A simple Google search on “mentoring” brings up hundreds, if not thousands, of mentoring schemes. There are In-company schemes, government funded schemes, not for profit mentoring programs and countless articles proffering advice on how to find a mentor. However, Cecilia Harvey, Founder of Tech Women Today, believes that finding a sponsor is actually more important when it comes to working your way upwards in an organization.
The role of a mentor can range from someone within your own company who can show you the ropes and serve as an advisor, to someone unconnected with your company but has experience and knowledge that they are willing to share.
A sponsor, in comparison, is someone that is within your organisation, and who is in a position to further your career path. This could be someone who actually has the power to promote you, or somebody who is willing to put you forward and sing your praises. They can influence others in your organisation, and will openly put this power into helping you.
Without a sponsor, you can spend years working hard and wondering why someone who hasn’t put in the same hours and effort gets promoted over you. The reason is that they probably had someone who spoke up for them. Taking someone under your wing and helping their career progression isn’t just altruistic, it’s about demonstrating leadership by recognizing and nurturing new talent and that makes sponsors look good.
Take the steps to finding a sponsor by adopting the following process:
#Connect: Who are the potential sponsors in your organization? They need to be in a position of influence and respect, but you also should feel that you can approach them. Try to develop strong professional relationships with many key senior stakeholders.
#Ask: Ask potential sponsors what you can do to demonstrate your value to the organization? What are some projects that you can get involved in? What do you need to do to show that you should be promoted? Who are the key people that you need to impress in order to get promoted?
#Demonstrate. Impress potential sponsors through your work, driving through projects and standing out. Initiate conversations and let them know who you are, and how you can help the business.