How to be seen as a Member of the Club
The most common mistake that potential partners make with their business case is that they get over-fixated on technical content and technical ability.
Making partner is about more than technical ability!
You need to be winning regular work and thinking commercially to be even considered as partner material.
2. Create strong relationships with the influential groups of partners
Within any firm will be influential groups of partners AND individuals who wield much more power than their title, status, or responsibilities suggest. Part of your remit when on Partner Track is to understand who these partners are and the political sensitivities of the partnership. At this stage in your career, it is less about your technical excellence and more about who you know and how they view you.
3. Build up a strong network with the junior partner population plus the next generation of partners
One of the best ways of being seen as ‘one of us’ is to build your profile within the junior partner population and the people who are likely to make partner before you. Then as they progress further up the partnership ladder, they can take you with them.
4. Make your partners’ lives easier
Building up trust between you and your partners is not normally based on big gestures. It’s often about the little interactions and conversations you have with them. For example, do your actions demonstrate that you understand the daily pressures and stresses they are under? I.e. Do you do what is in your power to make their lives easier?
Just think for a moment. What information are your partners interested in daily, weekly or monthly? And why do you think they require this information from you? Who do you think is requesting information from them or putting pressure on them? How much easier do you think you could make their life if you got them this information without having to be asked? And how much do you think your personal standing with them would increase as a result of doing this?
Making your partners’ lives easier is not about always saying yes to them. It’s about understanding the pressure they are under and doing what you can to help alleviate this pressure and reduce the number of things they need to do. For example, if you know your partner is good at sitting on work until it becomes urgent, how about asking them weekly if there is anything you can take off their hands to reduce their workload?
5. Turn up as the authentic YOU
Most of the partners in your firm will spend time together socially as well as professionally. They see each other as friends as well as colleagues. This means, if you want to be part of their exclusive private club, they need to like you and want to spend time with you.
In the days when consultants were expected to travel regularly, many consultancies would apply the airport test to a potential new recruit. In other words, would it be enjoyable to spend a long layover in an airport with this person? Your partners will be considering a simple test for you when they consider you joining the partnership. Would they enjoy spending hours in your company? Will getting to know you be a pleasurable experience? Will it be fun to hang out with you at the partner-only conferences and away days?
When you are being true to yourself and congruent with who you are, i.e. authentic, you are more likeable, trustworthy, and easier to relate to. Therefore, if you want to help build trust and social relationships with your partners, ahead of getting into the partnership, you need to turn up to work as your authentic self.
How to grow your profile within the partnership while still being authentic to who you are
This recording will help you to learn what gets you noticed positively, what are the real career-limiting behaviours you need to avoid, how to deal with politics and get the most from your sponsor and mentor.
6. Work on your Reputation
A good way of examining the current state of your reputation is to do the following:
- Examine what is expected of a high performer at your level in your firm and how well you match up.
- Consider the recurring messages you get from your appraisals and formal or informal feedback.
- Ask your sponsoring partner, line manager or mentor what others say about you when you are not in the room.
Once you have identified that there is a problem, you need to decide whether this is worth fixing. I.e. What is the extent of the problem? Could this derail your chances of making partner? For example, if you are getting regular feedback from more than a couple of partners that you are very unlikely to make partner in this firm, it’s time to consider increasing your employability so you can move firms. If the problem is limited to just one or two people, and as long as these are not people like your sponsoring partner or your firm’s managing partner, then it is probably worth investing in mending your reputation.
When it comes to fixing your reputation, you need to understand what behaviours you need to eliminate and what you need to replace them with. At the same time, it is worth understanding what has prompted these behaviours or reputation in the first place. Has it come about because of how you work? Or whether the way you work fits your particular firm? A good way to understand this is by getting plenty of feedback. When you examine that feedback carefully, also ask yourself, ‘Am I in the right place?’ You will never be able to be at your best if the way you normally work or want to work is counter-cultural for your firm.