Rainmaker advice…from Winnie The Pooh

Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
by Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence on October 26, 2019
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September 15, 2019
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November 3, 2019

Advice on Rainmaking is available everywhere. This 5 minute read will support you continue to succeed in business development as the ‘go-to’ rainmaker  in 2019.

This business development article is is written for Rainmaker PRO Law Tech software by Bob Spence business development coach at legal consultancy Wilkinson Read & Partners. (They have celebrated their 26th anniversary). He also works within the EVOLET Partnership based in Bratislava alongside people development specialist Ivan Kosalko.

If you were under the impression that Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and the rest of the cast were irrelevant after a certain age…you will discover that  Winnie the Pooh was actually producing rainmaking quotes that are very relevant today.

PRO Rainmakers make it happen

It vital that you make a commitment to grasping the fundamentals of business development. This is because it is not a numbers game nor is it about knowing or being known by an infinite number of people. Neither is it about mastering a 60 second pitch and quoting this every single opportunity that arrives in front of you. So to make it happen, you have to raise your profile within the marketplace you want to succeed. Winnie-the-Pooh understood rainmaking perfectly.

‘You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes’


Pooh was right because you have to continually reach out to the key connections that are in your network. Rainmaker PRO has been completing research around business development and rainmaking best practice. We have found that time and time again the volume of follow through after making connection makes the difference. So few people do it. Our data analysis suggests that you need to connect ‘5-times’ to create any level of relationship. This is a key take out for successful rainmaking.


  1. A card swap.
  2. A follow-up email.
  3. A phone call for an invitation to take coffee.
  4. A coffee meet-up.
  5. A coffee meet-up follow-up email.

This is to establish a rainmaking starting point.

PRO Rainmakers are great listeners

There is a misconception that the most successful rainmakers are extraordinary communicators. So of course, you may well be blessed with the oratory skills of Richard Burton and the material of Winston Churchill. (Alternatively the presence of Helen Mirren and the speeches of Condoleezza Rice). However for the rest of us we have to consider every word that we use. So the key to rainmaking is to understand the other person’s point of view or the other person’s needs. This is because the only way to do that in a reasonable manner is to listen, listen and listen. Pooh was on the money with his view about listening:

‘Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem’


If you want to build a network of connections that connects to your business goals you will need to be someone that others value as part of their network. Committed rainmakers recognise that they only have so many rainmaking opportunities each week to build and maintain their own network. In that context you need to be a ‘go-to-contact’. You can only do that if you are able to be of value. So to do that you must understand what the other person values. Be aware of the professional and commercial pressures that they might face and search for how you can be of benefit to them. To do that you have to be a skilled listener.

PRO Rainmakers move out of their comfort zone

By this we mean to seriously consider a self development programme to upgrade yourself in terms of being a rainmaker. How you got to ‘here’ may not get you to go ‘there’, where ever there might be. It is an important step. To do that you will need to read business growth books. Ones that are specific to the additional skill set that you recognise as your personal rainmaking areas to develop. You could consider to attend workshops or seminars if that fits your style of improvement  better. You could include having an occasional coffee meet-up with a non-competing professional. Someone who is already a success in business development. Attending conferences where other successful attorneys are discussing their rainmaking experiences is also another way to grow. It is a hard reality that you will be unable to build a multi-million turn over practice by staying inside your comfort zone. Winne-the-Pooh understood this.

‘You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes’


It is not so easy to think like this. Also is it not easy to take the rainmaking actions to follow through. Everyone is so busy. However there is a cost of doing this and absolutely a bigger cost of not doing this. Who is the most successful person/rainmaker that competes in your space. What type of network of connections do they possess? What are they doing that you could consider as a rainmaking strategy? Mirroring the actions of the most successful people/rainmaker within the skill set that you possess is a direct way of getting uncomfortable because this is usually where your personal growth exists. ‘You have to fo to them sometimes’.

PRO Rainmakers buy into the needs of their connections

The top rainmaker understand the needs of their connections and goes the extra yard in terms of being conversant with the matters that concern them. (As a Million Dollar Round Table qualifier I dealt mostly with haulage drivers. I learnt how to speak fluent road haulage and understood the day to day financial and commercial concerns that they had. This was because it is more valuable to them than my ability to discuss financial planning). Pooh nailed it:

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”


Have you considered what your value sounds like to a layman? So, is it easy for someone without your background, to explain to a 3rd party, why they chose to work with you? Being great at what you do will not support your network to introduce you to other connections. The $64 Million Dollar question is; can you produce a rainmaker sound bite, not a 60 second pitch, that is an easy explanation as to why you are a valuable connection? (This is a vital piece of rainmaker communication and it is not an explanation of what you do). Your job is to coomunicate the most easily understood value of what you represent, to a 3rd party.

PRO Rainmakers reciprocate

What can you do for your network of connections that is of value to them? It could be making introductions, sharing information, supporting them build their network…there are practical things that you can do as a rainmaker that generates quid pro quo. So making yourself a valued part of another persons network is a key step to becoming referable. There is no point in having a network unless this is something that is relatively straight forward to do. Even Piglet grasped it!

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”

Examples in business can include:

  • An invitation to an industry event
  • Providing insight which a client/prospect can apply to their business
  • Referrals to potentila clients
  • Introductions to key connections
  • Sharing market information where appropriate

Rainmakers are often working out how to do favours, make connections and share knowledge. If it is appropriate generating an amount of good will, by giving without the expectation of reciprocity, is a key component of the ‘give and take’ of referrals that I have observed exclusively in the behaviors of top rainmakers. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. We are ‘matchers’ where the norm is to help those who help us, maintaining an equal balance of give and take. Although ‘matchers’ benefit from referral collaboration more than ‘takers’ do, they can be inefficient vehicles for exchange, as people trade favours within ‘closed loops’. That is, they dip into their existing network of ‘qualified’ referral contacts, limiting themselves to only those that they believe can help them in return. Always try to deliver a large amount of gratitude to those within your network.

One last piece of advice from Pooh Bear:

“You’re braver than you believe and stronger and smarter than you think.”

J. Robert Spence

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Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
5next co-founder. Trainer, networking coach, writer & author. Educated at L. S. E. & Wits University. ‘$1,000,000 Round Table’ sales qualifier. Author ILM accredited: ‘Executive Programme in Professional & Business Networking’. Rainmaking experience in RSA, UK, France, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Dubai, Poland, Germany, Slovak Republic & the USA.
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