In Part 1 of “The secret to becoming a rainmaker,” I shared the one thing that I think makes the greatest difference in lawyers who are effective business developers. Here is an excerpt of that post:
This post isn’t about telling you how to sell. It’s about me finally articulating the one attribute that stands out among all others – the one attribute that enables lawyers, regardless of practice area, industry strength, personality type, communication style, law firm or law school credentials, to consistently and effectively develop client relationships that pay off.
Here it is: Stop thinking about yourself.
The “Secret to Becoming a Rainmaker – Part 1” was that easy. Now here is Part 3.
Remember the old product/service project triangle: “good – fast – cheap: pick any two” -? In another back-of-the-napkin, Pinot Noir-fueled discussion last Thursday with client and friend, Mark Shank, we discussed a “Triangle of Success” for lawyers (all professionals, really – anyone who sells their brain power and experience – including marketers and business development folks). The traditional “pick any two” doesn’t work for professionals who want to fast-forward their careers.
The “Triangle of Success” principle is nearly as simple as “Stop thinking about yourself.” For the highest level of success in the formative years of your career, professionals must equally embrace each side of the triangle. The three legs of the triangle are:
- Relationship development
- Reputation management
- Service delivery
What we see here is an equilateral Triangle of Success. When one’s career takes off, it’s natural to adjust the focus of the triangle – perhaps, as we learned in 10th grade geometry class, to an isosceles triangle, where you invest more heavily in two sides that are of equal length, with a third side that is shorter. Another option is where all three sides are of unequal length, as illustrated in a scalene triangle. But – for your success trajectory to continue throughout your career, you must invest something in all three areas.
Professionals who are especially technically proficient in their subject matter dismiss relationship development as too “touchy-feely.” They often don’t respect those whose greatest proficiency is establishing rapport and trust among prospects and clients. This group struggles to recognize that without clients, no law firm would exist.
Certain lawyers build their reputations through credentialing activities, such as speaking, publishing, blogging or tweeting. They are known for being experts in an area, but they are sometimes not regarded for their exceptional service delivery. Other practicing professionals may regard this group as “self-promoters,” spending too much time on credentialing and not enough on clocking billable hours.
And the final triangle-leg is made up of those who are strong legal practitioners, who are the happiest when they are closed in their offices tackling a client’s issue. This group often relies on others to bring in the work – and they would feel challenged by having to give a speech or develop lasting, meaningful relationships with people who could be clients.
The need for balance is obvious, but too many professionals are – (I’m going to say it) – slackers in the areas that sit just outside their comfort zone. Investing in the Triangle of Success takes commitment early in your career, similar to the discipline we have when it comes to exercise or eating right. Don’t just invest in the areas that are easy for you – equally invest in all three.
When you’ve attained a level of success, you can adjust your investment so that it is tailored to what you enjoy most.