When it comes to finding a sponsor to support your professional growth, there are some questions you should ask yourself first…
- Do I know what I need?
Make sure you know which of the following forms of professional support will benefit you the most:
A mentor – someone to help you think through your career decisions and direction.
A coach – someone to work with you on specific development areas.
A sponsor – your advocate when you're not in the room.
- And for what purpose?
Be clear about what you need a sponsor for: do you need advice on your career direction in general; help with a particular pitch or piece of work; or guidance on how to land a specific role? The kind of person you need for each of those three areas could be very different.
- Does the person understand me?
You need to be sure that the person you choose has seen what you do or has worked with you; you can't expect someone to fight your corner if they don't know how you really operate.
- Do I know myself?
Are you aware of what your brand identity is and how you want to develop it? If the person you work with has a different view, they may not be the right person; alternatively, you may need to rethink what you're really about and how you come across to others.
- Have I met them already?
There may be someone in the background who has been your supporter for a while. Having a sponsor doesn't always require as formal a contract as you might need for a mentor or coach, who may offer more specific forms of assistance.