Business development is an important skill to develop during your training contract. After all, building relationships is part and parcel of life in the legal profession. But what exactly does it mean for a trainee and how can you get involved?
Your own relationships
At the beginning of your career, business development is really about getting to know your local market and the people and businesses within it.
It may sound obvious, but the best way to meet people is by attending as many events as possible, even if you’re not sure what you will take away from them. Whether it’s a breakfast seminar, a cheese and wine night with local businesses or an ale trail with other local professionals, most trainees find there is plenty going on which they can go along to. And even if there isn’t, there is nothing to stop you organising something yourself!
A lot of business communities also have a junior lawyer’s society, which hosts regular events ranging from rounders or mini golf to an annual ball. It’s a great way to meet others who are in a similar position to you. What’s more, you may find yourselves working on the same transactions and it’s always nice to put a face to a name!
The overall aim is to build relationships at a junior level which will continue to develop as you and your contacts progress through your career.
The wider business
The level of client contact you have as a trainee varies from firm to firm, but at Gateley, you are encouraged to get involved with marketing and client events rights from the start. This can range from entering a team into a charity quiz hosted by a client, to sponsoring a local sporting or seasonal event. The partners in your department and office will always be open to new ideas for engaging with the local business community, and you may even have the opportunity to co-ordinate the firm’s involvement yourself.
Whatever events you get involved with, the most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself! It is surprising how quickly you can build up a network of familiar faces and you will learn a lot about clients and local businesses along the way – which is a great foundation for you to build upon as you progress through your legal career.