"I Want to be a Rainmaker"

Rainmaker I just love it when the first thing a 26-year-old associate tells me is, "I want to be a rainmaker." This actually happened at a recent business development training session I just held at a major law firm.

This shows that the kid has ambition. He has the entrepreneurial spirit to not only do the work but to get it too.  He doesn't want to be in the subservient role of having a partner put work on his desk. He wants to take charge of his own destiny and build a business around himself.  He definitely will be a rainmaker.

For a warhorse like me, it's a thrill to see youthful enthusiasm.  I've been at other firms where older lawyers glared at me with their arms and legs crossed, making it clear they were forced to attend the training session.

What makes rainmakers so successful is that they know every influential person in their city or industry.  They have huge networks, so I told the young rainmaker-to-be to start making friends and building his own contact list.  I advised him to copy all the information on the business cards he collects into his Outlook contact list (a step that many lawyers forget).  This way he can make notes as he learns more about his contacts (their likes, favorite activities and family member names), and can search his contacts by city and company.

I advised him not to bring clients in just yet.  If he were to do so, he would only make a bad impression on the partners by showing that he could bring in small accounts.  I told him to wait until his contacts had moved up the corporate ladder, and then ask them for big files.

Shortly I'll email him the Associate Marketing Checklist.

He should join one single trade association of clients, I advised, and show up at every meeting.  He should get to know the board of directors and volunteer to take on a job.  I warned him that the first job would be scut work, but he should take it cheerfully anyway.  The next job would be program director or newsletter director -- his ultimate targets.

Finally, I recommended he make friends with the partners who are rainmakers.  Every time he gets an assignment, he should specifically ask the partner how the work came in.  He should take the rainmakers out for coffee or lunch, and ask them how they get new business.  As he's learning his job, he should learn the job he wants to have.

Then I told the kid he'd get what he wanted. He was a natural.

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Kevin OKeefe - March 5, 2007 10:40 PM

The associate marketing checklist, though very good, is a bit dated considering the online networking opportunities available to associates.

Look at Dennis Crouch and Christine Mingie with their individual blogs and associates participating in firm wide blogs at Stark & Stark and Morris James. They are bringing in work big time in a as a little as a couple years of practice.

These associates know that the blog itself is just the beginning. They are growing networks like they're on steroids with the online networking they are doing.

3, 5, and 10 year plans are okay if one aspires to be no better than those before them. For those who want more, it's a whole new world of online networking.

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