As the leader of our Rainmaker Development Program® (RDP), I witness a variety of challenges that others face in meeting their business development (BD) goals. It’s no surprise that the most common challenge we hear is the feeling that people don’t have time. With so much on our plates, it can be difficult to form new habits and build new skills. However, in the words of Jim Rohn and one of our favorite quotes, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
If you really want to improve in business development, then it’s imperative you create a strategy for the activities you’ll pursue. Given that “time” is one of the biggest barriers to achieving BD goals, it’s also crucial that your strategy includes consideration for how you’ll shift your efforts to make room during peak periods. Too often, we see new rainmakers motivated by the actions they are taking and the relationships they’re forming, only to have their motivation – and their results – stall during the emergence of busy season.
One reason time becomes a barrier to BD is that many people believe BD requires a lot of “face time” – in-person networking events, lunch, coffee or other meetings with clients, prospects and referral sources, or attending industry-focused conferences, among others. As the participants in our RDP soon learn, there are many ways to develop business and only some of them require a physical presence. Let’s explore the three most important BD strategies for maintaining your rainmaking focus during peak periods:
- Strategize your in-person commitments. Whether it’s busy season or not, it’s important to identify how much time you can devote to in-person activities. Then, you should focus on being strategic and intentional about only spending your time at events or meetings that are most likely to connect you with the types of clients you hope to serve. When it comes to peak periods, narrow your in-person commitments further to only those that bring you the best results, or that would suffer if you took a break. Be cognizant of commitments that may require your involvement year-round – like a treasurer or board position. If you won’t be able to meaningfully contribute during certain times of the year, you may want to commit to other activities.
- Go deeper with clients. You’re already actively engaging with your clients during peak periods – take those opportunities to learn more about them and to uncover ways to provide more value. Our RDP participants learn to use our Client Account Planning Tool to go deeper with existing clients. It guides the user through a brainstorming session for a specific client and typically results in a long list of insights and ways to add value to the client. Try choosing just a few of your top clients and before you meet with them, sit down and do some thinking around their business challenges and opportunities, the things your firm has helped them with and could help them with in the future, the connections to other professionals that might benefit them, and anything else that arises. When you meet with your client to discuss the work you’re engaged to do, share any new insights you gained to strengthen your relationship and show them that you care. Doing so will increase the probability of retaining that client in future years and could also lead to new service opportunities for your firm. Keep in mind - it takes more time to source a new client then it does to provide excellent client service and retain an existing one.
- Leverage digital tools for keeping in touch with others. You likely have 15 minutes of empty time somewhere in your day. It could be sitting on the train or bus during your commute, waiting to pick up your child from school or an activity, or it could replace a less important activity, like watching TV you don’t really care about. Take this 15-minute block and do some focused VIRTUAL rainmaking work. Here are three suggested uses of this NEW time:
- Scroll through your LinkedIn newsfeed and interact with your contacts. Like what they’re sharing (only if you genuinely do) and leave a comment when you can. People like to interact with others in social media and the more your name shows up in their newsfeeds, the more top of mind you are to them. Plus, you’re bound to learn some things about your contacts that help you know them better and may provide an opportunity to touch base by email or phone (i.e. “John, I saw on LinkedIn that your organization was honored with [insert name] award – congratulations!”). Share posts that would benefit your connections.
- Read relevant industry articles that may help your service approach during this peak period and/or can be shared on LinkedIn or emailed for others gain value.
- If you’ve set up your top clients’ and prospects’ organizations in Google Alerts, which we highly recommend you do, you can also check out your recent updates during this time and complete any follow up necessary.
Don’t let busy season become your excuse to lose sight of your rainmaking goals. Use these three strategies to maintain your momentum during busy times, so that when you emerge from a peak period, you’re ready to tackle bigger and better rainmaking activities and you may have some new client work to propose on as well!
If you or someone in your firm is interested in sharpening your business development skills, consider enrolling in our Rainmaker Development Program® (RDP). We’ll help you identify the mix of personal marketing and business development activities that work uniquely for YOU, and we’d love to have you join us.