Following on from last week’s blog post on what you need to do before you start writing your personal business case for partnership, we are now considering in this 2 part blog post, a vital step to making partner and achieving this last hurdle – building up your fan base with the partners in your firm.
When your partners sit around the partnership table and discuss either formally or informally who they would like to make up to partner, how many partners would be ‘pitching’ you, and ‘fighting your corner’? Like a panel based job interview, you will not be at the table when the final decisions are taken on who should get partnership this time. This is why you need to have built up a strong fan base within the partnership BEFORE you are considered for admission to the partnership.
Within your fan base you will always have degrees of support. At the lowest level you want to have built enough relationships with partners within your firm so that they know who you are, and are ideally positive about you becoming a partner. However, you will need to have more than just your head of department and sponsoring partner (who are likely to be the same people) raving about you to the other partners. How many advocates you need at the partnership table is not a question that can be answered with any degree of certainty – however, it is suffice to say that a good answer is ‘the more the merrier’.
So, how do you build up this fan base? Particularly if you are part of a big firm?
1. Build up your internal and external market value
Before you can even plan your assault to the partnership table your client work needs to have done some of the talking for you. Your financials need to be strong, and clients need to be saying good things about you. i.e. you need to be in demand both by partners in the firm and clients external to the firm.
2. Take part in cross-firm initiatives and projects
There are always opportunities to get involved in cross firm projects outside of your client work. Do choose carefully, and aim to be present on committees, steering groups, projects or even assignments where you will get to increase your internal network and contact with key influential partners. (Find out in this article what other stuff you will need to make time for if you are going to progress your career.)
3. Talk to partners outside of your department
Gasp, yes – you are going to need to create the time to go and get to know partners outside of your department. Do take this opportunity to ask them about what the practice needs in it’s new partners. Do find out how they could see you fitting into the partnership and what skills they believe you would need to develop. Get their views on your personal business case. There is no stronger advocate than a partner who feels that they have had a say in your personal business case… This article on ‘how to tell your partners you want to go for partnership‘ may help you structure your conversations with your partners.