5 tips to make partner

Your mentor and/or sponsoring partner can literally make or break your transition from senior associate/director through to making partner. Based on our recent experiences of helping our client successfully get appointed to a partnership position in a top 6 firm in the UK, here are 5 tips your sponsoring partner and/or mentor can help you get through the partnership admissions process to make partner.

1. Interview practice

Every partnership admissions process is different. However most of them will involve an interview of some form or other. As our client found it was incredibly helpful to have practice interviews with his sponsoring partner before he went into the interview. As a result he was literally word perfect when it came to the interview.

2. They can influence on your behalf

When I asked our client about the probing his business case received from the partners in his panel interview, he told me very little. This is not my normal experience for a panel interview. What it suggests, and my client agreed with me, that his sponsoring partner had done a great PR campaign and influenced the firm’s partners about the need for his business case. With the ground work which his sponsoring partner had put in, my client had very little justification to do to prove his business case.

3. They can be totally honest with you

All too often difficult conversations don’t happen in professional service firms. I’ve been there in a post assessment centre debrief with a sponsoring partner and his potential partner, only to find the sponsoring partner say to me,

We didn’t think he would get through as he was rated 3 (performing as expected) in his current role.

As you can expect this potential partner crashed and burned at the assessment centre. It did his career no good to do so badly at the assessment centre. The role of his sponsoring partner should have been to have the difficult conversation with this person to tell him he wasn’t ready. Having an honest and critical friend in the form of your mentor of sponsoring partner is vital to help you truly understand your strengths and weaknesses, plus whether you are ready for partnership track. It is better to have someone honestly tell you that you are not ready – or may not ever be ready – than put yourself through a tough ordeal and deal with the damage to your self esteem and confidence afterwards.

As well as telling you whether you are ready or not, what they can also do is give you good guidance about how to sell yourself to the partnership in a way which will help them want you as part of the club.

If you are not getting this level of insight from your mentor AND sponsoring partner, then you need to be asking them these sorts of detailed questions.

4. They can help you put together your business case

Your mentor and/or sponsoring partner is not responsible for writing your business case. However your sponsoring partner is often responsible for signing off on your business case. This means that they are often putting their reputation on the line to say that they support your business case. Therefore, make sure you tap into their expertise to ensure that you have added the correct phrases and ‘hot buttons’ to your business case which will make the other partners consider you a good choice for partner.

5. They can connect you to the key influencers in the partnership

In other articles within this blog I have talked about consulting with other partners across the firm to get their views on your business and personal case for partnership. Your mentor and sponsoring partner should be able to introduce you to the key partners who you need to get on side to make you a sure bet for partnership.

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