On any given day in your work life, there is a lot to focus on. Clients, meetings, deadlines, office politics, stress and anxiety, not to mention your boss, your team and just when do you get that coffee break?! It can be pretty overwhelming. So it's not surprising that my…
Do you have one of these? (hint: you need one)
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I believe this to be true. I also believe it takes a network of people to create a successful career. We don’t do it on our own; no matter how much we might like to believe we can. It’s incredibly important in your career to have people around you who are your true supporters; to have people you can look up to; and to have those who you can take trusted advice from. So many women underestimate just how critical this is, not only for getting ahead, but also for building the self-confidence that will get you where you want to be.
When I speak on career topics to large rooms of women, especially gen X and gen Y women, a topic that is getting a lot of airtime recently is sponsors. Women generally feel that, if they just get on with the work and do a fabulous job, people will notice and it will be enough to get them the next great role, or the next promotion or project. But unfortunately, in today’s workplace, it is just not enough (actually I don’t think it ever has been). Keeping your head down and bum up, means that you often don’t see what is going on around you, or who is talking to who. Before you know it, the guy next to you, who has a senior sponsor in the business, just got the promotion you have been busting your butt for. It happens every day. Now it’s not the guy’s fault. And it’s not your fault either, as you haven’t known any better. But you will now.
Sponsors are people in your career who are passionate advocates for you. It’s like they wear a T-shirt with your name on it (not literally of course, but get the gist). They may sponsor you into a new role, by lobbying for you in a way that can be more influential than other routes. They may make business introductions for you with key people you need to meet, to get to your next position or opportunity. They may connect you with mentors, who can help you fills gaps in your skill base; or work on specific areas that you want to develop. And they can certainly help you navigate the politics of your organisation – and let’s not forget how critical that is.
In terms of identifying sponsors, you should be able to easily point them out. They are the people who sing your praises whenever possible. They could be a current or former boss, someone you worked on a project with, or a former mentor. They could even be a former employee – you just don’t know where people will end up in this interconnected, global world we now work in. And they don’t even need to be more senior than you. So stretch your thinking and get outside the square. You may have more out there than you think.
Identify your sponsors and work out where they might be able to help you. There may be nothing at the moment, and that is fine. I can go for months or a year without actively seeking out a request for help. But when you need it, reach out with a clear and respectful request for support, always acknowledging how grateful you are for their help (of course). In the meantime, nurture the relationship, and keep the connection alive and well.
Work out who your sponsors are, and how and when you may be able to draw on their support. Do you have a career move coming up, that they could help you with? Is there a decision you need to make, that their perspective and guidance would be invaluable on? Nurture these relationships. You never know when you may need them.
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Looking to work with me? I have just opened up some new slots on my calendar for coaching clients and speaking engagements. These are the cool things you get to do when you are on sabbatical (post on that coming next week). If you are looking to create some positive change in your life or business, then drop me a line and let’s discuss how I can help you. It would be my privilege. You can see some starting options here. And if you are looking for a speaker for your next event, check out this page, and let’s talk.
Thanks for being here.