A rainmaker is any person who brings clients, money, business, or even intangible prestige to an organization based solely on his or her associations and contacts. The rainmaker is usually regarded highly within the company by other employees and is a key figure like a principal, partner, or executive. The term is sometimes used in the context of political fundraising as well.

Examples of Rainmakers

Traditionally, the term "rainmaker" has been applied to members of the legal profession, like politicians with law degrees who retire from public life to practice at nationally recognized law firms. However, over time, the term has gained usage in many other industries and activities, including investment banking, political campaigning, and public speaking.

Key Takeaways

  • A rainmaker is a person who brings clients, business, and money to their firm.
  • A retired politician with a large following and the ability to raise campaign funds for others is also a rainmaker.
  • The term is often used in the legal profession, but also business, investment banking, and entertainment.
  • Technically, a rainmaker can exist in any part of any business.
  • An individual that brings real, positive change to an organization is a rainmaker.

For example, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's association with the environmental movement prompted numerous venture capital firms to add Gore as a partner in hopes that his "rainmaking" abilities would help them raise hundreds of millions of dollars for alternative energy initiatives.

In everyday usage, the term "rainmaker" can apply to anyone–from the salesperson who always books the most sales to the marketing guru who consistently finds innovative ways to present a company's products. In the purest sense, a rainmaker is a difference-maker, someone capable of turning the tide when things get rough, or bringing new money or accounts to the business that other people could not.

Sectors of Business

Technically, a rainmaker can exist in any part of any business, but the phrase is most commonly applied to people with the ability to make significant change in a few key sectors:

Politics: The rainmakers in politics are usually less visible, but the phrase can apply to past officeholders who hold connections to wealth and political power. Someone who can sway a vote is considered a rainmaker, as is a personality that can bring large crowds to a fundraising event.

Corporate Business: Business is the sector where the term is most commonly used. It is usually given to partners or associates (usually in legal teams) that possess the connections or ability to foster connections that bring significant business to the company or firm. Rainmakers in business are defined by their ability to come through with big clients and to motivate existing clients to spend more money.

Entertainment: The entertainment rainmaker is similar to the business rainmaker, but their focus is a bit different. In entertainment, talent is the most valuable commodity, which is why rainmakers in the entertainment business are individuals who are able to secure talent. A good example would be a stadium being able to book a headlining act like Ed Sheeran when his schedule is fully committed, or knowing how to get Michael Jordan involved in a charity event.

The Bottom Line

A rainmaker is someone who can bring real, positive change to an organization. Although born in business, the term applies to anyone with the unique capabilities of making business, money, or connections appear out of seemingly nowhere.