Harold was a former SCORE colleague of mine. His background in education, technology, business, sales, marketing, and economics makes his perspective unique. Harold is what I call a connector. The following post is the sum of a four post series published by Harold on his blog in August of 2018 and is chock full of valuable advice.
Part 1 – Introduction
Many professionals believe they must operate out of their comfort zone in order to become a rainmaker, that generates new business. The truth is, the more loyal you are to your personality (wiring) the more effective your rainmaking efforts will be.
As I have connected with successful rainmakers over the years, I would ask them to let me in on their secrets. It was very clear that they struggled to articulate or even know how to define the reasons for their success. Another interesting discovery was that most of these individuals did not consider themselves extroverts. Nor did they see themselves having special experience, skills, or intellect.
As I continued to be impressed with their success, I was also fascinated that they did not consider their efforts to be work. It was so automatic and natural that one person shared that he could not believe he was paid to do this.
As individuals, we become slaves to our own habits. Therefore, it makes sense that rainmakers establish habits that work within their wiring and their marketplace! There is an old saying that goes like this: “Practice makes perfect.” Actually, I believe that “practice makes habit.” Practicing the right rainmaking habits that suit our wiring, positively impacts results.
A pillar of rainmaking is the concept of bringing people together for their benefit. Your preparation only requires a professional introduction of two parties and asking questions that will cultivate their relationship. This is the most “natural” form of expanding your network.
Going into any situation thinking, “who can I help?”, rather than “who can help me?” puts you into a giving rather than a taking mindset. Most professionals see their comfort level skyrocket with this approach.
Now through the explosion of social media, rainmaking for professional services is in the fast lane. So how should we conduct ourselves and leverage a process that fits our wiring to maximize the global reach available to us?
Part 2 – Connect People In Your Network
Is Rainmaking an art form that some people have and others do not? We all can be rainmakers if we can identify those activities that fit our personality and build it into a process that becomes so automatic it looks like an art form to those around us.
Because we cannot operate for long periods of time outside of our wiring, I would like to share activities that make rain, so you can discover strategies that work for you. For me, they evolved over many years and did not become an overnight success.
My Rainmaking tool: I make introductions that connect people.
On the surface, this appears simple, but the skills associated with making professional introductions also require you to know the individuals at a very personal level. This led me to develop the type of questions that move conversations beyond the superficial.
The Result: Leading with my agenda of connecting people, I have gained and will continue to gain access to talented people, community, and potential clients.
The world is a complex network of relationships and responsibilities. And if you want to be invited in, there are expectations and obligations associated with those responsibilities.
First, take inventory of our business relationships. The list might be short and humbling if you are just getting started, and after asking three simple questions, you may find your existing business relationships need some work.
- Are you aware of their personal journey, what they have overcome or achieved, and their current challenges?
- Are you on their short-list of people to call in a crisis?
- Would they introduce you to their best friend for their best friends benefit?
Successful rainmakers understand their contact’s world, which enables them to interact in a meaningful and influential way.
Some relationships will never go beyond the superficial or be able to reciprocate. However, the short list that does will become a foundation of your rainmaking process. The unique thing about it is, in today’s virtual world you might never meet these relationships face-to-face.
So, the faster you can build transparency and confidence with a relationship, the more you will be drawn to their world. For me, it starts by initiating conversations with a simple set of questions that move our relationship toward a transparent and confidential environment.
Part 3 – Know Their Journey
My 2nd Rainmaking tool: I build genuine transparency with relationships.
I never did well in history classes that focused on names, dates, and events. However, if the discussion laid the foundation with economic, political, or social forces that propelled those events, I was captivated. It is the same way with relationships. If I know your journey, what you or your business has overcome, the dangers and opportunities that are looming, it becomes the foundation for all our interaction.
A speaker from a long time ago proposed that everyone is defined by significant emotional events in their life. Most of us can remember those events like they were yesterday and although some of them will remain very private, while other events, when shared, can generate the interaction that propels transparency.
This brings us to the practical application of asking questions that can lead to a conversation of significance. There are many approaches, however for me, I have asked the following question thousands of times:
“You’ve come a long way, could you tell me about your journey?”
This type of question is respectful, and the ensuing conversation provides a vision of how you can support them, and whom they might be able to serve. Relationships of trust are galvanized when circumstances require urgency. I call these “Moments of Truth.” If we roll up our sleeves and serve them in a time of need, we are creating an atmosphere that may initiate a lasting relationship and ultimately an ambassador. Nurturing an ambassador relationship will also require mutual respect of each other’s professional journey and an open exchange of insights and counsel.
So be alert, as “Moments of Truth” do not present themselves often, and their value should not be measured by their immediate financial benefit. These types of interactions build a collaborative ownership of each other’s success.
Ultimately, true ambassadors will continuously endorse you to their community for their community’s benefit, and become your ultimate networking partner.
Part 4 – Make It A Habit
If you want to improve your rainmaking results, you need to intentionally start by changing your rainmaking habits.
Most of us have watched the calendar year turn over and we find ourselves repeating the same experiences over-and-over. It is very easy to become entrapped by the gravity of “status quo”, and although many of us strive to build routines within our lives, we grow during periods of change.
As we look back over our journey’s we can identify significant emotional events that have influenced how we conduct ourselves. They were not all comfortable, however many initiated positive change. Granted, external forces cause most transitions, such as an appraisal, a confrontation, or a setback, which begs the question; must we experience tough times to refine ourselves?
Here are some alternatives that can stimulate change, and how we can apply them to the topic of rainmaking:
- consistently interact with thought leaders
- build a trusted community of advisors
- request feedback that will refine, not just reward your performance
Now, alongside our community of supporters, let’s discuss re-tooling our rainmaking habits within an effective process that aligns with our wiring and work environment.
We all struggle with balancing our time between running a business, serving clients, and our personal lives. However, a consistent investment in a process of business development is the engine that ensures the future.
Converting your rainmaking habits into a process starts by isolating and dedicating time each week where I focus on activities that become the catalyst for business development.
Everyone’s rainmaking process will be different, but if I am honest with myself, I know what contributes to my business development, versus what is comfortable yet accomplishes nothing. So, with a mindset of service, I address the following fundamental activities every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon of every week:
- drive one existing relationship deeper
- make five introductions for current contacts
- reach out to five new contacts
- contribute to your professional communities
Throughout the week, I look for opportunities to deepen relationships, make introductions, meet new people, and contribute. These activities are not independent silos, as they integrate with each other to create rainmaking momentum. Random acts typically do not translate into opportunities, however, by concentrating on a core strategy you will experience a wave of visibility and curiosity that did not originate from a single conversation. When this happens, and it will, you must be prepared to present your value in a precise and passionate way.
Accumulate a rainmaking backlog of to-do’s that you can act upon within the time isolated for these activities. Stay alert for opportunities within your community where your capabilities, along with a sincere mindset of service will shape lasting relationships.
This is not a sprint, it is a lifestyle.
Related Post: 16 POWERFUL PRINCIPLES TO INFLUENCE A SALE From “Rainmaking Conversations”
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