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Finding out how to make partner when there is no formal partnership admissions process

bigstock-Cinema-tickets-48888788Heather Townsend, co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ and The Go-To Expert, examines how to make partner when there is no open and transparent process.

Some firm don’t have a formal process for admitting new partners. So is there any way you can work on a plan to make partner?  Of course there is! And in this post, we’ll show you how.

Why wouldn’t a firm have a formal partnership process?  Sometimes, it’s as simple as they haven’t yet had the need for one, or perhaps there has been a recent merger and systems are still settling down. Other times, it’s very secretive and for those in-the-know only, with even the potential partners not aware they are being considered! My clients have experienced all of these situations, and it’s not difficult to think it’s impossible to break through if you can’t find out which boxes need ticking.

Take heart, however, because there is always a process, even if it’s as vague as “it’s just the way we do things around here.”

Demonstrate the ability to attract and maintain a profitable partner-sized client portfolio

Existing partners will be far more willing to share the partnership with someone who is going to bring in lucrative business.  Developing a strong personal brand, by becoming the Go-To Expert for something is a good signal that you have a convincing case to be made up to partner.

It’s not unknown for firms to make partners from within the practice’s management departments, especially if they are going to be able to give better results by being privy to partnership discussions. How to make partner without a client background is discussed in another post.

In either case, partners will be looking for you to demonstrate an active commitment to build up your client portfolio. You can do this by working on a marketing plan. [insert box to marketing plan guide download]

Become trusted to own and run a slice of the firm

If you already run an area of the firm, or are being lined up to replace a retiring partner, these are clear signs that the firm trusts you.  Strengthen your case for partnership by seeking out management and leadership opportunities.

Develop and lead a team to service the work that you win

When a partner is heading towards retirement, they start to look for a successor to take over their role. If you can demonstrate that you can take up the reins, you will find you start to be thought of as partner even before you are made up to one.

Work well with the existing partners

You need votes to get to partner. The vote might not have to be unanimous, but no partnership will take on someone who is likely to cause division within the existing team.  You need to get on with, and be respected by, as many existing partners as possible.

Show that you are committed to the firm long term

Partners need to walk the talk – demonstrate total commitment to the firm’s vision and long term success.  Make sure that you show that you have this commitment and that you are always thinking about the needs of the firm.  This attitude will be a key part of your case for partnership.

Above all

When you firm doesn’t have a formal partnership track, you need to work subtly to bring your name to partners’ attention as someone who is going to bring in business, be a safe pair of hands, a great colleague, and who is going to care for the firm right into the future. In short – the perfect new partner.

Further Reading

  1. 5 ways of increasing your odds of making it through partnership track
  2. What do you need to put in your business case for partnership?
  3. What’s the emotional part of my business case for partnership?

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

Author Credit

GTE thumbnail_100Heather 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’ 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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