To make it rain, get into the habit -- 5 of them

A successful rainmaker must get out of the comfort zone. Lawyers who embrace new routines and adopt five key marketing habits will see a significant yield from their efforts. Practice these habits until they become second nature; your continued success requires that you commit to implementing them every week.

1) Three is the magic number

In the early days of Atticus, we studied successful rainmakers and discovered that they averaged three contacts with referral sources per week, while those who struggled to bring in new business averaged only one - on a good week.

The successful rainmaker's efforts might involve lunch, might occur at the courthouse, or might take place at a local bar association event, but every contact involved at least 20 minutes of cultivating relationships and building rapport with existing or potential referral sources.

Take advantage of serendipitous meetings, but plan ahead and block time in your calendar to consistently market yourself three times a week. The results are worth the effort: three contacts x 50 weeks = 150 marketing contacts annually. If 150 contacts with good referral sources don't generate business, nothing will. Habit No. 1 is by far the most important of the five.

2) Ask and you shall receive

At the conclusion of each matter, tell your client: "My practice has been built on referrals from people like you. If anyone you know needs my services, I'd appreciate it if you'd mention my name."

You don't have to use those exact words, but you get the idea: Don't assume that clients automatically think of referring others to you; it may never occur to them unless you ask them politely and professionally. There is a direct correlation between the number of times you ask for referrals - and the directness of the requests - to the number of referrals you receive.

3) "Sharpen the saw"

Made famous by Stephen Covey, the phrase "sharpening the saw" means to seek constant improvement in the quest for excellence. We believe you must develop a marketer's mindset. Read a marketing book or articles on marketing every month, supplemented by a marketing workshop whenever you have the chance.

Your discomfort with marketing may come from a lack of training; it's hard to practice what you don't understand. The truth is that you already have many of the skills you need to be successful at relationship-based marketing, but you don't realize it. You just need to learn how to apply those skills intentionally and strategically. So "sharpen your saw" by educating yourself about marketing at every opportunity.

4) Thank you kindly - and quickly

Make a habit of thanking referral sources every time they send you a client, regardless of whether the client hires you. Send a handwritten note, pick up the phone, or take the referral source to lunch when they make an effort to send a client your way. And always reward the behavior as promptly as you can, so that the referral source will think of you the next time they have business to send. This represents "top of mind awareness" and is vital to developing a healthy, growing referral network.

5) The name game

Some referral sources are better than others, and they deserve the bulk of your attention. But stuff happens. Some will move away and others will change careers, retire or just stop sending you business for no apparent reason. It pays to keep meeting new people to continually add new streams of names and referrals.

For example, one attorney we know attends bar functions with the goal of always meeting three new attorneys who don't practice her area of law. Before the event starts, she socializes with everyone she knows, but then she starts marketing by sitting at a table where there's no one she knows. The opportunities to meet new people who are well-positioned to send good clients are all around you, but you have to be looking for them to notice.

Growing your practice requires that you market yourself, and your willingness to push beyond your comfort zone drives the growth of your practice. Remember, marketing is one of those things you learn by doing. All it takes is a willingness to view your practice as a client-centered, service-driven business - and a few new habits.


Michael Hammond, a founder of Atticus, is a certified practice advisor with extensive experience in lawyer marketing, one-on-one business coaching, and strategic planning. Mark Powers is the president of Atticus and co-author of "How Good Attorneys Become Great Rainmakers" and "Time Management for Attorneys." He can be contacted at

Published: Mon, Jun 13, 2016


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