IF YOU ARE A PARTNER IN A LAW FIRM, or you own your own practice, you cannot afford to ignore the importance of rainmakers. Rainmakers—those lawyers who make it their mission to bring in and close new clients—are practically indispensable.
Over the years, I’ve met, and had the opportunity to work with, some truly gifted rainmakers. One lesson I’ve learned is the best rainmakers aren’t born, they are self-created through a commitment to habitual rainmaking behaviors. Following are the top nine habits of consistently effective rainmakers. If it is your mission to repeatedly attract ideal clients to work with you and your firm, you’ll want to consider adopting these habits.
HABIT #1: Get clear quickly on what they want. Rainmakers understand clarity often follows action. While we can think through many possible scenarios, we will never truly know the outcome of our decisions until after we take action on them. While a certain amount of analysis is smart, overthinking can be costly. Rainmakers learn to analyze options quickly, make decisions, and take action. They are wise enough to know whatever the decision and the consequences, they have the power to make it the right decision for them. Rainmakers don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. Instead, they #dreamdecidedo.
HABIT #2: Act despite their fears of imperfection. One of the biggest issues stopping would-be rainmakers is their obsession with perfection. In conversation after conversation, they say “I can’t because it (whatever “it” is) isn’t ready yet.” Successful rainmakers know time is of the essence, and perfection is a myth. Good and done beats perfect and invisible all day, every day. Always show up, ready to play.
HABIT #3: Focus on what they wish to create instead of what they may ‘lack.’ Rainmakers always focus on what could happen if things go right, not what could happen if they go wrong. This is a real issue for non-rainmaking attorneys, because the very essence of being an attorney is imagining all the possible negative outcomes of any given circumstance. If you want to be a successful rainmaker, though, you mustn’t let yourself get stuck focusing on all you “lack,” whether you perceive that to be time, money, permission, skills or something else. To help them overcome the fear of “lack,” rainmakers focus with such intensity on what they desire to create, they virtually will it into being.
HABIT #4: Take responsibility for making their goals a reality. If you wish to create a thriving, sustainable practice—in particular, to grow your own law firm—ultimately, you must accept that you are a business owner as much as you are a lawyer. No longer can you get away with crying “I went to law school to be a lawyer, not a marketer!” The minute you hung your shingle or became a partner in a firm, you accepted the responsibility of cultivating clients and making bank. Rainmakers know: “If we all want to eat, someone’s got to slay the dragon.” And they step to the challenge with vigor and enthusiasm.
HABIT #5: Prioritize effectively. Attorneys are always busy. It’s the nature of our profession. The difference between successful rainmakers and other attorneys is rainmakers know bringing new clients into the firm is every bit as important as servicing clients. Without clients, we would not have matters on which to work. As such, rainmakers schedule time every day, or at least every week, to work on their practice, not just in their practice. Networking is not something they have to do. It is a priority and a commitment they embrace.
HABIT #6: Invest in learning new skills. It’s not enough for rainmakers to be good at their jobs as lawyers. They know they also need to master the skills required to bring in new business. Whether that is networking, sales conversations, building referral networks, understanding social media marketing or any of the other myriad skills required to be a good marketer and closer, rainmakers invest the time and money to learn them. Why? Because they know these are not expenses. These are investments designed to pay off in a big way over time.
HABIT #7: Embrace risk as a necessary requirement of reward. Rainmakers make a habit of taking risks because they know the greater the risk, the greater the reward. Want to know their secret for risk tolerance? They take risks over and over again—sometimes small ones, and sometimes significant ones in which the stakes are very high. And they continue to take risks even in the face of failure.
HABIT #8: Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Failure is a fact of life. Risking failure, putting yourself out there, sharing a point of view that may not be popular—all of these experiences can feel uncomfortable. Rainmakers know that discomfort is not the worst things that can happen. The worst thing that can happen is they do not bring in a sufficient number of clients to sustain and grow their law practices so they can honor commitments to their families, and their employees and their families. When other people depend on you to perform, the excuse of “discomfort” no longer feels significant.
HABIT #9: Willingly ask for and receive help. Rainmakers know they cannot do everything and do it well. There are, after all, only so many hours in the day. Instead, they do what they do best, and request help with the rest. They learn to cultivate effective teams and to delegate. They release the arrogance of “if I want it done right, I will just have to do it myself.” Rainmakers develop the skills they need to lead, train and manage others to do what needs to be done in a way that serves the firm’s goals.