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8 ways of building up your power base amongst your partners

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 Big4.com.

When your partners sit around the partnership table and discuss who they would like to make up to partner, how many partners are ‘fighting your corner’? You will not be there in person – so you need some powerful friends around the table looking after your interests.

So, how do you build up this power base? Particularly if you are part of a big firm?

1. Build up your internal and external market value

It’s a given that 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.

3. Talk to partners outside of your department

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 its new partners. 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…

You may find our FREE guide to building your personal networking strategy useful, email required.

4. Avoid having a fixed date in time when you have to be a partner

One of the faux-pas that many potential partners make is having a fixed idea of when they need to be a partner. Equity partners get incredibly cheesed off hearing that ‘so-and-so’ has to be a partner by next year. By all means have an ‘ideal timescale’ in your head, or a provisional loose timescale that you are publicly working towards. Just don’t go around telling partners that you will be a partner by this point in time… (For other tips and practical help on creating your personal business case for partnership, download our FREE guide to writing your personal business case for partnership.)

5. Go to firm socials

These normally give you great access to many of the firm’s partners who you would not normally bump into. Take the opportunity to talk to partners you don’t know at these events and also organise a 1:2:1 later.

6. Take an strong interest in them and their part of the practice

Almost treat your partners as if they are your best client – after all, they are probably the biggest stakeholder in your career right now.

7. Choose an influential mentor

I clearly remember working with the head of audit at my old firm. I was amazed how much influence and power this partner yielded. These are the people who can easily facilitate your path to partnership and ‘sell’ you to the other partners. (Who are these partners in your firm?) Sometimes just the association between the two of you is enough to get the partners to vote for you.

You may find our FREE (email required) guide for mentees useful reading to help you get the most out of your relationship with your mentor.

8. Find referrals for them

There is nothing quite like bringing in high quality referrals for other partners to generate a great fan base for you. Partners love work winners and in particular, work winners who bring in stuff for them personally.

You may find our FREE guide to building your personal networking strategy useful, email required.

In summary

If you are to successfully make the transition up to partnership, then you will need a fan base amongst the partners in your firm. (For other tips and practical help on creating your personal business case for partnership, download our FREE guide to writing your personal business case for partnership.)

Download our free six page guide, from our career kitbag, containing 13 tips to help you accelerate your career at a Big 4 firm

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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