This article, which originally appeared in the New Jersey Law Journal December 3, 2009, has been reproduced here. Although almost a year old, the article still resonates today.
The recession that began in 2008 caused mass devastation in the legal field. We watched the annihilation of venerable law firms, like Heller Ehrman, Thelen Reid and Wolf Block. Other law firms decimated their staffs by laying off thousands of attorneys, paralegals and support staff. Small, Mid-size, Large – no law firm was immune to the financial issues and cutbacks that this recession caused. We learned that the profession of law, which was once thought to be recession proof, is not immune to a downturn in the economy.
However, the attorneys who were able to bounce back immediately, or to whom the recession has had little effect are . . . The Rainmakers.
So what can YOU do to become a Rainmaker?
Believe it or not, becoming a Rainmaker is simple; there are only two steps to becoming an effective Rainmaker. First, rainmaking is a function of relationship building; second, rainmaking is a function of great follow up.
Rainmaking can be taught; it is a matter of knowing the various business development tactics that exist, for example, networking events, online strategies, seminars and referrals. Rainmakers understand how to use these tactics to promote themselves, their practice and their firm and develop relationships. (The tactics are beyond the scope of this article, however, each is a method used to create relationships.) Every attorney, regardless of personality can become a Rainmaker in his/her own right.
Thereafter, follow up is crucial. The type and amount of follow up will determine whether prospective clients will actually work with you. In fact, this also applies to current clients as well. The main reason that clients state they leave their attorneys is because of a lack of response by their attorneys.
To be an effective Rainmaker, it is strongly suggested that you have a formal, written and personal Rainmaking plan consisting of the goals you want to achieve, the clients you wish to target and the strategies you are going to execute to do this.
While the steps in Rainmaking are simple, the process is not easy. It takes a commitment on your part to bring clients into your practice on a regular basis and to keep them. Solo practitioners who do not market their services consistently will find that they will be struggling for clients. Mid-size and Large Law firm attorneys who don’t create books of business will find themselves as the people who grind out the work for those who do bring in new business. This is not a position one should desire. You limit the amount of control you have in your law firm: control over the direction your individual career takes, or even control over the fact that you have a job (as we have seen in the recent past).
You can have the most brilliant rainmaking business development plan, designed and written for you by the greatest law firm marketing genius, but if you do not take the action necessary to implement the plan it is a worthless document.
How do you spell Rainmaker? A . . . C . . . T . . . I . . . O . . . N!
A = AM: Wake up earlier. Waking up a half an hour earlier adds three and half hours per week which can be used for rainmaking. Imagine an extra 182 hours per year to connect with former, current and prospective clients by writing a blog, submitting an article, follow-up calls, or attending one more networking event.
C = Cut Out Time Wasting: Determine how much time do you waste during the day? If you are like most people, you are wasting time in a myriad of ways like reading (or deleting) emails you don’t need, chit-chatting ineffectively, and procrastinating on the one thing you could be doing to bring in more clients, or even doing more work for the current clients you have. Then, learn to delegate, delete or downsize the task.
T = To-Do Lists: Write it down and prioritize: Yes, a To-Do list. Include everything! If you don’t write it down, things fall through the cracks and the time it takes to fix the mistakes takes away from Rainmaking activities. Prioritize which activities are going to be the most helpful to you. Cross out the tasks you have accomplished. There is a sense of satisfaction from putting an X next to that item or running a line through it (even electronically). Further, you have the opportunity to see how much you have accomplished.
I = Integrate your entire life: A true Rainmaker makes rain all of the time, even when they are doing things you wouldn’t consider to be “business development” activities. For example, does your Dentist know what you do for a living? He/She could be referring clients to you if they did.
O = Organize your plan: Take 15 minutes on Sunday Evening to plan your week. Start by writing in all of the appointments you have. Then plan the rest of your days in blocks of time. For example: block out time to run errands, to exercise, to have fun with family and friends, a chunk of time to perform one rainmaking activity per day, a chunk of time to work. Realize that you don’t have to schedule yourself minute by minute as this will cause more stress if you exceed the time you thought it would take. By planning in chunks, you can respond to “emergencies” which arise and you can fill in the activities in the blocks with what’s on your to-do list. But treat each “chunk” of time as a true appointment. One that you cannot break. If you have scheduled an hour to write a blog post as your Rainmaking Activity for that day and you finish in half that time then perform another task (following up with a prospective client, for example) or take a quick break.
N = Now, Take ACTION! : Once you have a schedule, keep it! If you find yourself procrastinating for any reason, break the major task into its attendant pieces and perform one of the bite size pieces. There is an old adage: How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time. When you do this, you find that the task get’s accomplished much faster than you realized.
Rainmaking is about creating relationships, which requires ACTION, and following up, which further necessitates ACTION.
How do you spell Rainmaker? A . . . C . . . T . . . I . . . O . . . N.
It’s simple but certainly not easy.
Did you know you can schedule an in-house, customized Rainmaking workshop for your law firm? begin telephone or Skype individual rainmaking training from wherever you are in the world with Jaimie? Call or email for more information.