I had a great lunch with a colleague recently and the topic turned to Rainmaking. She shared with me that even though she’s trying to build her business, she’s had to cut back significantly on her networking activities because she has so many other things that compete for her time. We can all relate – right?
But it’s a delicate balance. If we do less networking, it’s difficult to meet the people who will become clients or referral sources – particularly when the business is young or in growth mode. Having not enough time is always a problem. So, how do we engage in the very important tasks of Rainmaking and still find balance? Here are some of my suggestions:
Take stock of the many things pulling at you and competing for your time. Is it existing client projects? Family? Non-profit or philanthropic areas you may be involved in (charities or your church)? Ask yourself,
“What is the most important thing for me to be doing right now to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself?” This is where written goal setting is so important. Some time ago, when you weren’t so crazily busy and being pulled in 100 directions, you sat down and told yourself what you really wanted to accomplish this year. And, if you did it well, you probably carved out goals for your business and your personal life. Now, pull out that paper and ask yourself if your goals have really changed, or if life has just come in and made it more challenging? If building your business is a stated priority, find a way to allocate some time to that and maybe reallocate in other areas of your life. Could your spouse help pick up the kids one extra night per week? Can you hire a housekeeper to do some of the heavy lifting? Can you do some of that client project from home, rather than commute several hours per day? Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking differently about the things that steal away the minutes of our days.
It can be hard to delegate marketing or Rainmaking activities – particularly if you own your business and are the key person responsible for driving revenue. Unless you can afford to hire a salesperson (and many times in start-up or growth mode we cannot), you’ll still have to do much of it yourself. Continue reading “Rainmaking – Finding the Time & Balance”
As Rainmakers, we have to make daily decisions about where to focus our energy. If you’re in the business of just selling work (as opposed to fulfilling client projects as well), it’s relatively easy to decide. But most of us are pulled in many directions with competing priorities. And while we all inherently deal with these things daily, sometimes it’s good to take a deeper look at where we are spending our time, money and energy.
I’ve had a few occasions lately to think about what the investment of these three valuable commodities means in terms of my business and my life. Here are some areas where making an investment can really pay off in building your sales pipeline:
Join and remain active in professional associations and groups
A large part of building your referral base is in networking with the right target market. First you have to find them, of course. But once you know who you want to building relationships with, you’ve got to get in the room with them. Oftentimes a component of that is joining professional associations related to your field, or the field of your target audience. For example, I’m a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance, and ProVisors, to name a few. I pay my annual dues to each of these organizations, and often pay additional amounts for events, dinner meetings, etc. Payment of those dues (the financial investment) is the basic entrance fee to get in the door. But the time spent attending events for each of those groups can add up as well. And the level of energy we bring to the party in terms of personal commitment can make a huge difference. Let’s say that a member pays the annual dues, attends the monthly meetings, and then enjoys the speaker presentation. Sure, she’ll meet a few people and exchange a few business cards, and maybe even feel invested. Well, maybe! But what if, instead, the member paid her dues, took an active role on the local board of directors or on a committee, and then came to each meeting with a goal of meeting 4 new people and scheduling lunch with 2 of them. Not much more money. Certainly a little more time. But cranking up the engagement and energy a little can provide big results. You’re no longer just a member – you’re an engaged member!
It’s the first week of July – the midpoint of the year! If you’re the kind of business owner who likes to pause and take stock of where your company is at a given time – this is a pretty good time to do it. In my Rainmaking courses I talk to my participants a lot about accountability. If you don’t stop and periodically review key indicators in your firm like progress toward your sales goals for the year, the progress (and potential lagging points) of longer projects, your collection rate on receivables, and your rate per hour (or profitability of fixed fee projects, if applicable), then how will you know how to adjust in the next half of the year? This is particularly important for those in the businesses of selling services – like accountants, attorneys, and consultants. Your inventory is time. Are you on track with your inventory management?
Building a sales pipeline is one of the areas that truly does require regular review – much more frequently than just at the midpoint of the year, in my opinion. But, if you haven’t been regularly reviewing it or honestly even engaging with it, this is a good time to get re-energized. “The year is half over?” OR “The second half of the year is just beginning!” So much of what we do when we lead service businesses is to find ways to motivate ourselves every day to keep up the good work. That includes combining a positive mind-set with accountability. Continue reading “Rainmaking – Mid Year Accountability”