Want a diverse team? Try sponsorship.

Sponsors champion, coach and challenge their protégés to new levels of leadership. They put their own reputation on the line to advocate for junior talent, helping them get in front of the right people. In fact, recent data shows us that black managers are 65% more likely to be promoted to the next level if they have a sponsor.

We’ve been doing a lot of sponsorship training lately and the question that keeps coming up again and again is, ‘Can I be a sponsor to someone I’ve never worked with?’ and the answer is a resounding Yes. It requires more of an initial commitment to build the relationship and trust, but ultimately can be even more rewarding for both parties.

So, what can protégés do to kick off a sponsorship relationship with someone they’ve never worked with? The easy answer is to come prepared. We’ve worked with a lot of experienced sponsors, and they appreciate when protégés come to the first meeting with a:

  1. Brief career summary: After all, a sponsor can’t leverage their network and champion for their protégé if they don’t know what they bring to the table.

  2. Value proposition: Protégés need to showcase their value by highlighting their key strengths via case studies, peer reviews and career stories.

  3. List of their objectives: Are you looking to make a lateral move into a new department? Try out a new industry? Be challenged with new opportunities outside of your usual sphere? Protégés need to be clear about where they want to advance to and how they see themselves getting there.

  4. List of 3 to 5 questions: Sponsors are eager to offer value and having their protégés come with questions prepared helps them offer immediate value and understand more fully how they can help.

  5. Call to action: What does the protégé need from the sponsor? Is there someone they need to be championed or introduced to? Is there a proposal or presentation they would like reviewed? Protégés can take the guesswork out the relationship by telling sponsors exactly what it is they need doing.

Another question that has been coming up again and again is protégés wondering how they in turn can offer value to their sponsors. To find out the answer, keep an eye out for our blog post next week where we take a deep dive into the issue.

In the meantime, if you or your company are interested in sponsorship training, our customized workshops have a 95% approval rating and we’d be honoured to help.

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