Rainmaking: Building Great Relationships
Of significant importance to a lawyer's progress in the legal profession is their ability to develop business or be known as a rainmaker.
What is a Rainmaker?
A rainmaker is a lawyer who, through wide contacts in the community, generates a great deal of business for themselves and their law firm.
They generate referrals and work from their contacts by the relationships they build with their contacts.
Why be a Rainmaker?
Rainmakers can achieve independence as a result of managing their own client base. They can:
- Have the practice they want
- Practice how they like
- Go where they want, and
- Increase their influence in their firm.
The following is taken from "The Last Frontier: Women Lawyers As Rainmakers
- Qualities of a successful Rainmaker:
- Maintain an aura of competence
- Have high positive name recognition
- Must understand the client's world
- Be loyal to the firm and the client
- Perform first class work
- Talents of a Rainmaker:
- Service oriented
- Able to communicate effectively
- Sensitive to business environment
- Seen as a player
- Support other women.
Create and Build Relationships to Develop Business
Referrals, networking, making contacts, word of mouth - all are ways to market yourself and your firm. They help you establish the initial contact. True rainmaking or business development comes from the relationship you build after the initial contact.
Ongoing communication is critical to relationship-building. The keys are to:
- Deliver messages that cause others to remember you when they or someone they know have a need for your services.
- Talk with people about what you do.
- Listen to find out what others do and how you might serve them.
Develop Your Relationship with Current Clients
The #1 way to build your law practice is to develop the relationships you currently have. At the same time, develop your relationships with past clients and those people who refer clients to you.
You can expand and cement your existing and past relationships with clients by:
- Knowing your client's business.
- Sending information to your clients that is helpful for their business.
- Contacting clients by phone to see what challenges they are facing.
- Visiting clients at their place of business.
- Making referrals to their businesses.
- Maintaining ongoing contact with your clients.
- Maintaining good working relations with your clients.
- Providing outstanding legal services.
As well as
- Keeping clients informed of your own business developments.
- Letting clients know what other matters your firm handles.
- Asking them what they need from you in order for them to make referrals and give you more business.
Some ways to maintain good working relations with your clients:
- Communicate without legalese with your client.
- Generally be available.
- Return all client calls promptly.
- Be sincere.
- Listen to your clients.
- Be truthful and maintain high standards of integrity.
- Be committed to the speedy resolution of your client's problem.
- Clearly define goals and objectives with your client.
- Establish rapport with your client.
- Know your client's business.
- Acknowledge your client.
- Keep your client informed. When your client hears nothing they assume their lawyer is doing nothing.
- Ask for and get feedback from clients.
Develop Your Relationship with Other Lawyers
Other lawyers such as these are a great source of referral business:
- Other lawyers in your firm
- In the office or building where you work
- Your competitors, and
- In your community.
Ways to develop and maintain relationships with other lawyers:
- Make referrals to them - generate cross referrals.
- Keep them informed of changes to your practice including the nature of your work.
- Let them know what you like about your practice.
- Find out what is going on in their practice.
- Treat them as potential clients.
- Maintain an equally high standard of quality legal work for clients referred to you by other lawyers so they look good.
- Request they refer work to you they don't handle.
- Ask for conflict work.
Direct Contact, Networking, and Referral Building
- Potential Targets or Contacts
The following are types of people you should consider as targets:
- Past and current clients
- Other lawyers
- Advocates - leaders that can open doors for you
- Referral partners - What groups or people would refer work to you?
- Competitors -Offer to do over load or conflict work for your competitors.
- Corporate Counsel
- Other professionals (accountants, bankers, financial planners, etc.)
- People in your civic, social, and academic groups
- Family members
- People from your past - old friends
- Meet and Maintain Communication with Contacts
The following are ways to meet and maintain communication with your contacts:
- Request that a referral source make an introduction (to their accountant, banker, advisors)
- Send mail - personal letters, announcement letters, nice to meet you notes
- Make warm calls (Call or arrange to meet someone you already know but have not received work from.)
- Serve on committees that interest you
- Serve on boards that interest you
- Serve as a volunteer for groups in which you are interested
- Become a sponsor of a group or organization
- Have an open house in your firm
- Be an active member of the Washington State Bar Association
- Participate in industry associations
- Enroll in business groups
- Attend meetings and participate in community affairs
- Get involved with charitable organizations
- Join a chamber of commerce
- Become an active member of Rotary, Kiwanis or like minded group
- Take advantage of your involvement with your religious or spiritual organization
- Actions To Deepen The Relationship
Once you have created a relationship with a potential client or referral source it is important to develop and maintain the relationship. The following are actions you can take to deepen the relationship:
- Have lunch or coffee meetings
- Visit them in their office
- Find ways to get to know their business
- Send newspaper clippings or information that would interest them
- Send invitations to meetings or seminars
- Send newsletters
- Inform contacts of changes in the law that might effect them
- Send notes acknowledging their accomplishments
- Make referrals to your contacts
- Volunteer at your contact's events.
- Send thank you and other cards
- Engage in entertainment activities like golf, dinner, sport events, theatre, or something in the neighborhood with your contacts
- Serve on your contact's committees
- Actions to Maintain At All Times
It is important that you consistently perform marketing activities. Consider taking some daily, weekly and monthly actions.
- Attend networking functions regularly
- Contact people in your network regularly
- Consciously be open to meeting new people
- Make a point of following up with new target contacts
- Be curious about how you can help people in their business
- Carry your business cards with you at all times.
- Get business cards from appropriate target contacts
- Maintain a contact data base.
- Further Ways to Build Visibility and Credibility
The more times people see your name or you, the more likely they will remember you when it comes time for them to hire an attorney. The following are ways to increase visibility and credibility:
- Public Speaking
- By speaking, writing, and receiving publicity, you are positioning yourself as a leader in your area of law.
- Ethical Considerations
A good resource for determining ethical considerations in setting up your marketing plan is Marketing and Legal Ethics: The Boundaries of Promoting Legal Services by William E. Hornsby, Jr.
- Networking Limitations
Don't let fear stop you by being willing to:
- Be rejected.
- Take risks.
- Learn from what works and what does not work.
- Limiting Beliefs:
Determine and then let go of negative assumptions around marketing.
How do you have the time to develop business especially as a woman?
- Be committed to business development.
- Integrate your personal life with your business life.
- Work less to generate more.
- Decide what you will say no to in order to say yes to marketing activities.
What Will You Do?
Choose three marketing activities and then do them consistently. That means, even when you get busy because your marketing efforts starts to work, you continue to do those things so your pipeline stays full.
Structures to Keep Moving Forward With Your Business Development:
- Visualize your results
- Believe in yourself
- Work with a buddy (Work with a co-worker or friend to create accountability and motivation in reaching your goals.)
- Work with a professional like a coach (Use the professional's expertise to help you see what might be holding you back.)
- Maintain discipline (Just do it!)
- Use your calendar (Block out time for marketing activities.)
Bibliography, Resources and Suggested Readings
Ramo, Ro, The Last Frontier: Women Lawyers As Rainmakers, American Bar Association 1993
Keeva, Steven, Transforming Practices: Finding Joy and Satisfaction in the Legal Life Contemporary Books, 1999.
Hornsby, William E. Marketing and Legal Ethics: The Boundaries of Promoting Legal Services. Law Practice Management Section American Bar Association, Third Edition, 2000.
Snyder, Theda, Women Rainmakers' 101 Plus Best Marketing Tips, 2nd Edition, American Bar Association Section of Law Practice Management, 1994.
Hayden, C.J., Get Clients Now!: A 28-day Marketing Program for Professionals and Consultants. Amazon, 1999.
Edwards, Paul & Sarah, Getting Business to Come to You: Everything You Need to Know to Do Your Own Advertising, Public Relations, Direct Mail, and Sales Promotion, and Attract All the Business You Can Handle G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1991.
Beckwith, Harry, Selling The Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing. Warner Books, 1997.
Durham, James, editor, The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Law Practice, The American Bar Association, 1999.
Roane, Susan, "How to Work a Room: Learn the Strategies of Savvy Socializing - For Business and Personal Success", Warner Books, 1988.
Glickstein, Lee, "Be Heard Now!: Tap Into Your Inner Speaker and Communicate With Ease". Broadway Books, 1998.
Jeffers, Susan, "Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway", Ballantine Books, 1987.