The words you say today can hurt you in the future.
Many professionals are so busy these days that they obsess about their workloads. This is especially true of those who are just below partner level. These people are the backbone of a professional firm. They run many engagements and are responsible for quality control. In a hot economy, they bill sixty to seventy hours a week, and often more. They also have many non-billable responsibilities, such as interviewing job candidates, training recent hires, and representing their office, practice or studio on committees. It’s no wonder they are obsessed with the workload.
One result of this condition is the devaluation of leads (see my posting May 7, 2007, “The Lead Glut and Its Consequences”). If they think about leads at all, professionals in these circumstances are likely to dread them, because they can’t handle additional work and dislike turning a client away. When a client or other business contact asks how things are going, many of these people and many partners, too, are likely to respond with words like:
–I’ve never seen it so good in all my years in the profession.
–Our biggest need right now is for more people.
–We’re running flat out. This is the best year we’ve ever had.
–A little less work might even be a good thing.
I caught myself using this last sentence not long ago.
These statements are all true and also advertise the demand for your services, but they have a drawback: They can discourage a contact from referring business your way.
If you have been in the professions for long, you know how quickly business conditions can change. Within two or three months you can go from hardly being able to keep your head above water to standing high up on the beach with an ebb tide taking the water further and further away. Because it takes time to convert a referral into lead and a lead into a new assignment, the claims you made two months ago that put off a referral can deprive you of a lead today, when you really need it.
That’s why, in good times and in bad, some savvy old professionals always say
–We’re always looking for more work, though . . .
These are words worth remembering. True rainmakers are always looking for more work.