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Do You Have a Mentor or Sponsor Yet?

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller.

A statement that couldn’t be truer. Most successful individuals will tell you that their success wasn’t gained by just them. They had advocacy, support, mentorship and/or sponsorship. Having a mentor and/or sponsor in your professional career can make a world of difference. I can personally attest to how having a mentor and sponsor has tremendously helped me with my personal and professional goals.

Before I go any further though, there is a difference between a mentor and a sponsor so I wan tto take a moment to clarify the difference:

  • Mentor – a mentor advises, supports, and provides guidance, to help the mentee with career and/or personal development. A mentor can also serve as a role model to the mentee. Mentor relationships tend to be long-term and over a period of time.

  • Sponsor – a sponsor is a person who advocates, vouches and/or responsible for a person. The sponsor tends to be very high in the organization and has a lot of influential power. This can also be considered the next stage of mentoring.

Both provide amazing value in your career, and if you can have both that is amazing. Even if you decide to have one that is fine too. Now there are many benefits of having a mentor or a sponsor such as:

  • Increased confidence in yourself and the value you bring to the work you do

  • Increased self-awareness of your strengths and potential areas of opportunities

  • Increased personal and professional knowledge in the domain and industry of interest

  • Exposure to different perspectives on how to approach goals, work, career paths and more

  • Increase in networking opportunities that can blossom into opportunities in the future, or at least additional connections, you can tap in to

  • Lessons learned so you don't have to make some of the same mistakes as others

  • Exposure to different individuals you may not have exposure to otherwise

Though these relationships take time to identify and foster, it is worth the investment.

Now there are some things to consider when choosing a mentor:

  • You need to be clear on what exactly you are looking for in a mentor?

  • You need to understand how will this particular individual help you achieve your goals?

  • You need to determine if the fit is right between you and the mentor? You may determine this if you decide to pursue the mentoring relationship and start working with you mentor as well.

  • You need to observe if this person is happy in their career?

  • You need to determine if this person can help you with your career?

Now when it comes to sponsorship, sponsors typically reach out to individuals they want to advocate for. This comes with you being visible. Being seen for the great work you do. If you tend to be more of a shy person obtaining a mentor first may be a great first step before sponsorship. Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t find your own sponsor and reach out. That has been done successfully in the past, but if you go this route make sure to have an understanding of why you want this individual to be a sponsor and why you feel this particular person should advocate for you. Make sure your expectations are clear to yourself, and the individual you are reaching out to.

Now if you find when you form the mentor/sponsorship relationship and it is not working, you do have options, as it doesn’t make sense to stay in a relationship that isn’t working.

Here are some tips on what to do if you find the relationship isn't working:

  • Have an honest conversation with your mentor/sponsor about what is not working and determine next steps. You may find there is a way to keep the relationship going.

  • Reset expectations if the issue is you are not getting out of the relationship what you expected, but you do feel the mentor/sponsor is a great fit.

  • If the relationship is not a great fit at all then be honest with your mentor and/or sponsor that the relationship is not working and explain why. It doesn’t make sense to waste time trying to make a relationship work that will not work. This is a crucial conversation to have though may feel uncomfortable.

In conclusion, I hope you see the value in investing in a mentor and looking forward to, or obtaining sponsorship. Both can really help your personal and professional goals. Just make sure to be clear on your expectations and that the relationship is adding value.

Remember it’s all about being the “BEST YOU IN ’22!” YOU GOT THIS!!!! Now go forth and conquer!!!!


Until next time,

The BA Martial Artist is signing off 🥋



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1 Comment

BA MArtial Artist
BA MArtial Artist
Jul 02, 2022

What has been your experience with a mentor/sponsor? How have they helped you in your career?

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