I will admit, normally I don’t watch very much TV. Some how during the course of the day, with all the running around I do I can’t really commit to very much time in front of the tube. That being said, one morning while I was lazing about in front of the door, trying to convince myself to leave the house for work. I happened to catch a solid fifteen minutes of a program highlighting female (African-American) executives and their tips for job success.
Now, despite these ladies working in “Corporate America” I believe that the heart of their message applies no matter what field you may work in or the color of your skin.
Here are their main points:
1. Get yourself a sponsor
2. Find a mentor
Now while these positions in your life may seem similar their roles and your relationship with them is vastly different.A Sponsor is the individual, within your organization, who is “investing” in your career and its growth. They will normally recognize your potential for more and they want to help you move forward. on the other hand a Mentor may not work in your org, or even in your field but understands who you are, what you’re about and has some advice as to how you may go about getting to where you want to be.
Characteristics to look for when choosing your Sponsor: The number one most important attribute for your Sponsor is that they are “at the table”, which means that they are apart of the discussion as to the goings on in your organization, they are a decision maker.These people will almost always be in Managerial/Directorial positions. You want to make sure that your sponsor is, in the know as to what new opportunities are presenting themselves around the office. Why, you ask? The reason is simple, and it is all about power. Power to influence projects and the teams that work on them as well the power to give you make your presence known within the organization.
Feeling stuck in your current position? You probably don’t have a sponsor (or a good one at least)
So when considering someone to approach to be your sponsor, ask yourself these questions;
1. Is he/she in a position to know about new opportunities and can they make me apart of them?
2. Will they actually help me?
Now that second question is always a tricky one and to be completely honest there is no sure fire way to tell who is actually willing to help and who is all talk. The important thing is to keep talking to people and keeping your work standard high. Because there is no rule saying you can only have one but whoever and however many you have, they will expect you to deliver on what they send your way. So just keep that in mind, it may be time to step your game up.
Characteristics when considering a Mentor: When considering someone to be your mentor it is all about the relationship you have with them. Your mentor is more of a guide than a vehicle in your career. Your mentor should be someone who you feel comfortable enough to have drinks with after work, ask them the questions you are too nervous to ask your peers/supervisors (was that really that inappropriate? I think I need to quit my job, what do you think?) I can’t stress enough that they know you and your goals and that you value their opinions.
Now while your Sponsor must be in your direct field, Mentors can be someone; from outside of the office or a different field but again it is all about finding someone who is a good fit for you and your situation. You don’t want to choose someone who has never had a job in an office when your goal is to a CFO in a Top 5 company?
NUH-UH! Try again!
Is this all it takes to being successful in your career? Of course not! But by correctly utilizing these tools can must certainly jump start your career!