Richard Flexer is a director of Brunel Professional Recruitment, a consultancy specialising in the recruitment of IP and Legal Professionals throughout the UK. Richard has a wealth of experience in recruiting senior level candidates for a number of the UK’s leading IP and legal practices.
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to fly up the career ladder whilst others always seem to be grappling with the snakes?
When looking at the salary information we gather what stands out most is the fact that some people get paid an awful lot more than others with seemingly similar levels of experience. This salary variance comes down to how individuals are perceived by managers and what these managers think of their ability to grow the business.
Within every organisation there are individuals who become marginalised, or sidelined in terms of progression and reward and these people can soon become ‘cheap brains’. Often these individuals have technical competence which is at least level with but normally far superior to their business winning colleagues and yet they are paid less.
So, how do you avoid slipping down the career snakes?
Technical competence is a ‘given’ when we are recruiting senior level candidates. It is what else they can bring to an organisation which is of real interest. As such, it is vital to have some business development or marketing ability to secure a good position in a growing organisation. Traditional business development or marketing activities can be thought of as a distraction by some and can also seem very daunting. As such, it slips down the priority list and is only ever given any thought in the few weeks every year just before appraisal time! These is where many people fall down and slowly but surely, start descending the career snake rather than climbing the ladders they intended.
Successful people make business development personal. Traditional business development activities such as business breakfasts or networking events are not going to be for everyone. The key is to find a way to highlight the strengths of both you and your firm in a way that feels natural to you. Try to be creative and think about the activities that you feel comfortable doing. Then find a way to market your firm and your services whilst doing one of these familiar activities.
So what sort of things am I talking about?
Well, we had one candidate who had a keen interest in clay pigeon shooting, so he arranged an open day at his local club and invited clients, or potential clients along. We even heard of one individual who offered flights in his hot air balloon to give him an opportunity to explain what he felt he could offer. All sorts of things have been tried in the past and nothing should be off limits. The trick is to just find something you are comfortable with and give it a go. The process of thinking through ideas, discussing it with colleagues, thinking about who you would invite and so on, is a major step in the right direction.
Business Development is as much a frame of mind as it is your actions. The first step for many may be as simple as devoting one hour a week to call all old clients to have a general conversation. Find something you have in common with them and talk about it! Again, it is about the state of mind and attitude. If you keep your head down be prepared to be side lined. If you have the right attitude, have some creative ideas and work through them logically and consistently, you will be surprised what you can achieve and before you know it, you will be climbing your chosen career ladder.
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