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How to build a strong and positive relationship with your sponsoring partner

I’ve recently written a series of articles about the support team you need when you are on partnership track. One of the most important roles in this team is your sponsoring partner. He or she is the person who will recommend you for partnership, and if your relationship is broken down, or weak, you might as well kiss goodbye to your chances of partnership in that firm.

It’s crucial to have a great relationship with your sponsoring partner, and here are some tips for how to do it.

LeadershipBe aware of their personal agenda

Every partner has to juggle other people’s wants and needs: their personal agenda, other partner’s agendas, the firm’s agenda, their team members’ agendas. Not all of these agendas may be aligned!

You need to understand the competing demands on their time and attention, as well as appreciating what stresses and dramas they might be juggling behind the scenes.  The less you are a drain and the more you are a support to them, the more kindly they’ll view you. So, getting yourself in alignment with their complicated situations is going to pay off.

Communicate, communicate, and communicate

It’s common for people on partnership track to be wary of speaking too frankly about their aspirations and concerns.  While I advise having a personal coach for airing a lot of these issues, I also strongly advise you to trust your sponsoring partner and be as open as you can. Helping your sponsoring partner to understand you will strengthen the relationship and help him or her to remove any blocks that may be in your way. It doesn’t need to be onerous – aim for a 10 minute chat once a quarter.

Know how to manage them

Managing upwards is an important skill for everyone.  Make sure you know how your sponsoring partner likes to work – from writing style to communication preferences to taking decisions. Then make sure you fit with the way they like to work.

Find ways to help them

Become indispensable to your sponsoring partner by looking out for ways you can help take some of the load off their shoulders.  You’ll make their lives that little bit easier, and increase the chances of them making a positive recommendation about you.

Your sponsoring partner is your main advocate to making partner.  Working on a strong and supportive relationship is vital for your success. Without it, your career progression may stall permanently.

These tips are taken from my latest book, Poised For Partnership. It includes many more tried and tested strategies to help you negotiate partnership track successfully.

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

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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