You Can Be A Rainmaker and Still Have Work Life Balance

Yuliya

(Yuliya LaRoe and Marla Grant talking to women lawyers on how to develop business)

It used to be that "rainmaker" was a term exclusive to men. It was used mostly for men who spent lots of time on the golf course or dining at lunch clubs with big wigs whose business they were trying to land.

Today, rainmakers are male or female. They are anyone who is able to bring in new business. Honing this skill makes you valuable as an employee, manager or owner. While some might think of rainmaking as a time consuming task, it can be part of your daily activities. The key is knowing how to ask for business and where to look for it.

If you're a parent, start with your kids. 

When Paul Ranis got a call from the owner of a large Canadian company asking to retain him for its legal employment work, Ranis asked an obvious question: “How did you find me?” The man replied with the name of the person who referred him. After a few minutes, it clicked. “Oh, that’s A.J’s dad,” Ranis responded.

When Ranis is attending his daughter’s soccer matches or his son’s math competition, he extends a handshake to other parents and builds the kind of relationships that often lead to new business. “The opportunity for business development is much greater than through a typical meet-and-greet where you will see 50 attorneys and everyone is handing out their business cards,” Ranis says.

Next mine your contacts.

Look at your Rolodex and peruse your LinkedIn. Who might you want to reconnect with? Who can refer you business? Think about former co-workers, classmates, neighbors, friends, people in your book club or poker group who would want what you offer, says Marla Grant, a South Florida business coach.  “A lot of us are sitting on a gold mine, and we don’t even realize it.”

 
Send an email. 
 
Business development can happen from the comfort of your desk with a quick email. “It’s about reminding people what you do and saying something like, ‘If you have these issues, call me, I can help you with that,’” Grant says. Having built a giant contact list, Sallie Krawcheck, owner of  owner of the women’s networking community Ellevate, will send out “Hi, how are you?” emails, and other times she will take it a step further and ask for business. In fact, Krawcheck finds it easier to ask for business by email than face-to-face: “I feel bolder.” However, the email always reflects what she can do for the other person: “It has always got to be about them.”

 
Join groups.
 
Years ago, men bonded and formed inner circles at country clubs or lunch clubs. Today, there are all kinds of professional organizations, advocacy groups, church groups and even fitness clubs where people are introducing each other to prospects who can throw business their way. The important step is move the personal relationship into a professional relationship and get comfortable with asking for business.
 

Use your hobbies.

Successful rainmakers are passionate about multiple and diverse interests and use those passions as way to connect with people and drum up business. Miami banker invites his clients to concerts with him, using it as an opportunity to deepen relationships and see his favorite bands. “The key with rainmaking is to incorporate it into your life rather than letting it take over,” he says.

Make speeches.
 
Speech-making can be an important part of rainmaking. It allows you to get in front of larger crowds of potential clients and position yourself as someone they would want to hire.

 

Use meal time effectively.
 
The people who are most successful at business development do not commit “random acts of lunch,” says Sara Holtz, founder of ClientFocus, a coaching company that helps lawyers become rainmakers. By that, she means inviting prospects to lunch without knowing much about why they would need what you offer. She says more effective rainmakers take existing customers to lunch and get them talking about their needs. They then let them know how they can address those needs.

Rainmaking is not as difficult as some people think. Yet, lots of people go about it wrong. They oversell, over-promise or convince themselves they aren't good at it without even trying. What do you find difficult about rainmaking? Have you tried any of these approaches?

 
 

The Work/Life Balancing Act

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