by Angela S. Calzone and JP Tolentino
Rainmaking or business development is an essential, yet vastly underdeveloped skill that women should master in order to expand their organizations and help ensure a consistent pipeline of work. In terms of professional development for women, rainmaking can offer a higher income, more job control and influence in their organization, and can aid them in breaking the glass ceiling that can often separate them from their male counterparts.
It seems however, that rainmaking does not come easily to women. There is less of an opportunity for women to expand an organization’s client base and network to make the connections and build relationships necessary to become successful rainmakers. Little exposure to rainmaking may also emanate from not being included as part of the marketing team or resultant of a lack of mentoring. Being influenced by decision makers and deal closers is essential in learning to develop business. This lack of exposure leads to a shortage of present-day women rainmakers that can mentor future attorneys in business development.
“The imbalance of having fewer rainmakers is having an increasingly negative effect on women.” In businesses, rainmakers often have higher compensation, rank higher in their organization, and have significant influence over the organization’s strategic direction and other critical decisions. Rainmakers with more extensive books of business, often find more stability and flexibility in their careers. Whether remaining with one organization for the duration of their career or choosing to change organizations, the ability to be successful rainmakers gives women more marketability as business developers. This in turn, affords women further opportunities to advance and seek more prominent positions throughout their career.
Career flexibility is another valuable benefit of business development. Women who make time for rainmaking, and form good relationships with their clients and referral sources, find that they have much more control over [their] life and [their] schedule. This flexibility is vital for any woman seeking to strike a balance between her work and professional life. Flexibility can also lead to more rainmaking opportunities in that schedule flexibility allows one to set time aside to network and take time for professional development.
Rainmaking can help women break the glass ceiling. Women that have mastered business development are more likely to have a voice in their organization’s growth, and be appointed to key internal committees. Rainmaking for women thus acts as the hammer to break the glass ceiling. Women trained in business development, know how to generate new business, get more clients, and are an asset to their organizations because they have enough business to keep not only themselves but also other associates busy.
With the proper guidance and mentoring, women can overcome the shortage of female rainmakers in organizations today. Here are a few tips from successful women rainmakers in business:
Networking: Organized, calculated networking can lead to successful rainmaking. Schedule time for rainmaking and make it part of the daily routine. Successful business development also requires organization. This can be as simple as keeping track of who is contacted and the result of the connection was. A former colleague or law school classmate can provide leads to new business. Contacting former clients to keep them apprised of “business current events” can generate new or expanded business. Women lawyers should target groups that can benefit from their experience when networking.
Role Models, Mentors, & Affinity Groups: Women need to take time and learn how to generate new business. A mentor allows a woman access to a network of clients that would otherwise take years to build. Women that hold positions of power in an organization and that are successful business developers become role models to younger women at the organization. Affinity groups aimed at helping young women can be a place to learn valuable rainmaking skills.
Training: Training in business development can help women not only expand their rainmaking opportunities, but also provide longevity to their careers. Rainmaking is a skill that can be taught. If organizations invest time and resources into properly training women in the art of business development, then not only would women gain a valuable skill, but the organizations would also reap the benefits.
Teamwork: Working as a team to develop a book of business can help organizations expand their reach. Collaboration allows women to reach a diverse group of clients through their colleagues who may work in other business areas. Teamwork, particularly among young women, affords them the opportunity to build their own book of business instead of relying solely on inheriting it from a firm’s more established mentors.
Building individuals books of business and making connections early on can lead to more opportunities throughout a woman’s career. With mentoring and training still an optional part of professional development, women in business need to take control of the future of their careers and start forming associations that can give them a lifetime of business.