How to make time for business development

The dilemma: You have a full client workload and a daily chargeable time target of over 6 hours a day. However, you need to build your own client portfolio. That is a full job in its own right. You need some time-effective business development tips. So, is it any wonder that business development often gets de-prioritised to make way for other stuff?

Heather Townsend explores the 5Ps that you need to make sure you always make time for business development, and that your business development efforts pay off.


It is boring, but if you work to a business development plan, you are more likely to make the time for business development. After all, as the saying goes, if you don't know where you are going, any route will get you there. Without a clearly defined plan with tasks scheduled in your diary, it is going to be hard to make time for business development.


Life in the professions is all about choices, and how you make those choices. It is all too easy to throw your hands up in the air and say you don't have time for business development. But the professionals who prioritise their business development activities are normally the ones who make it through to partner. These people treat their business development activities with the same importance as client work. What can you do to carve out some time every day for your most important client, your future employability? The reality of business development is you can always do more. Therefore, prioritise exactly what you will do and who you will target, and you will find you have more time than you realise for business development.


At the beginning with business development, there always seems to be so much to do, and so many business development tips you can implement. Rewrite your LinkedIn profile, blog weekly (or just regularly), speak with prospects, build up your network . . . The list can be endless. However, if you try to do it all at once, either you burn out very quickly or the opposite occurs, and nothing happens. When we work with clients we encourage them to work to a 30/60/90 day business development action plan.

Prospect List (particularly if your target market is big business)

Like many business development tips, often the traditional advice still holds. Identify a list of clients that you would love to act for. Then you can really focus your networking time around getting in front of these organisations.

Pass down (or delegate)

You don't need to do all of your business development activities. Trainees, juniors and interns are great for researching prospects and marketplaces. How about asking junior members of your team to help you co-write a blog post? For example, one of our clients heads up a sector team in her firm. She asks the trainees who are interested in joining her sector team to research and find good articles to send to clients and introducers. That way, her trainees get a deeper knowledge of the sector and she gets a series of curated articles that she can easily send on. When you delegate business development activities it can truly be a win-win for everyone concerned.

Delegation doesn't necessarily need to be business development activities. What  other stuff can you delegate down to others to free up more of your time for business development? For example:

•     Can you ask your secretary to make sure that keeping in touch with the right people in your network actually happens?

•     How about getting the trainees in your team to help you with more of the admin type tasks that come with client work, such as opening a file on the system?

This article was published as part of the MCA Managers Network, and was originally featured on the How to make partner website.

About Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend is the leading global expert on what it takes to make, and when you get there, stay there. As well as How to make partner and still have a life’, (click here for a free sample chapter) she is the author of ‘The Go-To Expert’, ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking’, ‘Poised for partnership’. She regularly blogs at how to make partner.