How to Strategically and Effectively Find a Sponsor at Work


20 copies available!

Leave a comment on this guest post by Bonnie Marcus to become eligible for one of 20 complimentary copies of her book, “The Politics of Promotion: How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead.” (Winners chosen randomly.)

(Deadline for eligibility is 9/28/2019. International winners will receive electronic versions.)

After 20 years watching, working with, and leading corporate organizations, I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) the importance of sponsorship for career advancement.

Sponsors and mentors are both important, but a sponsor is the most powerful relationship you can have.

A mentor may be an outside friend, your manager, or even a colleague within your organization who is willing to be a sounding board.

A sponsor will put his or her neck on the line for you. They use their power and influence for your benefit.

Unfortunately, compared to men, women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. This means women have to be even more proactive about seeking sponsorship.

When you’re ready to start looking for a sponsor, keep a few things in mind:

  • Check for an official sponsorship program within your organization, and then decide whether it meets your goals.
  • Examine your own network and take a close look at the power politics within your organization. Who do you know or need to know that has the potential to be your sponsor? Who could have the greatest impact on your career opportunities?
  • Do homework on your potential sponsor. Do they lead any committees? Volunteer for them. Figure out how you can contribute to their publicly stated goals. Make yourself sponsor-ready by making yourself useful to your potential sponsor.

If you’re working hard to make yourself an attractive protegee, you may get tapped on the shoulder. That’s the optimal way to get a sponsor. But don’t wait around for that to happen. Pursue a sponsor relationship with someone you respect. Prepare yourself appropriately, and then speak up—so that both of you don’t miss out on a potentially great opportunity.

How might leaders find sponsors?

Who helped you get ahead?


Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed., is an award-winning entrepreneur and president of Women’s Success Coaching. Bonnie uses her 20 years of sales experience to assist professional women in successfully navigating the workplace in order to position and promote themselves to advance their careers. Bonnie is passionate about  helping women learn to be sensitive to the culture of their organization to actively and intentionally move their careers forward with a sound strategic plan.