Naturally, business development is a function of the strategic actions you take and the measurable results you yield, right? Well, yes and no.
It's true that in my many years as an advisor in this discipline, I see most people apply far too little strategy and measure far too few of their results. But sometimes it's less scientific than all that. Sometimes you just have to trust your gut, use the force, and listen to your intuition.
Think of your professional network as an example. Certainly, you should identify a profile for an effective referral source to your practice. Perhaps most of your referrals come from middle-market CPAs or M&A lawyers, so you make a point to seek out such people, build relationships with them, and add value to their practices in the hopes that they will do the same. This strategy makes good business sense and will be more productive than simply indulging in random acts of lunch.
But then there's that outlier. Perhaps she's a financial advisor who regularly sends you meaningful opportunities. You haven't been able to replicate her profile in your network, but for whatever reason, she ranks up there with your most productive relationships. Or maybe it's a small client whose real value is the larger clients he refers to you. These fortunate exceptions are impossible to reverse-engineer. They are usually a function of the right chemistry and good timing between two people who genuinely like and want to help each other. And they only materialize when both parties invest in the relationship.
So the next time you come across someone who, at least on paper, seems like an unlikely referral source, do a gut check before you write them off as a potential business ally. If you really like them and feel that there is a genuine personal synergy, give the professional dynamic a chance to mature. You may find that it takes a few extra conversations to get there, but the results can often prove to be very worthwhile. By the same token, pay attention when your instincts tell you that you're wasting your energy on a red herring.
As in all arenas of life, your gut should play a meaningful role in your business development choices. After all, most of our missteps are a function of failing to trust our gut, not the other way around.