One of the keys to being a successful rainmaker is making a habit of consistent client development activity. I recommend that lawyer doing something designed to increase business every single day, whether it’s writing a 2-minute email, hosting an hour-long lunch, or attending an all-day industry meeting.
I’m launching a new blog feature this week: the Weekly Rainmaker Activity. Each Monday, I’ll offer a business development task. Those who choose to accept that challenge will make the time to engage in the activity of the week at least once. If you’re so moved, please post a comment (anonymous is fine, of course) to let me and the other readers know what you’ve done this week. Healthy competition of this sort can benefit everyone.
So, this week’s task: talk with a current client about the economy’s effect on his/her business. (It should go without saying, but for the sake of clarity: this is an “off the meter” conversation.)
Why is this a good activity? For better or worse, that’s the chief topic for many people right now — is your business suffering? If so, how are you handling it? If not, what’s setting you apart from those who are suffering? How do you see the next weeks and months playing out? What do you need to make it through this rough period? Since everyone is thinking about it, we may as well talk about it, especially if there’s a chance that you could offer some sort of assistance. Even if you can’t, your client (and you) will likely benefit from the conversation.
How to undertake this activity? Choose a client. (If you’re a junior lawyer without much client contact, choose an internal client — one of the partners or more senior lawyers who gives you assignments.) If you’re talking with him or her anyway, just fold the inquiry into your conversation, perhaps piggybacking on recent news or on a legal discussion about the business. Or place a call to your client “just to touch base” and raise the topic that way.
How long will it take? That’s entirely up to you and your client. I’d say 5-10 minutes is long enough to allow for a meaningful discussion without going into too much depth.
What will it do for me? It will deepen your relationship without your client. It offers the client the opportunity to be heard about something that’s likely at the top of his or her mind anyway, and it could offer a chance for you to give useful advice.