also, people buy based on emotion, and they justify their purchases based on logic, so lose the hard sell.

The key to good business development practices is to be a better listener and look to where you can provide value to that person. For example, let’s say you have a virtual coffee date with a new connection. If you ask the right questions and genuinely listen to their answers, you will start to see opportunities where you can be of assistance. Perhaps they express they need help with their IT and computer systems—you can connect them to one of your trusted IT partners. If the referral pays off, you not only just gained the trust of this new person, but you improved your relationship with your referral source. It is a win-win situation.


Well, there you have it. My top 4 business development mistakes and how you can avoid them. What business development mistakes do you see, and how can others avoid them? I want to know. Connect with Jim Ries on LinkedIn and share your thoughts »


Director of Business Development | 410.209.6455

Offit Kurman is a full-service law firm with over 225 attorneys focused on representing privately held businesses. With deep experience and knowledge dealing with the issues that business owners are regularly faced with, we bring value to every relationship. As Director of Business Development, Jim Ries drives revenue growth for Offit Kurman by helping business leaders and families of wealth address some their most difficult challenges. He also identifies and develops strategic partnerships and market opportunities. Jim has access to a deep network of attorneys in every practice area, and he is able to connect his clients to the right attorney who can resolve their legal disputes and protect their assets. Jim is a master networker, and his high-level connections call him for solutions when they don’t know who to call. Let Jim be your Google.




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