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Want a sponsor? ‘Knock it out of the park’

team with woman in foreground

“If you're getting great opportunities, chances are there's a sponsor behind the scenes,” Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc., told online participants during “Attract the Attention of Influential Sponsors,” this year’s fourth NEW Leadership Academy webinar, August 10.

Miller, program facilitator for NEW Leadership Academy, shared advice for attracting sponsors — senior leaders who advocate on behalf of professionals and connect them with career opportunities.

“Mentors help you skill up, whereas sponsors help you move up,” Miller explained.

According to a Harvard Business Review study, “high-potential women are over-mentored and under-sponsored relative to their male peers.” The question, though, shouldn’t be “How do I get a sponsor?” It should be, “How do I hold myself out as someone who is ready and willing to work with a sponsor?”

Miller offered these tips for positioning yourself for sponsorship:

Perform. “If you’re not knocking it out of the park in your performance, isn’t it a lot to ask of a sponsor that they would put their reputation on the line, and stick their neck out to advocate for you?” Miller asked attendees.

Know who the good sponsors are. “If you see others in your team or organizations whose careers are moving rapidly, take a look behind the scenes,” Miller advised.

Observe the protocols. “Are there any unspoken, unwritten rules of how sponsorship operates in your organization’s culture? Talk to sponsored colleagues about how it works,” Miller said.

Network. “Network above your direct-above and beyond your direct management chain,” Miller urged, “so that you’re making yourself known to potential sponsors.”

Raise your hand. “Find ways for those potential sponsors to see you in action,” Miller advised.

Make your value visible. “Don’t be the best-kept secret,” Miller said.

Sponsorship promotes sponsorship, Miller said. “People who have benefited from sponsorship are more likely to sponsor others.”

NEW learning webinars are free to NEW members. Register for the next NEW Leadership Academy webinar, “Lead from Where You Are,” Nov. 9, 2017 at 1 p.m. ET. NEW members may view past webinars in the Study Hall. Not a member? Join NEW.