Career sponsors can be game-changers

A career sponsor can be a game-changer for you and your career. However, that person is not always easy to find and align with.
Career sponsors are more than mentors. Sponsor not only encourage and guide you (like a mentor), they may also leverage their relationships, network or position to open doors, set up meetings or create meaningful connections for you. I refer to this as “someone who leverages their social capital with your professional goals in mind.”
When sharing the benefits of aligning with sponsors and other types of career catalysts, many professionals ask where the best place is to find a sponsor. 
Connecting with an impactful
career sponsor

It starts with you. Identifying potential career sponsors depends on what you are looking to impact or accomplish next. Different people will bring different levels of advice, connections and recommendations forward. So before you start asking someone to be your sponsor, it is essential to understand what you have already achieved, what you desire to influence and impact next and who has the willingness, wisdom and connections to help you.
Like most strategic activities, aligning with sponsors takes a plan, awareness and courtesy. These exchanges are often high-value alignments that can potentially catapult your career or business to new levels of impact. Professional etiquette still applies and is often even more vital, as these people are commonly more experienced and connected.
I recommend the same professional politeness you would have for executives, with a focus on consideration for their time and an acknowledgment that it takes personal preparation. Even though there are many professionals with social capital, not everyone wants to or can be your sponsor, so be ready for rejection. It happens and should not be too discouraging, as there are often many competing activities for potential sponsors.
Be prepared
To maximize opportunities with potential sponsors, document accomplishments and current activities. Outline your career goals with related actions and share them if asked. Be aware of potential hurdles and gaps and come up with some possible workarounds. Also, be prepared with a few asks, if invited, that you can share with a specific sponsor.
Quick tips

  •  Be prepared and thoughtful.
  •  Recognize that it takes time. 
  •  Align with people who can genuinely help you.
  •  Understand that fear and self-doubt will appear.
  •  Know that titles can be misleading.
  •  Express professional courtesy and appreciation.  
  •  Reciprocate when appropriate.  

The right sponsors can often help you gain new experiences, develop strategic professional relationships and acquire new levels of experience and knowledge.

To learn more about how to streamline the process of finding and aligning with potential sponsors based on where you plan to have additional influence and impact next, check out the detailed steps and an action-based course at JJ DiGeronimo is president at Tech Savvy Women.