… the major key to career success
In today’s competitive and rapidly evolving job market, achieving career success requires more than just hard work and talent. While these qualities are undoubtedly crucial, having the right connections and support can make a significant difference in propelling your career forward. One of the most powerful resources you can have in your professional journey is a sponsor.
In any organisation, securing a sponsor is pivotal for career advancement. A sponsor holds a critical role in your professional journey, shaping opportunities and advocating for your growth. Whether in academia, healthcare, or financial services, evaluations often carry a human element, introducing subjectivity in how your case is presented and perceived. Having a sponsor who has your best interests at heart and wields the power to act behind closed doors is indispensable.
What/who is a sponsor?
A sponsor, in the context of career development, is someone in a position of influence or authority within your organisation or industry who actively advocates for your career advancement. Unlike a mentor who provides guidance and advice, a sponsor takes a more proactive role in opening doors and creating opportunities for their protégé. They use their clout and reputation to support and champion the professional growth of the person they sponsor.
You are not going to accent in any organization without a sponsor.
The power of sponsorship
Securing a sponsor can be a game-changer for any professional. Here’s why having a sponsor is crucial for career success:
- Visibility and recognition: A sponsor, often holding a senior position, can bring you into the spotlight and ensure that your accomplishments get the recognition they deserve. They might recommend you for high-profile projects, speaking engagements, or leadership roles that elevate your professional profile.
- Access to opportunities: With a sponsor on your side, you gain access to opportunities that might not have been available otherwise. Sponsors can open doors to promotions, career advancement, and access to influential networks that can supercharge your career trajectory.
- Advocacy in your absence: When you have a sponsor, they speak on your behalf even when you’re not in the room. This advocacy is crucial during decision-making processes, promotions, or when resources are allocated within the organisation.
- Personal development and feedback: Sponsors provide valuable feedback and guidance, helping you understand your strengths and areas for improvement. They can support your professional development, suggest relevant training, and help you build the skills necessary to succeed.
- Confidence and motivation: Knowing that you have someone powerful backing you can boost your confidence and motivation. This kind of encouragement can be instrumental in overcoming challenges and taking calculated risks in your career.
But how does one find a sponsor?
Two currencies reign in any environment: performance currency and relationship currency.
Performance currency: This currency is generated by consistently delivering results and going the extra mile. A strong performance currency elevates your visibility, drawing sponsors to you.
Relationship currency: This currency stems from the investments you make in nurturing connections with people in your environment. You cannot expect someone to advocate on your behalf if you’ve had no prior interactions. Building meaningful relationships is crucial. Take the time to connect, engage and let others get to know you. Once they understand your capabilities and commitment, the likelihood of becoming your sponsors increases significantly.
When approaching a potential sponsor, express your desire for growth candidly. A straightforward approach can be effective, like saying: “Alberta, I’m eager for a promotion this year. I believe someone needs to champion my cause behind closed doors, and I hope you’d consider supporting me. You’re familiar with my work and dedication”. If a genuine relationship exists, chances are they will respond positively and put their influence to work on your behalf.
While securing a sponsor can be a major key to career success, it’s essential to find the right one. Here are some tips for identifying and building a strong relationship with a sponsor:
- Prove your value: The first step to attracting a sponsor is to excel in your current role. Deliver exceptional results, take on additional responsibilities, and demonstrate your commitment to your organisation’s mission.
- Seek compatibility: Look for a sponsor whose values align with yours and who has a genuine interest in your career growth. The relationship should be built on mutual respect and trust.
- Network Strategically: Attend industry events, workshops, and conferences where you can meet potential sponsors. Networking can help you establish connections with influential individuals who can support your career journey.
- Be proactive: Don’t be afraid to approach someone you admire and express your interest in having them as a sponsor. Demonstrate how their mentorship could benefit both your career and the organization.
- Be a Reliable Protégé: If someone agrees to sponsor you, show gratitude and dedication. Be responsive to their advice, follow through on commitments, and keep them informed of your progress.
Securing a sponsor is undeniably a major key to career success. The support, guidance and opportunities that sponsors provide can propel your career to new heights. However, it’s essential to remember that sponsorship is not a one-sided relationship. It requires effort, dedication and mutual respect to make the partnership fruitful. As you progress in your professional journey, consider seeking out a sponsor and becoming a sponsor yourself to uplift others and contribute to a thriving and interconnected professional community.
To our respective sponsors, remember, growing your power involves empowering others; and your voice remains at the heart of your progress.
The author is a risk assessment and cost reduction strategist, accountant, relationship coach, and writer.
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