MILLENNIALS, REPEAT AFTER ME- MENTORS OUTSIDE, SPONSORS INSIDE
PostedJune 13, 2013
Through “Millennials Mean Business”, JB Training Solutions is committed to providing amazing career advice targeted toward millennials. To that aim, we make it a point to connect you with other career savvy workplace experts. Today, we bring you a guest blog post from Marcy Twete, founder of Career Girl Network.
When we discovered Career Girl Network, we were engrossed in the site for a good 45 minutes without even realizing how much time had gone by. The focus of Career Girl Network is to provide the opportunity to connect with other women, expand their knowledge in career resources, and ultimately rise to the top of their fields, reach down and help another woman up. You’ll find candid, pithy articles packed with tips and tricks to get ahead in business. Every single article is compelling and includes tactical advice that can be implemented right away. Check out Marcy’s advice below on identifying sponsors and mentors and be sure to follow her on Twitter @CareerGirlMarcy.
Millennials, Repeat After Me - Mentors Outside, Sponsors Inside
One of the most common misperceptions when it comes to the millennial generation in the workplace is that we’re “know it alls” who have little respect for authority. Often, our bosses and more experience colleagues see us as whiny youngsters who think far too highly of ourselves. As members of the millennial generation, it’s up to us to dispel this perception by showing that we are interested in and dedicated to learning from our more experienced and knowledgable colleagues.
Showcasing our willingness to learn, though, isn’t as easy as just asking for help on a project. It involves building a team of mentors and sponsors who help you learn and actively participate in building your reputation in your workplace and industry. To truly show the often critical higher-ups in your company you mean business, you must develop strong relationships with both mentors and sponsors.
This is where the vocabulary lesson here gets a little tricky. What’s the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? Millennials, repeat after me - Mentors Outside, Sponsors Inside. Mentors should exist outside your current company, and perhaps even outside your industry. Sponsors, however, should be internal key players who can help you to navigate within your current company and excel in your role. Mentors are your navigation system, but sponsors are the keys to the car. Ask mentors for advice and guidance on your journey, ask sponsors for connections and clear paths to success.
To help you on your journey, here are a few tips for finding, engaging and building relationships with both mentors and sponsors.
• Mentors should not work for the same company you do. In fact, you should look for someone who is generally impartial when it comes to your employer.
• If possible, find a leader in your industry to mentor you - perhaps someone with experience in your position who has risen through the ranks over time.
• Consider also looking outside your industry for additional mentors whose careers you respect for their growth or risk taking.
• You are the caretaker of the mentoring relationship. The onus is on you to follow up, set meetings, and drive the goals of the relationship. Do not rely on your mentor to push you forward.
• Sponsors should work inside your company and, ideally, are a few levels above you on the food chain.
• Tell your sponsor about the mentoring you’re doing outside the company, the work you’re doing inside the company, and promote your willingness to work hard and drive to succeed.
• Ask your sponsor to introduce you to colleagues on their level you might not know, or to invite you to industry or company events you may not otherwise be privy to.
• After finding a sponsor, you are no longer the caretaker of the relationship. They are. Your job, with that person, is to show them regularly how driven you are to succeed and remind them of why they want to help you get ahead. But let them drive the relationship as a general rule.
Surrounding yourself with influencers in your workplace and industry is the first step to dispelling the stereotype that because you’re a millennial, you’re a “know it all.” As individuals with strong backgrounds in your field see you consistently developing relationships and asking important questions, reaching out for help and being willing to listen, you’ll soon go from a “know it all” to a trusted employee who is quickly rising on the ladder. But remember, use the resources you have correctly and for the right reasons. Millennials, repeat after me - Mentors, Outside. Sponsors, Inside.