Chapter 3 of Rain Making by Ford Harding

In the past year I have bought and given away over two-dozen copies of Rain Making with one condition to the recipients: They had to agree to read chapter 3.

The term “Rain Maker” has been around for years. It is often used, rarely understood, and almost never implemented properly. Rain Making, by Ford Harding addresses the fundamentals of what makes a rain maker, from building business and developing relationships, to creating new jobs. The focus is not simply on understanding how to become a rain maker, but how to clearly identify a path for implementation.

Chapter 3, devoted to networking, (a personal passion of mine) is by far the best read anywhere on the topic. To give you an idea, I have read literally hundreds of articles on the topic, I have studied the topic as a Fellow at Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business, and I have read numerous books on building business. Ford Harding simply writes an easy to understand and implement approach to a topic that has long been misunderstood.

Beyond chapter 3, Rain Making is divided into three sections: Generating Leads, Advancing and Closing a Sale, and Strategy: What Works and What Doesn’t.

Generating Leads
The first section on Generating Leads is a “must read” for the marketers, engineers, and architects that are looking for a fresh and relevant perspective on business development. It clearly articulates the various types of marketing tactics, their purpose, and their proper use.

Advancing and Closing a Sale
The second section on Advancing and Closing a Sale, while not as sexy as the other two sections, gives a great review of the basics of sealing the deal, including presentations, writing a proposal, and quoting a fee.

Strategy: What Works and What Doesn’t
The final section, Strategy: What Works and What Doesn’t, carefully articulates plans for both individuals and corporations that are intertwined with a since of purpose and strategy. The section is written towards what can be done today, not simply lofty plans for a future plan that will be forgotten in a week.

If you are looking for a book that will motivate and educate you on the tactics and strategy for becoming a Rain Maker, and provide you with useful tidbits that you can start the day you finish reading, I highly recommend Rain Making by Ford Harding.

The Real Way to Network

“Networking is not about the ‘immediate’, nor is it about ‘take’. Effectively done, it is a long-term proposition.” Mark Buckshon

It is an honor to be mentioned in Mark Buckshon’s recent blog entitled ‘The Real Way to Network.”  Mark, the President of Construction News and Report, has a long history of excellent journalism and one of the best blogs in the A/E/C industry.  His many blogs relating to Networking are well worth reading. Check him out at: http://constructionmarketingideas.blogspot.com/

Network Like an Introvert

If you ever meet John you’d take him for a hard working guy that likes to have fun. He is an introvert by nature that has succeeded at embracing networking. John is one of those guys that can pick-up the phone and bring more work in the door in one day than others do in a year. He has learned to succeed at networking not by perfecting his elevator speech or by collecting business cards, but through the knowledge that developing one strong relationship is better than developing a thousand acquaintances.

For years we have been told that extroverts are better networkers than introverts, and there is no doubt that would be true if networking was about getting more business cards than your competition. But networking isn’t about business cards; it’s about building relationships with the objective of helping others, knowing that as you help others they will in-turn help you. It is time we re-evaluate how we network and learn a few lessons from introverts on networking.

Introverts on Building Relationships
Relationships are the foundation of networking. Introverts and extroverts alike have a God given instinct to develop relationships. The difference is that introverts have fewer relationships, but those they have tend to be more meaningful than those of extroverts. Surprisingly, this innate focus on relationships is the primary thing that stifles extroverts’ success when networking. Introverts succeed because they concentrate on a small select group of relationships that are positioned to make them succeed.

Who would you rather network with: an introvert that is devoted to building a relationship with you and is constantly looking for ways to help you be successful, or an extrovert that knows everyone and treats you as just one of many?

Introverts on Helping Others
While relationships are the foundation of networking, helping people is the objective. For an introvert it is easy to focus on helping a small group of people by providing leads, referrals, information, and ideas to others. Extroverts may think they are helping hundreds of people, but in reality they are failing to focus on the key relationships that are poised to make them succeed. This broad approach leads to mediocre results, because it is strong relationships that truly become mutually beneficial. To succeed at networking, an extrovert needs to likewise develop a small group of key relationships.

Introverts on Small Groups
Why only focus on a small group of people? Because networking succeeds when it creates a sense of obligation and urgency between two people. When someone provides you with a lead or referral you have an innate desire to help them in return. If they provide you with ten leads and ten referrals a month, now you have developed a healthy obligation to help them.
Most people perceive an obligation as a bad thing, yet introverts know that a strong sense of obligation is beneficial to developing a networking relationship. It creates urgency as both people work to help one another. The obligation that is developed by helping someone will keep you in the forefront of their mind, and them in the forefront of yours. As a result, both parties benefit as the relationship develops and they are actively motivated to help one another.

Success is based on your plan, not your relational tendencies
You are not going to succeed at networking just because you were born an extrovert. It is time to sit down and write out a list of your top ten key relationships that are poised to help you succeed. Then take those top ten relationships and start focusing on introvert networking; that is developing meaningful relationships with each of those people and focus on how you can help each of them succeed.

Article published in the June 2007 Edition of SMPS Marketer