Hi all. It's Karen Catlin again. Have you watched the latest Women Talk Tech webcast by Jo Miller, CEO, Women's Leadership Coaching, Inc.? The webcast entitled "Take Charge of Your Career Trajectory" is inspirational and chock full of great tips. If you haven't already seen it, be sure to check it out!
In the webcast, Jo shared five elements for creating a roadmap for advancement. One of the elements is to engage with sponsors, or people who are influential in your organization or your industry. Sponsors know you well enough to advocate for you and recommend you for new opportunities. With their organizational clout, they can open doors you never knew existed. They could be the key to your career advancement.
But how exactly do you get a sponsor? As Jo explained, you have to earn the respect of a sponsor. You never approach someone and ask them to be your sponsor. She made me laugh when she said, "That would be like going on a first date and asking that person to marry you." Or, as my kids would say, "Awkward!"
Instead, I have some practical ideas for you to consider as you think about engaging with sponsors. I collected these from workshops and discussions I've led about sponsorship; they've helped others and I bet they'll help you.
What’s in it for the sponsor?
To start, let's look at why a sponsor might be interested in helping you.
As Jo told us in the webinar, you have to earn the respect of a sponsor. I believe the building blocks for earning respect are:
Previous managers and mentors often make great sponsors because they know you well. Or, a sponsor could be another leader who you respect. To engage them, ask them to sponsor specific things. For example, ask them to:
How do you thank a sponsor?
Don't forget to thank your sponsor. Here are some ideas:
About Karen: Karen Catlin, a former high-tech executive, is now a leadership coach and author of "Use Your Inside Voice", a blog about the intersection of leadership and parenting. She is passionate about helping technical women have successful careers.