As your friendly neighborhood lawyer coach, I get the privilege of hearing excuses from attorneys on why business development growth is down right now.

While no one can deny that things are weird and different, the main justification for slumping originations is Zoom. Mainly, that in-person face-to-face meetings are where the magic happens. That being said, there are so many upsides to utilizing Zoom as a business tool that some can’t see the forest for the trees. If I’ve piqued your interest, then you’ll enjoy reading a few positive points on why Zoom is terrific and how you can grow business by leaning into it. Here are 10 suggestions to make Zoom work for your legal business development efforts during the pandemic.

Zoom tip #1: Video meetings are far better than using the phone. Is it possible that someone was rolling their eyes at you and you never knew it? People are nicer and more professional when they have to look at you directly. It’s also easier to convey non-verbal messages, like body language, which makes up 55% or more of your actual communication.

Zoom tip #2: Have you ever traveled to London for a client meeting in the morning, followed up with two prospect meetings in Los Angles that same day, while still being home for dinner that evening with your family? Zoom takes you places now that you just couldn’t acceptingly go to in yesterday’s world. Utilize the tool to be EVERYWHERE!

Zoom tip #3: Remember that General Counsel that ignores your requests to grab lunch sometime soon? Would that same person be more open to a 30-minute Zoom call? So, instead of a two-hour commitment including travel, the GC is off the Zoom call in 30 minutes, making it more likely that he/she would be open to meeting. What I can guarantee is that you’ll have zero chances if you don’t ask.

Now that I have your attention, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of being more effective when on your Zoom calls.

Zoom tip #4: Be sure to “set the stage” for your Zoom meetings to ensure success. This means having a professional and non-distracting background. Forget the virtual option, as it’s weird and can take focus away from you. Also, be sure your face is framed in the camera so your facial expressions can be seen. Lastly, have a light behind your computer to brighten up your face.

Zoom tip #5: Tip #1 mentioned non-verbal communication. Be sure to look into the camera, versus staring at someone’s face low down on the screen. I know this seems odd and hard to do but making eye contact is important in building trust and rapport. Additionally, use your hands to emphasize the points you are making. This will create a more impactful conversation or presentation for your online audience.

Zoom tip #6: Don’t wing it! Just like with any in-person visit, you MUST do your research prior to the Zoom call to ensure success. Does this sound familiar, “Hey, how are things? Can you believe the changing weather?” Really, that’s your opener? How about using the internet to find a recent post or article to comment on? Or discussing the person who introduced you? While this might sound like biz-dev 101, I’m amazed at how weak lawyers are at this simple tactic.

Zoom tip #7: Use the tools provided by Zoom to make your meetings more interactive. You have breakout rooms for group meetings, as well as screen sharing and annotations for presentations. Why not make the interaction with your client or prospect more action packed? These tools will be really helpful to drive the point home for the visual learners.

Zoom tip #8: When engaging on a Zoom call, make the interaction more about the other person. In addition to building your relationships by being an active listener, you can ask more questions to obtain more information from your Zoom partner. Be prepared with open-ended questions that will drive urgency and next steps. As you know, a person’s favorite subject is themselves.

Zoom tip #9: Pay attention to your Zoom audience’s attention. If you observe someone checking out their phone or looking away at other screens, you may be losing her/him. This is where all the other tips I just provided come into play. Lighting, eye contact and engaging questions will do much better than distracting backgrounds, staring down at your screen or talking endlessly about yourself.

Zoom tip #10: Avoid Zoom fatigue yourself by taking a lot of breaks throughout your day. Consider walking around the office/house every hour or two to stretch and stay fresh. I don’t know about you, but my daily meeting schedule has literally doubled since the pandemic started. Additionally, I can’t recommend enough using a standing desk or standing desk converter. I have the converter which was very inexpensive and allows me to stand for half the day. As an aside, my group presentations are always more engaging when I’m standing.

Well, that’s just 10 of many reasons why Zoom can be your best business development tool, if you allow yourself to be optimistic about it. You must learn how to use it properly to get the desired effect. I hope you can use some of these tips as but one resource to grow your book of business and finish Q4 with much success.

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