It's a safe bet that if you ask a coworker or acquaintance to mentor you, you'll get a positive response. People with a few gray hairs are typically glad to share their hard-earned experiences and serve as a sounding board as you negotiate professional issues as long as the time commitment is appropriate.
However, if you change the subject to asking someone to be your sponsor, the stakes are significantly higher. Suddenly, there's a lot more on the line, and both sides have higher expectations. While there is near-universal approval for the concept of corporate sponsorship — such programs promote employee engagement and aid in talent development – the demand for such programs appears to be greater than the supply.
Even if your company doesn't have an official sponsorship program, that doesn't mean you won't be able to find a sponsor; it just means you'll have to go it alone. Because a sponsor relationship is more complicated than a mentor relationship, it's essential to spell out each party's responsibilities.
A sponsor is someone who is a few rungs higher on the organizational ladder than you, who can keep an eye out for opportunities for you and put in a good word for you. They are willing and able to expand their influence to assist you in progress because they want to invest in your success. They give you visibility, open doors, and influence others to bet on you. They open your eyes to possibilities and challenge you to take on stretch assignments.
They may be doing it because it's part of their job — in some organizations, each member of the C-suite leadership team may be assigned to sponsor a high-potential employee and held partially responsible for their performance. Alternatively, they may be doing it because they are devoted to assisting future leaders' development.
Such connections may be highly beneficial for both parties and help you to get a sponsorship advance in your profession. People at the top of their careers frequently tell stories about how they got significant breaks because someone taking a chance on them and assist them to the rising.
The key to an effective sponsorship relationship is trust, and that doesn't happen overnight. It takes explicit conversations about expectations and deliberate effort.
Here are six steps you can take to attract the attention of an influential sponsor:
First and foremost, a good performance is required. If you're not going above and above in your role, you can't expect a sponsor to advocate for you and put their reputation on the line to speak up on your behalf.
2. Know Who the Good Sponsors Are
It may not be easy, but try to find the leaders in your organization who have a track record of developing and scouting talent. Listen for leaders who openly praise subordinates, stand by them on controversial matters, and provide complex jobs to newcomers who have not yet shown themselves. That's the kind of person you want on your side.
3. Raise Your Hand for Exposure Opportunities
When a sponsor doesn't know the quality of your work or what you're capable of, you can't ask them to put their reputation on the line. So, seek a particular project that directly benefits one of the potential sponsors you identified in the previous stage, or try to join one of their special task forces or committees. The sponsor should see you in action and get a sense of the level of work you can do.
4. Make Your Value Visible
Whatever you do, don't be the company's best-kept secret! Make your accomplishments evident to your bosses once you've accomplished something exceptional.
If you happen to run into a possible cafeteria line sponsor, for example, inquire about their well-being. They are likely to ask you the same question, so prepare a sound bite about a recent accomplishment so you may say, "I'm doing fine." I just found out that I got the nomination for engineer of the year!"
Also, rewrite your elevator speech so that you highlight your leadership abilities and the value you provide to your company every time you introduce yourself.
5. Have Clear Career Goals
You must be sure of your career objectives! If you don't know what you want for yourself, it's unlikely that a sponsor will learn what chances to connect you with.
6. Share Your Career Goals With Your Leaders
Sharing your professional goals with your manager, mentors, and leaders can often be enough to win their support if you have a track record of good performance.
So what are you waiting for? Use these six items as a checklist to determine what action to take, and grab the attention of an influential sponsor! Learn more advice for any self-development topics and consult with us! Also, follow us at Instagram @baikgp and @ayureadypodcast for more information and extra insights!