It’s summer. People are on vacation, and for those of us who are not, we have either taken advantage of the quiet, or are panicking and wondering “will the phone ever ring again?” The news is not good out there. Markets are crashing. Questions about double-dipping recessions. Riots in the streets. Didn’t we just get through all of this? Wasn’t the economic outlook looking up as of late? Now is not the time to pull the covers up over your head. Now is the time for those who are “panicking” to take advantage of those who are, well, taking advantage of the quiet and might have a calmer perspective and outlook. But where to begin? As Dorothy was shown in the Wizard of Oz, every path has a beginning, and when it comes to legal marketing and business development I like to begin with brainstorming. Brainstorming is great. It’s fun. There are no wrong answers. You get to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. You get to come up with 30 ideas, knowing you’ll only implement one or two. There’s nothing better to pull you out of the morass of what cannot be then thinking about all the things that can be. Brainstorming can entail the hiring of a consultant, and the use of the large conference room for the day. Or it can be on-the-fly with a friend. And everything in between. I had a great brainstorming session with my college roommate yesterday. While back in college our brainstorming was most likely limited to which club we should start our hopping at, yesterday we spent an hour discussing her legal practice, the economy and where she can make an impact for her firm. Husbands, kids and families were a footnote. She now gets to take what she got out of our brainstorming session back to her partners and look really smart. She has ideas. She has a perspective. She has the beginning of a marketing plan. She has some spaghetti. If you’re not sure where to begin, start with a brainstorming session with a friend on the phone, or walk down the hall to a trusted colleague and shut the door. Then go and brainstorm with someone outside your practice area, perhaps a colleague on a different floor. Then brainstorm with your colleagues within your practice. Partners. Associates. The, ahem, marketing liaison for your practice group. Varying opinions count. Outside perspectives are valuable. Write things down. When the right “ideas” come together, you have the beginning of a plan. Put some “to dos” and deadlines next to those ideas, with measurable outcomes, and you have a marketing plan. If nothing else comes out of this, you’ve pulled those covers back and had a peek at what’s going on outside of your realm. And while it might appear scary and uncertain, you now have some actions you can take to control your destiny (until the next holiday break).