Learn how to network with partners; including the Managing Partner of a Big-3 firm.
Networking is nuanced. We do not think a manual can be written for it. Each client is different and each interaction for a client will be different. That is why we audio and video recorded the networking process so you could see the level of specific actions needed by Felix and Sanjeev. No generic set of advice can apply to everyone. By seeing why we did what we did, you can learn to apply the same logic to your own networking.
We find the best networking relationship with a client is when we have real-time oversight of their networking. That means we are getting daily if not hourly updates, and sometimes updates during the networking discussion. We can then guide them as needed. Felix was very good at this. We really were involved closely with her. Sanjeev much less so. He usually updated us a week after a networking discussion thereby making it difficult to provide practical advice. The trail was usually cold by this point.
In this program, networking emails and responses are stored and annotated with the coach’s feedback. Candidates, especially Felix, were encouraged to network with partners only. They faced bumps and roadblocks in the process due to stringent language requirements. Watch how Felix opens a dialogue with the Managing Partner after her application is initially rejected.
This allowed Felix to build confidence and begin obtaining a referral. All the more important when recruiting managers are tougher to engage. Learn to network with partners by watching how the candidates did it. There are audio and video recordings where we help candidates understand the networking process and overcome the networking challenges they will inevitably face.
Why is this important: Networking with partners is much easier than networking with associates/analysts/recruiters. Partners are friendlier and it is their role to find outstanding talent. If you engage them correctly, the results will be immediate.
A recruiter can merely compare your profile against the requirements of the firm. They cannot and will not evaluate your resume in that call, nor will they commit themselves to anything. They cannot commit themselves to anything since the final decision is that of the partner. That is why most applicants find networking with recruiters frustrating. The recruiter can merely offer positive encouragement and offer the applicant to submit a complete package.
Most aspiring consultants misunderstand the role of the recruiter. The recruiter can only compare you against the predetermined needs of the firm. If you are an unusual profile, not necessarily weaker, and your fit is difficult to gauge, a recruiter will decline you. It is rarely their job to change the recruiting profile of the firm. Their job is to execute the recruiting needs of the partnership. That is why unusual profiles struggle to get past recruiters or junior consultants.
This is particularly true in the case of PhDs who tend to have unrelated experiences. Felix was studying the biological sciences and needed to prove her ability to seamlessly transition. Sanjeev and Rafik also faced obstacles. They needed to prove they had the necessary skills and interest to join a particular office outside their home country. This is always tough for candidates and recruiters prefer to be cautious in this regard. They have no choice.
Associates/analysts/managers are in a similar position. The best way to use associates/analysts/managers is to become comfortable with the networking process and learn about the workings of a particular office. It is initially wise to start networking with the level you plan to enter and only when you become more comfortable networking with this level, move to partners.
Finally, associates/analysts/managers are good for understanding the workings of a particular office. They rarely have the full experience and exposure to comment on other offices or even the region. Therefore, it is best to not extrapolate one associate’s experience across the firm. At most, an associate will have about 8 engagements of substance completed which means their primary value is in discussing their bottom-up view on studies.
Networking with partners is a high return / high risk strategy. This is exactly what happened to Felix. She contacted the Worldwide Managing Partner and he gave her a direct and truthful view of the main obstacle she would face in making an application. This is enormously valuable because Felix could then immediately focus on fixing this gap, which she is now doing – a wise decision at the end of the day. Imagine how much wasted time is taken to get truthful information: reading multiple blogs, networking with different people, holding multiples calls etc., and you are still not sure of the path to take. Easily days of wasted time. A partner discussion cuts through this. It is the most efficient way to network.