You Look Too Young to Be a Rainmaker

As you claw your way up the firm ladder, you will encounter numerous obstacles. Some are internal: partners who steal your originations or firm rhetoric that demands you develop business with too little incentive or time to make it worth your while. But in the early years, your biggest challenge will be your appearance. You may dread the gray but a little aging suggests the kind of experience and credibility that clients expect from a trusted advisor. Then there’s the problem with your network—few of your cohorts are ready to engage you at the level you would like.

Of course, time will eventually solve some of these problems, but in the meantime, use these three strategies to accelerate your burgeoning momentum:

  1. Turn your youth into an advantage. When describing your practice, emphasize your techpreneur client base or your passion for working with start-ups. Use the right messaging to turn your generational position into a boon.
  2. Focus on the firm. You may not have a long list of accomplishments to boast just yet, but you can always talk up your esteemed colleagues.
  3. Co-author with your mentors. You won’t have to look hard to find a senior, established partner happy to lend their name to a co-authored article, as long as you do most of the heavy lifting. Ride their coattails into notoriety.

So the next time you get the feeling you are being underestimated, use these strategies to tip the scales. With a little creativity and proactivity, an ambitious rising star can fast-track their book of business.


Authored by David Ackert

One response to “You Look Too Young to Be a Rainmaker

  1. In their seminal work on positioning, Al Ries and Jack Trout taught us that every product attribute has a positive and negative component, based on the eye of the beholder. For every person who perceives gray hair and long experience as an asset, there are others who see it as staid, stodgy, or hidebound. For every person who sees IBM as the safe choice, there are others who see it as behind the times, out of date.

    Identify a psychographic profile (the mindset/attitude version of a demographic profile) of people for whom youth is considered an advantage.

    My late mother, while in her 70s, favored younger doctors, perceiving them as more up-to-date with modern methods vs. “crusty older doctors” trapped in the past. It doesn’t matter whether or not it was objectively true; it was true for her. Perception is reality.

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