(Blogger’s Note: Some readers may note that both Ian Brodie and I use the term Rainmaker Resource. I for a category of post and he for the title of a blog. In case anyone is curious, we are both aware of this sharing of the term and agree that it bothers us not at all.)
Readers use this blog and others to learn how to make rain, stay current with new ideas or to refresh knowledge. I hope you get those things from this blog and feel honored by your confidence. It is only fair to tell you that this blog or any other, or any book or newsletter or video isn’t always the best place.
That’s because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Rainmaking = Doing, if you go somewhere that people network, you can watch them do it and then try it, yourself. And try it again. This is what professional associations are for. (Well, one of several things they are for). I was reminded of this in a recent post by Mark Buckshon about the value of working associations to get close to prospective clients.
When I knew nothing . . . nothing about business development, pros like Nancy Cameron-Egan, Karen Randall and the late Oscar Megerdichian showed me how at association meetings. In an earlier post I described how I observed Dennis Donovan, then a skilled competitor, network with speakers at such events.
When I was first given a senior management position at a consulting firm, I had the good fortune to attend an Association of Management Consulting Firms (AMCF) meeting. I learned more there about running an office and a practice and helping to direct a firm than I could possibly have learned anywhere else. I could ask questions and get answers that would have been impossible within the confines of the firm I was with. If I were a new senior executive at a management consulting firm, that’s an organization that I would make time for. I make time for it today, too, and don’t regret a minute spent there. Some of the most senior executives of some of the largest consulting firms also make time for AMCF in their busy schedules. Something must be happening there, don’t you think?
The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) is a critical resource for anyone involved in business development at architecture, engineering and construction firms. I have gone to as many meetings of this organization and to as many of its chapters as any association I belong to. I don’t believe I have ever come away from an SMPS meeting without learning something of value or without meeting someone helpful to know. In the built environment professions, where winning a project depends so much on who has better information and who is on the right teams, operating without access to the information and people that flow through SMPS meetings borders on professional business development malpractice.
Different organizations are valuable at different times and in different ways. For example, AMCF is for midsized to large consulting firms, while the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) is focused more on sole practitioners and consultants at small firms. When I started my own firm and was struggling with a financial accounting issue, responses to a casual question that I posed over dinner at an IMC meeting provided a raft of information that saved me hours of work and out-of-pocket expenses—and I enjoyed the company and dinner, too. A small project won on a referral from an IMC member resulted in content that clients find helpful and challenging ten years later.
I don’t know the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) or the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM), but get favorable reports on them from those who do.
Some clients whom I recommend participating in these associations respond by saying that they could probably give a lot more than they learn at such gatherings. Maybe so, but I have devoted much of the past thirty years and all of the past fifteen to learning about selling professional services, written three books and dozens of articles on the subject, given many speeches and worked with hundreds of aspiring rainmakers and I feel that what I get from such groups far outweighs what I give. Maybe it’s a matter of knowing what you are looking for. I’m a believer! Can you tell?
Well, now that I have that rant out of my system, it’s time to turn in for the night.