A funny thing happens when you charge for your time. Your firm, your market, your competition, and your clients dictate how much an hour of your life is worth. The moment you buy into this notion, you start to make strategic decisions based on this assigned dollar amount.
For the sake of easy math, let's say you charge $500/hr. A business acquaintance asks you to join her for lunch to explore potential synergies. By the time you drive to the restaurant, park your car, eat, pay, and drive back to the office, you have invested over $1000 of billable time. Depending on the degree to which you value networking, your lunch might be difficult to justify, as there will likely be no business result in the short-term.
But this kind of thinking is what often stalls out would-be rainmakers in the formative years of their careers. They do the math and convince themselves that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Better to bill a few more hours than roll the dice on a business development experiment. At $500 or more per hour, you might as well wait for a target-rich, high-yield opportunity like an event attended by business decision-makers (and no competitors). Of course, ideal opportunities such as these are too uncommon to string together meaningfully, and those who "save themselves" for these events lose the opportunity to network broadly.
So, should you be strategic about where you spend your business development time? Absolutely. But don't be too precious about it either. For all you know, that business acquaintance with whom you just had lunch will be the very person responsible for your biggest client in a couple of years when your billable rate is significantly higher. On that day, you will be thankful that you developed a relationship with her back when your time was worth less in dollars, but more in hindsight.
Authored by David Ackert