You’ve heard the adage “you only have one chance to make a first impression.” The same can be true when seeking a business sponsor to help you advance your career. That conversation you have with a business leader who might be the perfect “center of influence” for your future career journey is an important one. You need to be prepared that they’ll have very pointed questions for you:
- What type of position are you seeking?
- What are the top companies you are interested in working for?
- What are the skills you would bring to that role?
- Is there someone’s career you want to emulate? If so, who and why?
- Who within my connections do you want to be introduced to?
If you answer with statements like: I’m not sure yet, it will be difficult for the prospective business sponsor to be of any help. Don’t go to the sponsor with the idea that they will be able to help you flush out your ideas; that is more the role of a mentor.
Let’s define the difference between a mentor and a business sponsor:
- A mentor is often a person that gives you advice on how to move from here to there or maneuver a situation. They talk only to you about what you should do.
- A sponsor is a person that talks to you about your goals, guides you in the right direction and endorses you to others when you are not around and could help facilitate your desired next steps. These sponsors are often critical to your promotions or next position or initiative because they are often highlighting your skills and contributions to the “right” people.
When you talk with a mentor, they help determine what your goals are.
When you talk with a sponsor, they help guide you to the right people to help make the goals a reality.
If you are feeling like you know you don’t want to continue doing what you do now but are unsure of what you DO want to do; you have a little bit of work to do before contacting a potential business sponsor.
In my book The Working Woman’s GPS there are a number of exercises to help clarify what you do want. Through a series of questions I help you uncover the intersection between:
- What you look forward to doing
- What people compliment you for doing
- Positions that showcase your value
I call that your Influence and Impact quotient -your I2 Center. Invest in yourself by reading books and completing exercises that will help you uncover the position that really speaks to what you enjoy doing and what others need.
A few other books to consider:
Finding a business sponsor and nurturing that relationship is a very important part of the process of your career journey, however, you will want to make sure you have done the work before starting those conversations. The more prepared you are, the better a business sponsor can help connect you with the organizations and people who can help you achieve your goals.
Check out JJ’s new book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.