Blueprint for Success – Part 1: Why You Need a Rainmaking Plan

Business man holding an umbrella, money falling from the sky

Welcome to the New Year!

This is a fresh start.  You can decide to plan your success for the year, to become the Rainmaker you have always wanted to be.  But you have to create and execute that plan to achieve this goal.

And, no – hoping, wishing and praying is NOT a rainmaking strategy

Field of Dreams Method of Legal Business Development

Nor is the idea that if you hang out a shingle or build a website, the clients will beat a path to your door.  I call this the “Field of Dreams” method of legal marketing and too many attorneys are engaging in it.   Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come.

In 1927 when my grandfather began practicing law, this was a viable method of marketing and rainmaking.  There were only 131,000 attorneys in the United States.  If you averaged this out, there were only 2,620 lawyers in each state (yes, I know that some states and cities had more attorneys than others, I’m making a point here). You could literally hang a sign outside and people would hire you.

Now, 90 years later, in 2017, this method of marketing and business development is just not going to work.  According to the ABA there are more than 1.3 million attorneys in the country and unless you find a way to let people know what you do, they will never hire you.

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome:

Another business development tactic that many attorneys engage in is the tendency to get distracted by the “latest and greatest” marketing and business development techniques.  I call this the “Bright Shiny Object Syndrome.”

You may be having problems finding and retaining clients so you turn to the internet and do a search on how to get new clients.   You see someone who claims to be a legal marketing guru or Rainmaking expert and you jump in with both feet because they promise new clients will beat a path to your door . . .  of course, this is only if you only pay them a lot of money.

They promise:

  • You can Build a 7 figure firm in 10 days or less, or
  • You can become the number #1 listing on Google search if you purchase our expensive SEO or  ads

These “infomercials” are designed to separate you from your hard earned cash and really won’t bring you the clients you want.

Let’s Throw It Against the Wall and See If It Sticks 

Or maybe you are trying the “let’s throw it against the wall and see if it sticks” method of marketing.

By the way, for those who are not cooks, or have never heard this cliché before, it refers to a method of testing to see if spaghetti was cooked to perfection by throwing a strand against the wall or ceiling to see if it stuck.   If it did, it was the precise level of “al dente.”

So you join every social media site, you may even post on some of them, and you are not getting clients.  So you say Social Medial doesn’t work for getting clients.

Or, you go to a networking event, collect a bunch of business cards, hand out a bunch of business cards and no one calls or refers clients to you.  So you say networking doesn’t work for getting clients.

Or you write blogs that are brilliant (ahem), and you feel like nobody is reading them so you conclude that blogging doesn’t work.

The truth is any marketing you do can be really effective for getting clients as long as you find a way to actually connect with people.

This is because Rainmaking (aka business development) = Relationships.

You have to learn to create relationships with prospective clients, current clients, former clients and referral sources.  We are still a person to person based business.

People Do Business with People They Know, Like and Trust 

You may have heard the oft used expression, “People do business with people they know, like and trust.”  The actual phrase, coined by Bob Burg in his book Endless Referrals, is “All things being equal, people do business with, and refer business to, people they know, like and trust”

What marketing your legal services does is create the “know” portion of that equation.  You have to let the legal buying public “know” who you are and what you can do for them.  This is also known as crafting your brand.  And there are so many methods of marketing – many of which are free or inexpensive (which appeals to the frugal nature in me and in many solo lawyers).  It just requires time.

In fact, by marketing your services in a non-salesy way or by not advertising, you can create authority.  You can become a recognized expert in your chosen area of law.    You can be known as the go-to-person.

The “like” and “trust” part comes when you create a relationship with that prospective client or referral source.

But in order to do this effectively, you must have a plan on who, what, where, when and how you are going to create the “know,” “like” and “trust,” and you must do it consistently.

Why Have a Written Rainmaking Plan?

As Benjamin Franklin has been quoted as saying:

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”

Having a written business development plan forces you to really think about your goals, particularly when you learn (in another post) how to effectively write your goals.

You create your own plans – you aren’t just following what others are doing but trying to find the things that work for your business development activities.  With all of the options out there – the bright shiny objects, the stuff that’s stuck to the wall -  you don’t need to use all of the tactics and techniques for business development. You only need to pick the ones that you are going to use consistently.

When you have your own plan, you become committed to your success.  You have a written document which can grow as your practice grows. Written plans also help to keep you on track – we are bombarded daily with distractions and information that are not helpful to your success.  Having a plan keeps you focused on what you need to get done as well as when you want to get done.

What Should You Include In Your Rainmaking Plan?

The elements of an effective rainmaking plan are not many.  Oh sure, you can find other marketing and rainmaking trainers who will tell you that it requires a lot of steps.  They’ll tell you that you need a mission statement; to create a SWOT analysis (S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats); have a formal budget, and such.  These are great items to include in a firm-wide marketing plan, but unnecessary in your personal rainmaking plan.

In fact, you only need to figure out three things:

  1. Who are your ideal clients? What is your ideal niche?
  2. What are the goals you want to achieve? and
  3. How are you going to achieve these goals?

And there are only three objectives you need to achieve to become a rainmaker:

  1. Become a subject authority in your chosen industry or field,
  2. Let people know what you know,
  3. Create relationships with the right people who can refer business to you or become clients.

Rainmaking and business development is actually rather simple, but it is not easy.  You must commit to doing the activities that are necessary to help you achieve the above objectives.

In part 2 of creating your Rainmaking Plan, we will detail how to determine your ideal clients/niche, how to set effective goals and how to figure out how you are going to achieve these goals – including a new way to think of time management (a phrase I despise by the way, but will explain in the next post).

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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