By the end of January I have over 100 email invitations.
I open the first email: “Hi, it would be great to catch up! Are you free for lunch next week?”
I open the second: “Hi, it’s been a while! I’m passing your office tomorrow – is it okay to pop in? We could get a sandwich!”
I open the third: “Drink on Friday?”
Just over one month into 2018 and I’ve got over a hundred invites to breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks. Some people have a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. Not in-house lawyers. It’s impossible because every lawyer at every firm we use has just the one resolution: “do some business development” Or ‘BD’ as it is affectionately known!
There’s a reason BD sounds like VD. It can only be avoided by medical intervention. Just like school, unless you can show a doctor’s note, there’s no escaping it.
My reply of “I’m sorry, I’ve got lots of meeting that week” is followed by “How about the next week or in fact any day in the next year? You choose!”
So I type “Don’t come to our office. It’s being fumigated. You don’t want to come near it. Termites. And nits. And spiders so big they’re auditioning for Harry Potter.” This leads to “I know a lovely café. Meet you there!”
Not that I don’t like BD. It’s just that when it all happens at once it becomes impossible to remember anything. At dinner at night I’m trying to remember if the hilarious anecdote about the share purchase agreement and the clause about alien invasions on p567 is the second time I’ve told it that day or, gulp, the second time I’ve told it that hour. Like a touring rock band I have to make a note of where I am and who I’m talking to in case I call someone the wrong name!
“Hello, Big City firm, are you ready to rock this dinner” is immediately followed by “Of course, I knew this was a High Street firm meeting for breakfast!”
If BD was spread throughout the year then I would be much happier meeting people. Not that you actually meet anyone when out in BD in January because… the restaurants are empty and so are the bars. Everyone’s at home detoxifying after their Christmas celebrations. It’s just you and your contact – if you’re lucky. If you’re not, you might just be the victim of an ambush lunch or dinner.
An ambush lunch or dinner is when you agree to go out for a pleasant conversation with someone you know well. However, everyone else in the firm has invited themselves along too and suddenly, rather than a one on one conversation, you’re giving a speech to five lawyers from five different departments all waiting to say “I can help you with that!”. Which is keen, and shows persistence, but it’s less a dinner and more a cause of whiplash as you try and keep them all in sight.
However, before this sounds like too much of a grumble, and any lawyers reading this think that they shouldn’t invite their favourite in-house lawyer out, there is one thing that will sweeten any invitation. A little secret to make your firm’s email stand out. Just add those magic words: “Dinner’s on me!”