What Fishing Can Teach You About Business Development | JD Supra Perspectives

Covid-19 has been a mixed blessing for those who have dreamed up taking up
new activities but somehow never found the time. From baking bread to
crocheting, the antidote for pandemic boredom is trying new things to stay
busy. Golfers are delighted that golf courses are now open, and many others
are discovering other safe social distancing activities like fishing.

Recreational fishing has been my favorite outdoor activity since childhood
and one which provides some helpful comparisons to relate to business

I don’t mean to take imply that your clients, like fish, should be grilled
and eaten for dinner (!) but that like fishing, it is very satisfying to
land new clients. And when you are out on the water for hours at a time
staring at your rod, your mind can wander on how you can grow your practice.

What are you fishing for?

Like fishing you need to be clear on the ideal client you are looking for. That will help you determine your strategy to successfully lure and catch them.

Know where to find the fish

You aren’t going to find lake trout in the ocean or an estate planning client at a Crunkcore concert.

Perhaps you know a great fisherman who is out on the water every day who
will sell or share his/her catch. Referrals are the easiest way to get new
clients, but they do come at a financial cost.

When my family is fishing for Chinook Salmon in the pacific ocean, we use
fish-finding sonars to help locate larger schools to increase our chances.

Use the right equipment

Fishing for tuna requires different equipment than fishing for perch. Be prepared for the size of the client you are trying to land. Partners with decades of related experience are required to land a multimillion-dollar company. A clerk or an associate can quickly handle simple wills.

Use the right bait

Once you understand what type of client you are looking for, make use of digital marketing, including social media, content, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing.

You will be more efficient in reaching only those clients who matter to you than if you placed an ad in a newspaper. Sadly, fish don’t always go for the same type of lure all the time. Similarly, you can just set up a campaign and wait for your clients to come to your door.

The nibble vs a bite

Dedicated fishers keep an eye on their fishing lines so they can detect nibbles, which means a fish has approached the lure but hasn’t yet fully committed to eating the bait.

Sometimes there are ways to encourage the fish, but often you have to wait and be ready for the bite. Don’t mistake a nibble for a bite and yank on the line, as you will lose the fish and your potential client.

The more prepared you are for the bite — meaning the fish has been hooked by the lure — the higher your chances of landing that client.

You must be patient when someone shows interest in your firm, and be ready to engage a hot prospect or risk losing the opportunity.

Landing a fish

It is so exciting when you get a big strike. The bite is on! Your instinct is to reel them in as quickly as you can. I learned the hard way that you risk ripping the hook right out of their mouth, and off they go.

Successfully landing a fish is more complicated than that. Timing is
everything. You let the fish take line if they want to swim away but get
ready when their next tactic is to swim towards you. That is when you start
reeling as fast as you can to take up the slack; otherwise, the fish may be
able to dislodge the hook. The larger the fish, the more times you will
repeat this process until the fish finally gets close enough so you can land

Similarly, you will likely be going back and forth with a potential
client until they are satisfied with your offering, or not. You could lose
them to a competitor if they are really hungry or they may just decide they
don’t need any services right now.

Timing is particularly important in the personal injury field. Did you know
your odds of retaining a qualified lead reduce 10 times in the 1st hour and
five times in the first 5 minutes? Make sure you have optimized your intake
process. Potential clients will keep calling firms until they are speaking
to an actual lawyer.

Should you find yourself with a fishing pole in your hand this summer, I
hope you will remember the similarities that this fine pastime can bring to
the future success of your firm.


Pamela Foster is an experienced marketing executive with over 30 years of proven project management performance for some of the largest professional services firms, having worked in local and international markets for KPMG, PwC. Pamela also has B2B and B2C experience working with top-ranked corporate and personal injury law firms. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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