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8 brilliant ways to increase your profile

flourish 1200pxIn this article, Heather Townsend, co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ decodes what it means what you are told you need to increase your profile.

It’s a common piece of feedback that many aspiring partners or directors in large firms will get told. In a Big 4 or large firm, having a good profile leads to getting onto the plum assignments and being first in line for any promotions. In this blog post we examines what this means, and how do you go about increasing your profile?

Very simply a lack of profile means two things, either you are not visible to to your partners or you are perceived to not have a strong internal or external network. Given that if you want to make partner in a large or Big 4 firm you need to be visible (for the right reasons) to the partnership AND have a strong network, then having a decent profile is a non-negotiable.

Before you start thinking about improving your profile, it’s important that you consider exactly WHO you want to improve your profile with. Is it internally or externally or both? Do you need to build profile with your ideal clients or a network or introducers? Are there specific people that need to know about you and view you positively to help move your career forward?

Remember that being part of a large firm such as a global consultancy or Big 4 firm, you may need to build profile within your local market place AND your service line AND your sector team. It’s not enough to be just known in your local market place or your sector team. Given that you probably have little time for profile building the more specific you can get about who needs to know about you, the easier it is to effectively build your profile with them.

How to improve your ‘profile’

Tip 1: Put your head above the parapet

Very simply, if you get into work, and keep your head down and chomp through your work, your profile will suffer. Of course you need to hit your numbers but you need to build your profile as well.

A visible profile is more than just doing a good job.

When I returned from my two maternity leaves and went part time my profile really suffered. Not only had I been literally out of the business for 17 months in a period of 3 years, but I then returned to work as a part timer. Like many part timers I was given a portfolio of work which kept me very busy with little or no time to do anything else apart from the urgent work on my desk. I was not alone in falling into this trap. Many part-timers, or people who have to leave work at a certain time, often fall into this trap.

In a worst case scenario, this behaviour often leaves you at risk of being on the wrong side of a re-shuffle or reorganisation. (This happened to me!)

If you believe that I am exaggerating, think about how many part-timers or people on maternity leave are made redundant in reorganisations or head count reduction initiatives. Make sure you allocate some of your time to networking internally and externally, whether this is by stopping by a few people for a chat, or planning to meet colleagues for lunch.

Need to grow your profile to win more work? Then join our Go-To Expert System Programme to never have to worry about winning clients again.

Tip 2: Volunteer and contribute

One of the best ways to expand your internal and external network is to volunteer for high profile or cross department assignments. Given the nature of a Big 4 or large firm there are always opportunities to volunteer for jobs or projects which will bring you into contact with people outside of your immediate team. You just need to look and be open to opportunities.

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, organising a corporate social responsibility initiative etc. 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.

Tip 3: Talk to senior management

So many people put partners up on a pedestal, or decide that ‘they are too important to want to talk with me’. The partners have a big impact on your career – so why take the risk and be an unknown to them?

One of the times that you will be exposed to partners 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.

Tip 4: Use your lunch times

Your lunch breaks are a great time to expand and maintain your internal firm and external network. Make sure you do take a lunch break, but use it to have lunch with someone. Don’t fall into the trap of having lunch with the same people each day, or rushing through a sandwich at your desk. If you are out on a client’s site, why not plan to lunch with someone from the client?

You’ve also got more time than just lunch time to grow your profile. You can meet people for breakfast, coffee, lunch, afternoon tea AND an early evening meal.

Tip 5: Attend firm social events

You need to turn up to company or firm social events – whether this is informal drinks after work, or a big firm summer party. If you are like me and have never really enjoyed this kind of thing, give yourself a time limit to spend at the event, and then you can leave. Plus give yourself a goal to achieve at the event. This may help to give the social event some purpose for you.

Tip 6: Attend meetings

Meetings can be a huge waste of your time. However, they are a great way of being seen for the right reasons – particularly if you contribute positively to the debate.

Need to grow your profile to win more work? Then join our Go-To Expert System Programme to never have to worry about winning clients again.

Tip 7: 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

Tip 8: Seek out PR opportunities

Getting quoted in magazine and journal articles is a great way to grow your profile. If your firm uses a PR agency find out how you can get your articles or quotes into the press. Another way to get journalists to contact you is to follow and talk to them on twitter whilst sharing relevant and great content.

Need more clients? Then join our Go-To Expert System Programme to never have to worry about winning clients again.

This article originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner website.

About Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend helps professionals become the 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’, Poised for partnership and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 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 and works with future and current Big 4 partners and professionals from mid-tier firms all over the world

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