Adele Lemlek recently moderated a panel hosted by The New York City Bar Association, entitled How to Get on the ‘Grooming for Partnership’ List. The panel was comprised of three professionals presenting three different perspectives: Aliza Herzberg, Lead Partner, Employment Law Practices Group at Olshan Frome Wolosky LLP; Michele Moorman, Associate Director of People Development at White & Case LLP; and Joi Bourgeois, Vice President & Director of Business Development at Greiner Consulting.
The panelists offered their insights on the importance of relationships inside and outside the firm, noting that relationships are the key to everything, including the key to your own power. Relationships are the anchor that keep “keepers” in the game, and once someone reaches their midlevel associate years, the right relationships are much more important than technical excellence. Attorneys were advised to build consequential relationships both internally and externally, and connect meaningfully with partners who matter. Key takeaways included the following:
1. Be patient. Relationships take time to grow. The process of building relationships is organic – it is not step-by-step, and there’s no blueprint. Relationships need to be carefully cultivated with clients and prospects; often, it’s “no” for now but not forever. This is a long-term game.
2. Be positive and resilient, and stay focused on the future. Be ready to bounce back from minor or momentary setbacks.
3. Be a student. Model your behavior after successful partners to whom you can relate.
4. Be focused. Stay in the mindset of building, and allow yourself to be carried by natural momentum without becoming stuck on certain targets – e.g., businesses or contacts that initially seem quite promising, but ultimately, are not.
5. Be fearless. Take leaps and embrace the unknown. You never know where someone will lead you, or what the process will be.
6. Be externally focused. Be generous, giving, and responsive to friends, colleagues and clients.
7. Be goal-oriented. Focus on getting to “yes.”
8. Be a connector. Constantly think of how you can connect others, because it’s helpful to them, as well as to you in the long run.
9. Be authentic. Share with others that which you truly care about, promote your genuine strengths and communicate and interact in your own voice.
10. Be unafraid of standing out from the crowd. Become known for something. It will surely pay off in new friends and contacts in business.