The secret of rainmaking is there is no secret

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By Ellen Keiley

Lawyers often want to know the secret to business-development success and how rainmakers make their large book of business happen.

The truth is there is no secret. Sure, there is an art and science to business development, but it is a natural and basic process that starts with being genuine. It further requires the ability to communicate your expertise effectively and the skill to build relationships. It also involves being visible, staying focused, engaging in regular marketing activities, and having persistence and patience. All of those factors contribute to a greater success rate.

Be patient and keep up with relationships.

A new relationship does not usually become a referral source or client overnight. That happens from time to time, but often it can take years to convert into new client work.

The more people who know you and trust you, the better. Stay in touch with your contacts. A sheet or system to track clients, contacts and prospects is a good way to stay on top of this.

The most effective relationships are mutually beneficial. If you focus only on what’s in it for you, even inadvertently, people will notice, and the relationship will become weak. If you help others, you will leave a positive, memorable impression.

Get out of your office! Be visible.

If you just stay in your office and don’t get out, that is not going to help you bring in new clients.  It is important to be visible and communicate on a face-to-face basis rather than just electronically.

Getting out of your office to interact with others provides the opportunity to meet new contacts and prospective clients and build the relationship with existing clients, which all can lead to more client work.

Become known for your expertise.

Being known as an expert in your area with a particular niche, both internally in your firm and externally, is going to help you develop more client work.

If you don’t have a specific niche, develop one. You want to be known as the go-to lawyer for specific areas. Really drill down and get very specific. Think about the type of legal work you like doing the most, who you want your clients to be, and what you want to be known for.

Set goals, develop a plan, and focus your efforts.

Set specific, measureable goals for yourself and for your business, and write them down. Then develop an action plan on what you are going to do to achieve those goals, and incorporate that into a marketing and business development plan.

If you keep everything in your head and don’t write things down, you are likely to forget something or someone, and the execution piece will not be as effective.

Determine what you like to do, whether it’s writing articles, speaking, serving on nonprofit boards or attending events, and find opportunities in those areas. Given time limitations, it is most effective to focus your time and energy on things you enjoy doing and are good at and that work for your schedule.

Spend your time networking in the right places, and be open minded.

Choose specific organizations, such as professional associations and nonprofits that you align with, and identify organizations where your target audience is. Get really involved in specific organizations, and attend events and meetings regularly.

Don’t just go to events or get involved in organizations just to get business. A lack of meaningful intentions will bring a lack of results. Be open-minded; you never know what might come out it.

Pay attention to how you portray yourself to others.

Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Being approachable, friendly and positive go a long way, and it’s important to avoid negative talk. People like to be around positive, happy, successful people, so project that persona and you will attract the same type of people your way.

Also, don’t try to be someone you are not. People appreciate being around genuine people.

Review your goals and plans regularly and stay accountable.

Review your goals and plan weekly, and make sure you regularly engage in activity that will help you achieve your goals. Accountability is key.

Keep a journal of your activity to help you stay on track. Even better, work with a business development coach or member of your firm’s business development team to help you stay accountable.

To be successful at business development, you have to put time and energy into business development activities on a regular basis, always focus on building relationships, act with integrity, and be persistent and patient. Every legal rainmaker knows this. Practice the above tips, and you can become a rainmaker, too. It’s true that you get what you give.

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Ellen M. Keiley is president of EMK Consulting Group, which offers business development coaching and consulting, public relations, and training for law firms. She can be contacted at ellenkeiley@emkconsulting group.com.
 

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