Many people have enjoyed the guidance and support provided by a mentor, a professional with more experience who provides critical advice and career enhancing challenges. But recently, this difficult job market has bred a new support role – the sponsor.
According to career coach Colette Martin in an advice column for Forbes, a sponsor is a trusted professional that gives you advice and clarity – similar to a mentor – but this person is connected within an organization where you work or are hoping to work. The sponsor is like your personal public relations machine, advocating on your behalf for a new job or promotion within the company.
Typically, a sponsor is someone in a leadership position. This person will have the clout to lobby for you when a number of names are being circulated for a new opportunity. An advocate like this can be essential to moving up the ladder, as each open position attracts the interest of many qualified candidates. A sponsor won't have much pull in getting you a job that you are not qualified for, but this professional can surely help bring your name to the top of the list if you are qualified.
Finding a sponsor can require some hard work. While some companies offer formal mentoring and sponsorship programs, most cases require you to network to nurture this type of professional relationship.
Working Mother suggests that you network with senior executives whenever possible. At each meeting or work event, make yourself engage with two people who can help your career. Whenever possible, take part in work-sponsored social events or volunteer opportunities. It's likely that you'll meet some high-ranking professionals, and you'll do so in a fun, non-threatening environment.
When choosing a potential sponsor, look to someone who seems to be well-liked, well-connected and who is an ace at networking. Ideally, a sponsor would also be someone that you share some similar interests with. If you love yoga meditation, for example, and you find a sponsor who also enjoys yoga stretching poses, you may foster a deeper professional connection.