Want to advance your career, get a sponsor not another mentor.
I have had several great mentors who taught me new skills, gave great advice, and expanded my network. However, I felt like I was missing a key aspect to help my growth. Mentoring has its place in assisting you in your personal and professional goals, but there is also sponsorship which can take your career to the next level. In general, Women are over mentored and under sponsored.
So, what is the difference between the two and why should we focus on sponsorship?
A mentor will help you where you are, and a sponsor will get you to where you want to be.
A mentor can provide many benefits, but I primarily think of a mentor as someone who gives advice. They are someone you can go to for guidance, skills, and to recommend resources. Mentors are great for helping navigate the corporate ladder and can be a sounding board for situations that are uncomfortable or not appropriate to discuss with colleagues or management. Everyone should have a mentor but to really take your career to the next level, you need a sponsor.
A sponsor is in your corner advocating for you. They may give advice, but they are more interested in being a firm believer in your performance and sharing it with others. It is a mutually beneficial relationship as sponsoring you helps them reach their goals. For example, they can recommend candidates for new projects or positions allowing them to hit the ground running with a qualified team, and you get opportunities for advancement.
An example of a mentor versus a sponsor is when a mentor recommends and provides resources to give effective presentations, a sponsor will recommend to leaders that you should give the presentation.
Where can I find a Sponsor?
It is not always easy, but it can be done. Often the sponsor will find you, usually based on your performance. It is important to highlight key projects (respectfully) to others in the organization, keep your LinkedIn up to date, and network. Sponsors can be within your organization or outside your organization. The key factors in a great sponsor is they should be a couple levels higher than your current position and possess qualities you respect and admire. As mentorship has become part of work culture, we also need to be open to sponsoring others so we all can advance.
I have created a worksheet to help you determine where in your life you can benefit from a sponsor and how you can help sponsor others. Subscribe to our newsletter to get your FREE copy.