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5 typical mistakes aspiring partners make when going for partnership

Guest blog by Heather Townsend, co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ and author of ‘FT Guide To Business Networking‘, and guest blogger for

There are many reasons why your application for partnership is not accepted. Here are the five most common mistakes aspiring partners make when they apply for admission to the partnership.

1. Not building up a fan base in the partnership

Only partners, understandably, have the right to sit and vote at the partnership table. Your partners will, behind closed doors and without consulting your opinion, discuss whether or not you are a suitable person to join the partnership. The more vocal supporters of your cause, the greater the likelihood that you will get the right result from the vote. Unsurprisingly the stronger your power base within the partners of your firm, the less it matters as to what you have written in your personal business case for partnership.

2. Writing their personal business case in isolation

Your personal business case for partnership, needs to be written in consultation with not just the partners in your department but partners across the firm. Depending on how your partnership admissions process works, you may find that all or a fixed amount of partners needs to give you the thumbs up. Consequently, the more partners who feel as if they have had a say in your business case and have been involved in the writing of it, the stronger the chance that you get the green light. Particularly if those partners are the movers, shapers and groovers! (For more help with your personal business case, download our free guide to writing your personal business case for partnership, email required)

3. Setting a fixed time frame for when they will make partner

No one can with any degree of certainty predict what will happen in the marketplace. In times of economic hardship firms tend to reduce their partnership numbers rather than admit new, potentially untried partners. Additionally, there may be better and stronger candidates for partnership ahead of you. Which are two reasons why equity partners generally get very annoyed when ‘young whippersnappers’ decide on when they are going to make partner. By all means set a general timeframe, just make sure it’s not a ‘fixed, must be this year’, type of timeframe.

When the partners add in a new equity partner, they are in effect sharing equity in the firm with the newly promoted partner. Consequently, it will always be their decision, not your decision when you will make partner. Don’t forget this!

4. Becoming over-fixated on their technical ability

When you become a partner you move from being employed to self-employed and become an owner of the firm. As a result, it is no longer about your technical ability, it’s about your ability to grow the firm, build & lead a team, win clients and bring something extra to the partnership.

5. Not spending enough time on putting together their personal business case for partnership

Your personal business case for partnership is not something you can dash off in an evening. Ideally you want to be working on this at least 18-24 months before you want to be admitted to the partnership. To help you form your business case, you want to complete a series of conversations with partners inside and outside of your department, to canvas their opinions on your personal business plan.

If you are thinking or writing your personal business case for partnership, then download our FREE guide to writing your personal business case, email required.

What help has your firm given you with your personal business case?

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Author Credit

Heather Townsend helps professionals become the Go-To-Expert. She is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’ and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 1000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices.

Heather blogs regularly at How to make partner and still have a life

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