Mentors are an invaluable part of making progress in your career, but they can only get you so far. If you really want to succeed at work, it’s time to find a sponsor as well as a mentor, or even INSTEAD of a mentor.
Here are 10 reasons that a sponsor can get you a lot farther:
- They promote you -- A mentor helps you to promote yourself, but a sponsor actively puts you forward as a candidate for jobs and opportunities. You’ll find that many more jobs open up thanks to their recommendation.
- They put themselves on the line -- In many businesses, it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know. Working with a sponsor gets you recommendations and endorsements that will increase your chances of getting that dream job.
- They actively look for ways to help you -- A mentor is there to offer advice and counsel, and they may be able to help recommend some positions. A sponsor is someone who is keeping an eye out for openings that you will be best suited for, and they will help you in a much more active way.
- They can help you get into an exclusive "club" -- Women often benefit from sponsors, particularly if they are trying to get a job in companies that are more like "men’s clubs" than businesses.
- They make things happen -- Mentors help to prepare you for something to happen, but sponsors actually get things done. They make recommendations, look for openings, and help to push you, whereas a mentor is only there for support
- They are less common -- Many larger companies offer mentorship programs, but sponsors are few and far between. If you find someone willing to sponsor you, it’s always a good choice to work with them!
- They take greater risks -- You should realize that sponsors are spending their political capital in order to sponsor you, and they are banking on you as a good investment. A sponsor is far more likely to help you simply because by making you look good, they make themselves look good.
- They can help you approach a job from a new angle -- While they may not have specific job experience that can help you, they do have experience that will benefit you. They will push you to do your best, but offer advice that will help you to solve your problems.
- They will hold you accountable -- While a mentor is there to offer advice, a sponsor is banking on your success. If you fail, you are failing them directly. Being accountable to someone like that is a great way to motivate yourself to succeed.
- They can help expand your network -- A mentor may or may not give you access to his network, but a sponsor is often willing to do whatever it takes to help you succeed. That means helping you expand your network.
Both mentors and sponsors can help you to advance your career, but sponsors are usually more active participants in your professional development!
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