DR. E. CAROL WEBSTER’S
FEAR OF REJECTION RUINS RAINMAKING
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2003
Many capable people fail to succeed in large firms today because of poor rainmaking skills. Their technical skills are flawless and they are generally sociable, likable people. But they dread asking people for business and, thus, fail to bring many new clients into their company. In today’s glutted, cutthroat marketplace, this spells disaster. The more partners define performance in terms of new business generated, the more you must produce.
So, what’s the problem? Often it is feeling embarrassed that you must admit to other people that you need business. Sole proprietors wrestle with this everyday, but they don’t have the luxury of seeing it as an option. If they don’t ask for business they will soon be out of business! But, when you work for a large firm it is possible to believe that it is somebody else’s problem to bring in clients and that your job is only to do the work you were hired to do. The more prestigious your firm is, the harder it may be for you to accept the need to have to hustle for clients. These firms typically have been around for years and it’s easy to believe they will always exist — with or without your help.
First and foremost, accept that rainmaking is not an option. Consider it a necessary part of your job if you want to thrive — or in many cases, survive — in a competitive work situation. Then, take a close look at what you dislike about having to hunt for business:
What about the fear of rejection?
You might wonder what this fear has to do with anything, but think about it: To get someone to do business with you or another professional in your office, you must sell yourself. If not directly, you must in some way impress the individual to the point that they contact you the next time they need your services. People are often intimidated about doing this because they aren’t sure what to say or do to create such a winning impression. Secretly, they may question what is truly unique about them compared to their colleagues, and fail to come up with a convincing answer. So, they fear being rejected and don’t try at all.
How about resistance to doing the job you feel belongs to the partners of your firm?
You may feel insufficiently compensated for all the other work you do and balk at the requirement that you bring in new business too. When the firm has no formal means of tracking or rewarding you for each client you bring in, some people have difficulty mustering the motivation to make a lot of referrals. It can be particularly tough when you already feel overloaded and bringing in new business to yourself means a heavier caseload for you!
These issues will keep you dragging your feet about getting out to network so that you can meet potential new clients. But, if you see that rainmaking is a matter of survival where you work, then you must overcome these resistances. If you are a sole proprietor or head of a small firm, it’s “do or die”.
So what do you do?
Begin by identifying a forum that you are likely to enjoy whether you make any business contacts or not. Perhaps a group of prominent professionals in your town who get together every month for lunch? The Board of Directors of an organization that does work you admire in the community? A Chamber of Commerce or other Business League? There are plenty of options, but choose those that hold your interest so that you will be motivated to attend consistently. People like to do business with people they know and like, but they can’t get to know you if you don’t attend meetings. You may resent this encroachment into your “personal time” — time normally allocated for yourself or your family, but that’s the way it is. These types of demands go along with the territory and it’s up to you to figure out how to juggle it all. But, you’ll feel less aggravated about the whole matter if you select an activity that you can enjoy for itself and not view it as something you have to do for the firm. This may require some trial and error sampling of various forums, but results will come. Keep at it.
The need for rainmaking will persist. In fact, we are in an era where more is likely to be explicitly expected of you as time goes on. Some will prefer to change jobs or do something else to avoid it. That may be a good choice for you, but don’t select that option before addressing any fears that may be at the root of your resistance. These fears will follow you to the new job and create a different set of problems there. You got where you are today because you’re a capable person, so put your mind to it and figure out a way to promote yourself and your firm while having some fun too!
About the Author:
Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,
The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at https://drcarolwebster.com or call 954.797.9766.
E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317
Reprint Policy: You are welcome to reprint this article for your personal use and to share with friends and associates.
Contact Dr. Webster to obtain permission for any commercial purposes.