May 01, 2012

Rainmaking for the New and Newly Solo

Ann M. Guinn

Okay, you’ve taken the big leap and started your own practice. You have an ad in the local newspaper, a five-page website, and your business cards sport four colors. All you have to do now is stand aside to avoid injury as your eager clients-to-be come rushing to your door, right? I heard of that very thing happening once. Oh, wait—that was Starbucks. Sorry, my mistake. I’ve never actually heard of that happening in a law firm. Maybe my personal story will help you see that the “build-it-and-they-will-come” thing doesn’t happen in real life.

When my business partner and I launched our support staff training business in 1986, we had a phone installed in my spare bedroom, had business cards printed . . . and waited. In the first month, the phone rang three times—two of those calls were my Mom, checking to make sure the phone was working. It was nine long months before we got our first real client. Our mistake? We assumed that sending out a letter to our potential clients would drive them to our door. That didn’t happen. We didn’t understand the art of “rainmaking”—getting the skies to open up and pour new clients down upon us. We didn’t know that you couldn’t tell people just once what you do and expect them to hire you. You need to tell them over and over again. “Out of sight” is truly “out of mind.” So, let me share some of the rainmaking lessons I’ve picked up over the years, and perhaps we can shave a few months (and a lot of stress) off your learning curve.

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