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Mentors, Sponsors and Advisory Boards for Business Women


Mentorship and Sponsorship are extremely important and I would go even a step beyond to an advisory board which is a group of both.

  • Mentorship 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.
  • Sponsorship 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.
  • An Advisory Board is people you assemble within your inner circle upon whom you call for advice, guidance, and elevation.

It is important to note that these mentors, sponsors and advisory boards are often not based on luck and often just do not appear.  Women (and men) must actively pursue the right people.  Here are a few steps to keep in mind:

  • First, set a bold goal to hand-pick the highest quality people. Don’t let guidance for such an important step fall to a default situation.
  • Second, ideally, your mentors, sponsors that define your advisory board should have people from different areas and with various viewpoints; don’t get caught up with titles.
  • Third, don’t limit yourself to assembling just one group of people. For example, I have three groups of sponsorships and/or advisory boards:
    • Career Board
    • Entrepreneur Board
    • A Family/Community Board
  • Finally, boards should be customized and effective. If you discover you have a knowledge gap on your board, you need to fill it.

Be proactive in selecting your mentors, sponsors and advisory board. The more active you are in selecting and inviting people, the more effective you, and they, will be. They will take the role of assisting you in this life more seriously, and so will you. You choose how many people you need and how many people you will invite to sit on each advisory board. Sometimes, the same people will sit on more than one board, but not always.

You decide. You also decide what you want each board to do for you.

As I have evolved, so have my boards. I’m delighted to find myself participating more often on other people’s boards as they readjust their journeys. I am delighted and energized by this reciprocity.

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JJ DiGeronimo

Speaker, Author & Thought Leader for Women in Tech & Girls in STEM.

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