Having professional sponsors is crucial for your career advancement.
At recent events that I attended, the essential role sponsors play in our career advancement has been discussed and promoted. My motivation for writing on how to find sponsors increased following the feedback I received after I shared my insights from WIL Conference 2018 in a recent blog post.
In this post, I will share some valuable information and tips I found during my research on who a sponsor is, benefits of having sponsors and effective ways to find sponsors. This post is very personal as I recently did not get a promotion I deserved and worked hard for because I did not have sponsors that supported me during the process. I am taking the opportunity to act and find my sponsors.
Starting point - We women need sponsors to be successful in our careers.
Let's start by looking at some facts:
Who is a sponsor?
There are many definitions of sponsors and the roles they play. These are some that resonated with me:
What is the difference between a mentor and a sponsor?
Sponsors and mentors are a very crucial part of our professional journey. It is key to understand that they serve different purposes. The following points outline some differences between mentors and sponsors:
How can sponsors support you?
Here are some ways sponsors can provide value and support you on your professional journey.
Increase your advancement opportunities
Advancement and progress in our careers keeps us motivated and happy. Good sponsors help you advance by speaking out for you when it matters the most. During my research, I found some statistics that support the point that women with sponsors are more likely to advance in their careers: (Source: Don’t Just Mentor Her, Sponsor Her).
Assists you in navigating the complexity of your organization and industry
Our professional journey is very complex. Imagine how much further you can go if you have someone within your company that helps you navigate complexity. Especially as women of color, we should get all the support we need. Research from the Center for Talent Innovation shows that the vast majority of women (85 percent) and multicultural professionals (81 percent) need navigational help. (Source: Big Idea 2014: Find a Sponsor Who Believes In Your Potential). Get all the support you can get on your journey.
What do I need to do to find effective sponsors?
As with everything we desire, we need to act to get the outcomes we want. The tips below serve as a starting point to get you started on your journey.
To make yourself desirable for a sponsor there are some things you can start learning to do and practicing. It is essential for you to know what you bring to the table.
Search for sponsors
When search for a sponsor it is essential for them to be a fit and can support you in the ways you need them to. There are many ways to begin your search for sponsors as outlined below:
Build your relationship with your sponsors
Building your relationship with your sponsors is essential. You would want to meet with your sponsors regularly. I would recommend at least every quarter. As with every relationship find the right frequency that works best for you and your sponsors.
Offer your sponsors something
Sponsors will need to invest some time with you, make it valuable for them. Think of ways you can give back to your sponsor for example:
For your self-study, I am sharing links to all the articles referenced in this post: