Having a career sponsor is like being verified on social media. Someone gives you their stamp of approval. Which helps boost your credibility.
Career sponsorship can be a real game-changer when done right.
A sponsor can mention your name in rooms you’re not invited to.
That’s what makes them so powerful. But it’s not enough to just have a sponsor.
You need a game plan to get the most out of the sponsorship experience.
Here are the best questions to ask your career sponsor. And what career sponsorship is all about.
What is a Career Sponsor?
A career sponsor is an experienced professional that uses their connections and influence to create opportunities to advance your career.
A good career sponsor is someone who is experienced and well connected in your industry. Their opinions have value.
They’ve made a name for themselves. And have the track record to prove it.
What to discuss with your Career Sponsor
You should discuss topics related to your career advancement when meeting with your career sponsor.
Use meetings to discuss your short and long-term career goals. And how they can help you reach them.
Your relationship with your career sponsor shouldn’t be one-sided (just like with any relationship).
Get to know your sponsor’s career goals. And keep an eye out for ways to help them reach those goals.
Check out this post for ways to maintain the relationship organically. Keep reading for more specific questions to ask your career sponsor.
Questions to Ask your Career Sponsor
Getting to know your career sponsor
Don’t get caught up in over-preparing questions that you forget to be a human. Be yourself and try to relax.
Think of meeting your sponsor as hanging out with a new friend. You genuinely want to get to know them.
And want them to feel like the support is mutual.
Keep things professional without being overly formal and rehearsed. This will make the whole sponsorship experience better for both of you.
Questions to get to know your sponsor:
- What are your short and long-term career goals?
- How can I help you reach those goals?
- What are your interests outside of work?
- Tell me about your past sponsees. Any success stories you’d like to share?
- What can I do to best support you as your sponsee?
Setting expectations for the sponsorship relationship
Get on the same page about what your relationship with your sponsor will look like. Do this by setting expectations for the partnership early on.
Get clear about goals for the relationship and how you plan to achieve them together. This will help your meetings run smoother. And avoid issues down the road.
Here are some sponsorship discussion questions to help you get on the same page. These are especially important to ask in your first sponsorship meeting.
Questions to help set expectations:
- What information can I provide you to make your job easier?
- How often should we communicate?
- What’s the best way for us to connect?
- What would you like me to prepare for our meetings?
- What are your expectations of me?
Advancing in your career
A career sponsor is usually someone with a wealth of knowledge. So learn from the pros. Here’s what to ask with sponsorship for career advancement.
Questions about advancing your career:
- What can I do to make myself easy to sponsor?
- What type of skills should I develop to prepare for the next level?
- How can I build my influence and connections as you’ve done?
- What would you do if you were in my current position?
- What can I learn from you about [enter something your sponsor does well]?
Helping your sponsor help you
What separates a mentor from a sponsor is that a sponsor will advocate for you. They’ll use their connections and influence to open doors for you.
Help your sponsor help you by asking direct questions. Be clear about how they can support you.
And don’t be shy about it. Remember, your success means their success as your sponsor.
Questions that help your sponsor help you:
- I’m interested in taking on more high-visibility projects at work. Can you keep an eye out for these types of projects for me?
- Is there anyone you’d recommend I speak to about [enter something you need help with]?
- I’m exploring changing career paths and not exactly sure where to start. Is there anyone you recommend I speak with about [enter industry of interest]?
- I’m up for a promotion at work next month. Can you help put in a good word about me to [enter the decision maker]?
- My performance evaluations are coming up. I plan to ask for a raise. How do you suggest I go about this?
The power of career sponsorship is having someone mention your name in rooms you can’t access. Because you can only be in so many places at once.
Now it’s time to create a game plan for your next meeting with your sponsor.
Use these 20 questions as a starting point to get the most out of the partnership.
Our career planner can help you map out your career goals to prep for your sponsorship meetings. It walks you through self-discovery activities to map out your 1, 5, and 10-year career goals.
Knowing your goals going into sponsorship is the secret sauce to getting the results you want. Grab our career planner at NetWerk® University!
Over to You
What’s been your experience with career sponsors? Head to our comments section on social @netwerkmovement and let us know. Share this with someone looking for a sponsor!