Building Relationships Within Your Firm
Very simply, if you get into work, and keep your head down and chomp through your work and go home your profile will suffer. No-one will know who you are!
Here are some great ways to start building your internal network. Be brave, and tackle a different one every month. This isn’t a one-off activity, it has to be a sustained effort on your part. You’ll soon see your profile rising within your firm.
One of the best ways to expand your internal and external network is to volunteer for high profile or cross department assignments. What can you get involved with in the next few months? What’s coming up? Speak to your partner and tell them you’d like to be considered.
If you want to grow your profile you need to be prepared to put your hand out and volunteer for stuff outside of your normal day-to-day workload.
There are normally many ways for you to contribute to your firm. This could be standing on the social committee, supplying articles for the department’s newsletter or intranet, writing a blogspot for the website, organising or getting involved in a corporate social responsibility initiative etc.
So many people put senior management up on a pedestal, or decide that ‘they are too important to want to talk with me’. Your boss’s boss has a big impact on your career – so why take the risk and be an unknown to him or her?
One of the times that you will be exposed to senior management is in big staff briefings, workshops or communication sessions. Do be brave and be prepared to diplomatically express your real views – particularly when tough questions are being asked, e.g. how good is morale at the moment?
I was recently listening to a very senior Big 4 partner speak about the ‘listening’ sessions they would run for staff at each level of the firm. It appears the more senior the group the less people were prepared to ask questions or speak up. They couldn’t shut the recent graduates, but struggled to get the senior managers and directors to ask many questions.
Be positive and enthusiastic
Most people like working with positive and enthusiastic people – and want them to be part of their team. Wouldn’t you like to be first in line when people are picking teams? Be careful not to cultivate a negative reputation – e.g. for moaning, finding problems but not suggesting solutions etc
Get feedback little and often – and then ACT on it
Far too many people have throttled their career progression by not getting regular feedback from all their key stakeholders. Having poor self-awareness will hold your career back. Having been around the professions for 10 years now, everyone knows that each person has different strengths, weaknesses and particular eccentricities. In fact, people are fairly forgiving of most eccentricities, as long as it doesn’t impact client service. What people don’t forgive is when you receive feedback about your performance and you don’t act on this feedback.
Let the partners know when you get positive feedback
When you do get positive feedback, especially from clients, do forward it to your assignment manager or appraising partner. One of the worst career crimes you can do in a partnership is hide your light under a bushel.