What I’ve Learned About Business Development From My Personal Trainer

I recently started a new, more intense exercise regimen. While I’m convinced of the benefits of regular exercise, and while those benefits appeal to me, I eagerly embrace any excuse not to exercise. Can you relate to this ambivalence when it comes to your marketing?

Not surprisingly, many of the lessons for treating ambivalence about exercise will also help with your business development.

  1. Gather the right “equipment.”The first morning of my new exercise regimen, it took me 15 minutes to get out the door. I had to round up my iPod, the iPod’s headphones (which my son had borrowed), a hat (emblazoned with the name of a favorite client law firm), sunglasses and a heart rate monitor. Once I was out the door, I had to go back because I had forgotten to apply sunscreen.

    Those 15 minutes offered plenty of time to talk myself out of exercising (it was too hot, I was tired, I had to get to the office–you get the idea). If I was going to exercise first thing in the morning, I realized I would need to prepare the night before.

    Similarly, there are certain things you need to prepare in advance so you can do business development regularly. For example, you might create a modular bio that makes it easy to highlight specific parts of your background depending on a prospective client’s needs, or you might schedule regular time to keep your contact management system up to date.

    Many a business development initiative has stalled because the proper “gear” wasn’t readily available.

  2. Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.One day I was out the door when I realized I had forgotten my iPod. While I was back inside getting it, the phone rang. The conversation lasted longer than I expected, and guess what? I never made it to the gym that day.

    I recently heard a story about a colleague who wanted to find the perfect gym after relocating to a new town. Every gym was lacking in one way or another. Finally, he found one that seemed right only to discover that, unlike his former gym, this one didn’t wash his gym clothes. The result: He’s still looking for a gym and still not exercising.

    Don’t let your pursuit of the “perfect” approach keep you from connecting with a prospective client. Better to make a less-than-perfect contact than no contact at all.

  3. Let go of shoulds. Do what works.Over the past ten years, I’ve worked with several personal trainers. Once I got the routine down, I felt like I “should” be able to do it on my own.

    Guess what happened when I stopped working out with my trainer? Within weeks, I quit working out altogether. I’ve been through this cycle about five times (apparently, I’m a slow learner!) and have finally accepted that if I’m going to work out regularly, I need a trainer’s support. Since my health is important to me, I am willing to do what it takes (in this case, spend the money) for that to happen.

    Stop worrying how you “should” approach business development and start focusing on what it will take to get it done. Maybe, like me, you need a coach to hold you accountable. Maybe you should give up on those half-finished articles and have lunch with existing clients instead. Maybe you will attend networking events only if you promise yourself you can leave after 30 minutes.

    Determine what it takes to do your business development and then do it–never mind how you think you “should” approach business development.

  4. Start out with baby steps.I asked my trainer what my target heart rate should be. Her response: “Let’s get you exercising five times a week for 30 minutes each time. Then we can start worrying about whether you’re in the target heart rate zone. The important thing is making this a habit.”

    Funny I had missed that, since it mirrors my advice to my own clients. Yes, I believe you should do business development daily and be in touch with your “hottest” prospects monthly–but first, you need to get in the habit of doing business development consistently.

    If that means doing it three days a week and only contacting your hottest prospects quarterly, so be it (for starters).

  5. Just do it.For weeks I struggled to create the perfect schedule. Should I take Tuesday or Wednesday off? Should I work out Monday and Thursday morning and Tuesday and Friday night? Should my cardio on Tuesday be walking or elliptical training? (You think I’m kidding? I’m not.)

    Finally, my trainer said, “Set your alarm tomorrow morning and just do it.” It was the kick I needed. I’ve been on track for about a month. Is the schedule perfect? No. But Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings, I am doing it.

    My trainer said this is the biggest problem with what she calls cerebral people (like lawyers); they spend too much time trying to figure things out instead of taking action.

    When it comes to business development, you have to “Just do it.” Call the client you’ve been meaning to reconnect with today. Schedule lunch with that past referral source to ask for another referral. Walk down the hall and talk to your partner about that cross-selling opportunity.

Hiring my personal trainer is the best money I have spent. Just look what I’ve learned about business development!