If you’ve been reading the Maraia Minutes for any length of time, you probably have a good idea of what it takes to be a rainmaker: focus on deepening relationships and prioritize business development in your daily work. In a perfect world, you’re practicing the Maraia Method© and achieving rainmaking success because you do all of the right things, all of the time: you have a plan for business development, you’ve established metrics that you regularly measure your rainmaking activities against and you have a well-oiled system that makes it easy to stay on top of it all.
But who lives in a perfect world?
We recently got excited by the concepts in James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. What if you didn’t have to do all the right things, all the time to see results from your rainmaking efforts? What if being just a little bit better today than you were yesterday was enough? What if something as simple as a 1% shift was all it took to create meaningful change in your approach to business development? Fortunately for those of us toiling away in this perfectly imperfect world, a mere 1% improvement in your efforts each day is actually the easiest, most sustainable way to accumulate long term gains in your rainmaking game.
To appreciate why a 1% change can be so meaningful, consider this truth: we do not rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems. The difference between a goal and a system comes down to habits. That is, a goal is the destination, but the system you put into place are the habits that will get you there. Applying this to the Maraia Method©, a rainmaking goal might be to increase your revenue by 15% this year and the system you use to achieve that is whatever combination of business development activities (the habits!) you commit to doing consistently that will that ensure you do something every day to advance that goal. One way to think of this is to imagine you’re driving down the highway, hoping to get to your destination. Just the smallest shift in the angle of your tires means the difference between staying on the road and driving off into the ditch. In order to make sure that doesn’t happen, you regularly scan the road in front of you, adjust the steering wheel, and check your mirrors. Occasionally you refer back to your map to make sure you’re staying on course. The goal is arriving at your destination and the system that ensures you get there is the combination of scanning, adjusting and checking that keeps you on course. Sure, just coasting along without paying attention and recovering with a hard turn here and there might keep you on the road, but it could just as easily cause you to wreck. Regular small adjustments to your driving, however, keep you on course and are done so often during the drive that they become second nature—in fact, eventually you might find yourself arriving at your destination without even realizing the effort it took you to get there. That is the ultimate payoff of good systems: they become effortless because the habits are ingrained. The same is true of rainmaking.
Habits are the key to successful rainmaking.
A good rainmaker has a habit of regular actions that develop and deepen relationships. Activities such as checking in with former clients, asking current clients for feedback, preparing for every meeting to ensure you understand your client’s needs, calendaring callbacks and follow up with helpful notes to convey that you took the time to remember your client’s unique situation, and spending a minimum amount of time every week devoted to business development will deepen your professional relationships. The challenge for aspiring rainmakers is creating a set of habits to ensure that you, too, are regularly taking actions that develop and deepen relationships.
This is where the 1% shift comes in.
Being a rainmaker is about staying the course and cultivating meaningful professional relationships over the long term with regular, small actions that ensure you are consistently connecting with the people in your network. The easiest route to taking these regular steps is embracing business development as a way to create relationships and not as a way to get more business. Sure, getting more business is a goal, but if all you pursue is “landing the client” then once you achieve that you’re done. One client does not a rainmaker make. If, however, you want to cultivate more business relationships, then you should focus on consistently finding ways to grow those relationships.
Sometimes that biggest hurdle to successful rainmaking is the fear that pursuing business development is veering into “sales” territory where you have to be pushy and aggressive. The fear of sales and of having to ask for business at every meeting and ask for referrals from every contact is the most often-cited reason for why professionals avoid business development. For this reason, Chapter 1 of Rainmaking Made Simple, by Mark Maraia, is devoted to shifting your mindset from “sales” or “what’s in it for me?” to “how can I help clients find solutions to their problems?” That simple shift, the change in the direction of your tires, is critical to removing the paralyzing pressure to sell and freeing you to simply connect with clients to see how you can help solve their problems. Once you’ve shifted your mindset to thinking like a rainmaker, it becomes infinitely easier to confidently embrace the rainmaking habits you put into place in your practice. Embracing a habit and effectively executing a habit are two different things, which is why it’s important to optimize your habits with good systems.
One way to become more consistent with executing a habit is to “stack” that habit with something you are already doing. For example, let’s say you want to reach out to 2 former clients each week to reconnect. At the same time, you have an hour commute on the train each morning and you typically use that time to keep up on the latest developments in your field by reading industry publications. To achieve your goal of developing your new habit, you can stack that habit onto your existing habit of morning reading like this: “whenever I finish an article, I will chose one person I know who might find it interesting and immediately email the article to her with a note letting her know this article made me think of her.” Boom! You just stacked a new habit onto an existing habit to make it easier to execute and you made a small incremental improvement in your business development.
Where can you stack business development habits onto existing habits in your practice to help you better achieve your rainmaking goals with just a small shift in your efforts? Some ideas might be:
- If you regularly go out for casual lunches with colleagues where you talk about nothing in particular, make a point of asking one person each week who their “ideal client” is. You’ll learn something about what they do and who might be a good referral for them and they’ll more than likely ask you who your ideal client is in return, thereby giving you the opportunity to practice your elevator speech and making it easier for your colleague to refer the right types of business to you as well.
- If you and your secretary already meet regularly to review your calendar, ask her to add business development actions to the agenda. Now you’ve created an accountability partner to help you stay on top of your rainmaking activities.
- If you often travel for business, at the same time as you’re booking your hotel commit to looking up former clients or network connections in that city (or asking colleagues who they know it that city) and reach out to set up a casual meeting to say hello.
It’s likely that you have several existing work-related habits that lend themselves to stacking on a new business development step. Remember, you don’t have to make monumental gains to see results. Just a 1% shift in your mindset and in what you’re already doing can reap great rewards in the long run. The Maraia Method© is built on taking many small, comfortable steps intended to grow relationships over time. By building a system of relationship-driven habits around your business development goals, you will achieve rainmaking success.
If those habits can be seamlessly integrated into the work you are already doing, you can be become the rainmaker you’ve always wanted to be with minimal effort. Maraia Institute can help you find the 1% shifts you need to make your practice, thrive and increase revenue to put you on par with the biggest rainmakers at your firm. We’ve been helping rainmakers find their stride for over twenty years and we’d like to help you, too.