As you know, I’ve been working on a novel for 20 months. I feel like I’m still learning and practicing, but I’m not happy with my first completed effort.

A couple of weeks ago, when I spoke to young lawyers in Boston I met John Cunningham. He shares my interest in writing and helping lawyers. So, I asked him to share with you what rainmakers and writers have in common.

John Cunningham

Here is Part 1. Tomorrow I will post Part 2.

As a person who writes a lot about legal marketing, I work in a sparsely populated part of the world where writers and rainmakers intersect.

You might think that the two groups have little in common, writers being profiled largely as analytical introverts and rainmakers being thought of as gregarious extroverts.

But, Cordell Parvin, inspired me to think differently about this subject. After years of following Cordell’s blog, I finally got to speak with him in person at the Boston Bar Association headquarters on the occasion of his informative presentation: “Brand Yourself: Starting Right for Career Success.”

In thinking about his tips on business development and my own work as a writer, I came up with at least 10 elements that are common to successful writing and rainmaking alike.

1. Planning. As many successful rainmakers have told me, it is always good to start the year with a plan. Like a professional salesman, many good rainmakers target the prospects they want to meet, figure out how to connect with them, and look for ways of building bonds with them. They also set goals and track their progress.

Good writers similarly outline their writing plans, figure out how to achieve them, and work toward deadlines to insure progress. But both groups of people have to remain flexible, changing their plans when characters in their lives or stories take on unexpected dimensions. As Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt once said:

The more we proceed by plan, the more likely it is we encounter the divine accident.

2. Getting Inside of People’s Minds. Both writers and rainmakers can perform at their best by getting inside of people’s heads. A good rainmaker learns everything he can about a prospect before a meeting whenever possible, and a good writer gets inside the heads of his or her characters so that they become three-dimensional beings with whom the writer has an inspired connection that can be conveyed to the reader.

3. Passion. All of the rainmakers I have interviewed were people with genuine enthusiasm, not only for their own work, but for that of their clients. They have or they discover a motivating passion for what they do. They get hired in part because they care. They seem intuitively to operate on the principle that Simon Sinek once articulated:

People don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it.

Great writers similarly must have a passion for what they do. Anything less leads to formulaic, soul-less composition that fails to connect with readers and leaves no lasting impressions.

4. Persistence. Both writers and rainmakers need persistence. First-time authors are routinely and often disparagingly rejected by publishers. John Grisham and Stephen King are just two examples of great authors who have received dozens of now hilarious rejection letters.

Rainmakers similarly can expect to hear the word “no” many times before they become so well known that people seek them out. Neither group could succeed without a gritty persistence that endures even when the passion wanes.

5. Originality. Writers and rainmakers must be original to stand out from the crowd and be memorable. They must figure out their unique niche or their unique twist on that niche. They need to express themselves in ways that are both intriguing and memorable to prospective readers or clients.