June 28, 2011
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
Doing your homework is an important first step in securing the sponsor you need. To recap the last post, you’ll want to:
1. Clarify your preferred career path.
2. Decide what you want from a sponsor.
3. Define your personal style and communications preferences.
4. Determine your assets and demonstrate your contributions.
5. Identify possible sponsor candidates.
Once you know who you are, who and what you want, and why, you’ll need strategies for building and sustaining a sponsorship relationship. The final five tips, provided below, should help.
6. Think small, go slow, and test the waters. You may be ready to dive into the surf, but your potential sponsor may not be considering a swim or be a very good swimmer. How can you find ways to test whether the fit is right? One strategy is to ask for advice on a specific topic or project. The response will give you helpful data about the quality of the counsel and the way it was delivered. Did the interaction energize you? Empower you? Fit your need? Did it make you want to continue the conversation?
7. Be clear and direct. This should be easy if you’ve done your homework (see above). Be prepared to make a compelling and brief request. Think elevator speech! Busy people appreciate your respect for their time. Be specific about what you want and why you want the person you are approaching. Flattery – sincere and tastefully done, with specifics, and in small doses, as in “I asked for this meeting because I so admire your ability to do X, Y, Z …” – works. Bring a resume or written materials to leave. Be sure to say thank you, whether the sponsor signs on or not.
8. Don’t be a drag. You may want weekly meetings, long emails, regular lunches, or monthly phone calls. The key is to find out what works for your sponsor. Ask – and always remember, this is a favor!
9. Reciprocate and show your appreciation. For this to work, it’s got to be a two-way street. That requires you to listen and to be savvy about how you can support your sponsor and demonstrate your gratitude. Keep your sponsor updated with a quick email when good things happen. Send an occasional small gift – maybe flowers, a book, or a bottle of wine (if appropriate) to mark a special occasion or accomplishment. When you can, find ways to promote your sponsor to important others.
10. NEVER LET YOUR SPONSOR DOWN. This may go without saying, but it’s important enough to say loud and clear. Deliver as promised. Better yet: deliver more than promised – and behave in ways that reflect positively on someone who has faith in you.