Last month I ran my first marathon, in St. George, Utah. I took my training extremely seriously, reading a couple of books on the subject, altering my diet and losing weight. I even read an absurd number of blog posts and Internet articles about running marathons. Unfortunately, none of this prepared me for what happened the morning of the big race: I got sick, threw up and couldn't even keep fluids down. I wasn't going to quit, though, after more than 100 hours of training. So I relaxed, tried to take small sips of Gatorade until the race started and then I was off.
It was like I had never been sick. My first few miles flew by, fueled by pure adrenalin. I was running a little ahead of pace, but for the most part kept it conservative, completing 9-minute miles. As I ran, surrounded by 7,499 other runners, I was caught up in the moment, I guessor maybe I was still a little nauseousbut I wasn't drinking very much. I didn't really realize this until I got to about mile 12 and found that even though both Gatorade bottles attached to my belt should have been empty by this point, one of them was still full.
I hit the halfway mark right on my goal pace. But it wouldn't last. Ten minutes later, I hit a wall unlike any I had experienced before. I had become severely dehydrated. A runner's body needs two things to perform at a high level: water and glucose. And I hadn't provided my body with enough of either.
In the legal profession, rainmakers stay "hydrated" by remembering two principles: "Feed the funnel" and follow up. They do the former by continually prospecting, searching out new business and new relationships.
They also understand that relationships take a long time to cultivate and that sometimes they might not see immediate results. "The fortune is in the follow-up," said law firm marketing expert Stephen Fairley of The Rainmaker Institute.
Follow-up can take many forms, but there are three essentials. First, get back in touch within 48 hours of meeting a new prospect, to cement the relationship. Second, connect on a monthly or bimonthly basis with prospects and high-value relationships. Thirdand most often forgotten by attorneyscheck in following completion of a trial or a deal to find out how you did. Each type of follow-up requires discipline and attention to detail. A good lawyer would never miss a judge's deadline; a good rainmaker never forgets to follow up.
When I talk to chief marketing officers and directors of business development at firms across the country, I hear one theme repeated more than any other: "I can't get my lawyers to follow up." We are all busy, and it is easy to find pressing tasks to fill our days, but rainmakers understand that without a consistent plan for follow-up they will be in trouble.
I managed to finish my first marathon, but I was left with a real sense of disappointment. Maybe it is the lawyer in me, but I didn't want to merely finish, I wanted to excel. Don't make the same mistake I didstay hydrated.
This article first appeared in The National Law Journal, an affiliate of the Daily Report.
Adrian Dayton is an attorney and author of the book Social Media for Lawyers (Twitter Edition). His website is adriandayton.com.