I recall the first major conference I attended as part of The Rainmaker Companies thirteen years ago. It was in Las Vegas at the lavish Wynn Hotel (I was spoiled from the beginning), and I entered the main hall where hundreds of people were gathered for breakfast. Taking in the scene, I could see people interacting as if they were old friends, some who looked like they were holding court, surrounded by people hanging on their every word, and still others who, like me, were there for the first time, anxious and not sure who to approach.
It seemed like it would take a real effort over the next few days to meet people – and it did. But next year at the same event, it was easier. Year after year, the number of friendly faces and familiar conversations grew. It was a process moving from the unknown to the familiar, and then to friendship and trust. To this day, I still connect regularly with the people in my network that I met there.
Building relationships with other professionals can be done randomly or intentionally. Both can have a positive impact; however, a random network of people will very likely produce more scattered results, whereas intentionally developed relationships with professionals, which take effort and focus, will more likely produce the results you need. People do business with people they like and trust; building intimate relationships that are beneficial to your practice rarely comes through chance meetings that have no follow up or follow through.
One powerful method for developing professional relationships that will benefit you is through industry specialization. When a group of professionals share a common bond that aligns with the type of work they all do, everyone in that group benefits from the shared knowledge and insights of the collective members. For example, if everyone in a network or association is focused on working in the real estate or construction industries, then members of the group have an opportunity to regularly reconnect at conferences and other events to share ideas and resources specific to that industry, innovate, and collaborate with their colleagues. Over time, fellow members become key allies in the effort to remain relevant and knowledgeable for clients and key stakeholders in the real estate and construction industries.
Invest in the Relationships
Forming relationships with benefits is a process, not an event. Professional trust, reliance, and understanding takes the ongoing effort of being plugged in. It is not always easy to stay engaged with people and work on building the relationships that can make a difference, but by making time to be at meetings, dialing in to calls, sending regular messages to members of the group, and participating in the group’s discussions, you establish trust and start having the deeper discussions that result in powerful answers for the most challenging, and sometimes intractable, client and practice issues that you face.
Investing time in such a group provides tangible proof to clients and the overall market that you are investing time and money to know and understand industry issues, challenges, and profit drivers. This depth of expertise enables you to move toward the top of the value ladder, where you will have organizational impact. Fewer firms are comfortable at this height, yet this is the rarefied space where differentiation happens, and it becomes much easier for clients to see and feel what sets you apart. It’s also at the top of the value ladder where pricing discussions are far less contentious and even nonexistent.
Empowering others on your team to get involved in an industry niche and establish industry relationships of their own is an investment in the long-term viability of your niche and also leverages your people to obtain greater engagement, more information, and more ideas. You will find a more loyal and satisfied team when you spend resources on their education and experiences outside of the mandatory technical requirements of their work.
Receive the Benefits
Clients want to know that no issue is too big for you to handle, and their confidence grows when they understand the scope of resources you can deliver to them. You are not limited to the resources of your firm for serving clients when you can count on relationships with other professionals to expand the scope of what is possible. As a member of an industry group, you have access to a powerful network of subject-matter experts, services, information, and other resources.
Colleagues with a common purpose can add to your perspectives with alternative points of view and stories. Remaining isolated, and cutting yourself off from these external thoughts and views, narrows your scope of resources and limits the viable solutions for clients.
There is a saying that ‘it takes a village to raise a family’, meaning that even in a very intimate family situation, many outside influencers and supporters (relationships developed over time) are always stepping up to help. Similarly, no great person, team, or firm will ever be able to do it all on their own. It is important to have a support system of outside resources to fill in the gaps so you stay on track to meet your goals and fulfill your mission to serve clients at an elevated level and add value to their business.
If you are considering ways to establish and grow relationships with practice leaders from around the country, consider joining a Rainmaker Niche Community, attend our upcoming NicheWorks or other events to meet and learn from some of the industry’s top growth-focused leaders, or Contact Us for a complimentary consultation on how Rainmaker can help enhance your firm’s growth culture.