The friendly habits of highly effective rainmakers

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Edward Poll
Dolan Media Newswires

Effective rainmakers find out not only what clients or potential clients need, but also what they want. That requires finding out how clients best receive information and then providing it to them in a way that they find useful.

Successful rainmakers communicate in a way that builds loyalty and collaboration over time by putting the emphasis on the client, not on the lawyer.

Rainmakers take a customer-service approach to dealing with prospects, just like a successful shop or restaurant takes with its customers. They make clients feel like part of the team, seeking out their opinions and asking them what they want to accomplish. Rainmakers never put prospective clients on the defensive. They follow a win-win communications strategy that does not use the style of questioning required when taking a deposition or structuring a contract.

Having been trained to ask questions in a certain way, I often have been told by my wife to stop interrogating her. All I wanted in those instances was to find out some information, but to her I was interrogating and putting her on the defensive.

Lawyers must change that approach when interacting with prospective clients. These client interactions are a conversation between two friends, nothing more. The better that prospects feel when talking to a lawyer, the more positive they are and the more they will seek out the lawyer’s services. Thus, a rainmaker’s key attributes are empathy and rapport, which can be expressed by using a lawyer’s skill to ask a hypothetical business client questions, such as the following:

• What’s the biggest project you have going on now?

• What kind of a year has it been so far?

• Are you concerned about recent product liability litigation trends?

• What do you think would give you the most help in dealing with employees or customers?

• What do you want your organization to look like in one year? Two years? Five years?

• Will you be offering new products or services in the next year?

There is only one way to get that kind of information: face-to-face meetings in person. Social networking on the Internet is effective, but personal contact is the differentiating factor that gets a lawyer noticed.

As for finding prospects, industry trade shows may be the best route. There is no better way to establish effective marketing relationships with prospective clients than by establishing a presence at their trade shows and association meetings.

By properly researching and targeting the right shows, a lawyer can meet more prospects in one day than might otherwise be possible in months. And physically being present at those meetings of potential clients demonstrates a knowledge of their business, an understanding of their concerns, and a seriousness about offering solutions.

Rainmakers use that kind of personal meeting to begin an ongoing process of contact with clients and expand a working relationship outside of the lawyer’s own services. The lawyer doesn’t have to maintain an exhibit booth, just be a presence at the show, mingling with people on the exhibit floor and at the show’s events.

And even if the meeting and greeting doesn’t pay immediate client dividends, you’ll learn about the industry, which will improve not only your personal edification but your chances of making rain in the future.

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Edward Poll is the principal of LawBiz Management.He can be contacted at edpoll@lawbiz.com.

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