Mentors as well as sponsors are crucial in your career. It is important to not only find good mentors in and outside of the company you work for, but it is also important to find sponsors who are willing to represent you in a good light when you are not present. In school we learn a lot about mentors, how to find a mentor and how to maintain the given relationship. Yet finding a sponsor, is something we are starting to hear more and more about. Mentors are great because they can give you advice about your career or life in general and it does not have to turn into a formal relationship, sometimes mentors do not even know that they are mentors. Now once we have one or multiple mentors that give us advice and suggestions how can one go about finding a sponsor? CNN Money published a great article with 5 steps on how to find a sponsor.
1. Build on a mentoring relationship
2. Identify higher-ups who inspire you
3. Whenever possible, let a potential sponsor see you in action
4. Suggest improvements in the way things get done
Now, these five steps make it seem easy enough, yet may be very daunting, especially approaching someone and asking them to become your sponsor. Sometimes people get scared off when you are asking them directly; therefore ensure that all of the necessary ground work is done before you go to the fifth suggestion. One crucial aspect to keep in mind when going sponsor hunting, is to make sure you truly understand what a sponsor is and why you need one on top of a mentor. Sponsors are senior people within your company who will put their credibility on the line to make you known in a room that you are not in. Sponsors will represent you in situations that you may not be able to access yet. They will speak up for you and help you receive that promotion/job that you have been working towards. As I previously stated, sponsors are senior people within a company, it is often daunting to talk to senior managers about being your sponsor, therefore take a look at the five steps above, apply them one after one and you may just find an amazing sponsor!
Please ladies, remember that just like your mentor a sponsor does not have to be another woman, there are lots of men out there who are excited about helping you to move forward! However, it is often encouraging to find a role model that is currently where you want to go.
Pia S. Matthes
Mount Holyoke College