What is the secret to building a book of business? Why do some partners succeed in developing work, while others, who appear to have everything going for them, are unable to get off the ground? The intangible factors are very important. They include self-discipline, gumption, interpersonal finesse, and a willingness to risk. Setting aside the intangibles and issues that vary from firm to firm, such as billing rates and how matters are credited, to begin, the focus has to be on a number of core ingredients that are required and need to be adjusted on an ongoing basis:

Making Rain: Ingredients for Success

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

One of the greatest distinguishing factors among partners who successfully and regularly originate business is that they ask for it. In any kind of service-oriented profession there are three steps that must be taken before the ''ask.'' They are:

Make a Connection

Relationships are everything. Clients and potential clients are first and foremost human beings. Sometimes it is uncomfortable for people to request what they want, and that should never be the focus of a meeting or a conversation when developing business. First a connection needs to be made, whether it is professional or a few polite questions that lead to common ground. Do you know someone in common? Are you both golf fanatics? Good interviewers always break the ice, and asking for business is a job interview, as is serving it and building those ties on current matters. Social decorum, politeness, and friendliness are as important as power and expertise. So behave with class.