Rainmakers Are Always Interested

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.
 And even:
 

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.
 

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4 Responses to “Rainmakers Are Always Interested”

  1. Maureen Rogers Says:

    I haven’t been in the consulting/freelance biz for that long, but it’s definitely important to figure out how to manage the boom-bust. It’s also very tempting to pounce on any lead/opportunity/project that comes along out of sheer terror that this will be the last one. You’re so right that it takes time to convert any lead to a real job, so I will pretty much make the time to talk to anyone about what they’re looking for. If they seem to have an immediate project that I really can’t take on, I try to pass the lead onto someone in my (trusted) network who can work it. The customer appreciates the help; my network buddy appreciates the work. Mostly, as you point out, it take a while for the actual work to materialize. Best to make the time make sure you’re working your pipeline.

  2. Ford Harding Says:

    Maureen:

    These are good practices. Has turning a client away because you are too busy ever hurt you?

    Ford

  3. Barry W. Morris Says:

    “True rainmakers are always looking for more work.”

    I think this is excellent advice for both new and seasoned rainmakers. The power of our language is so often an under-acknowledged force in our business success.

  4. Ford Harding Says:

    Barry:

    And how you use it, both in the words that you choose and the way you express them provides 90 percent of the information that other people have about you.

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