Sponsorship -An Essential Tool for Career Success 

Whether you’re building your entrepreneurial empire or scaling the corporate ladder, there are essential tools that you will need to ensure career success. At the minimum, you should know how to work your network, communicate effectively and exhibit emotional intelligence. Those skills will get you in the door, but if you truly want to differentiate yourself from the rest, you need to find a sponsor. 

What is sponsorship?

People are under the wrong impression that coaching, mentoring and sponsorship are interchangeable, but they differ in form and function. They are all important to your career development, but sponsorship is more powerful. All three have career advancement as the end goal, but where coaching and mentoring involve the planning, sponsorship is about the doing.

“A coach talks to you, a mentor talks with you, and a sponsor talks about you.”

A sponsor is a prominent person who uses their strong influence to increase your visibility. Think of a sponsor as your career champion who can open closed doors and put you in front of the right people.

Strategies to attract sponsors

An overarching theme of Partnhers is being strategic and intentional about your own career and success.

PartnHER Strategic Life Plan

  1. Think about what you want.
  2. Develop a plan of action.
  3. Go after what you want.
  4. Have fun while you’re doing it.

Strategic Sponsorship Plan

In the same way, you should be strategic about finding a sponsor. In most cases, it doesn’t just happen. You are responsible for increasing your own visibility and profile. Your plan can look something like this.

Strategic Sponsorship Plan

  1. Research SME’s or Thought Leaders in your field. Learn from them.
  2. Reach out to them.
  3. Put yourself in front of them.
  4. Let them see you in action.

If all goes well, your sponsor will have seen enough potential in you to endorse you to other power brokers. The rest is up to you. Just remember that this is a two-way relationship and it works best if both parties benefit. The sponsor should treat this relationship as they would any investment – with great time and care. Likewise, the protégé should be enhancing their sponsor’s reputation and not draining them.


No matter where you are in your career journey, it’s never too late to find a sponsor. The most successful people have had more than one sponsor throughout their careers. They see this as a valuable tool that can open doors and increase their visibility to the people that matter.


  1. […] Sponsorship is something that I talk about often as it is one of the most neglected ways to advance your career – at least among women. Sponsorship involves an influential person becoming your career advocate. A sponsor will use their “political capital” to speak on your behalf, recommend you for high-profile projects, put you in front of the right people and help you to get promoted. The young accountant mentioned earlier became a protege of more than one sponsor in her organization. Since she had managed to increase her visibility (through her desire to learn and initiative) now every time a promotion or opportunity opens up, they immediately recommend her. […]


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