You are bombarded with advertisements from providers of products and services in various forms of new and traditional media. Traditionally, when listening to a radio or watching a television program you would hear the words: “and now a word from our sponsors”. With the expansion of the Internet and its various offerings, on-line advertisements are everywhere and often annoying and overwhelming. Unlike traditionally when you could listen to and watch the content before you had to listen to or watch the advertisement, when you listen or watch content on-line it is the reverse, the advertisement appears before you can listen to or watch the content.
Sponsorship of charitable causes and initiatives, cultural venues and programs and the talented artists that present and perform their work to grateful audiences and competitive sports and its top-level athletes continues to expand as more and more companies globally seeing the benefits of sponsorship both to their product and/or service and their bottom line. These companies recognize that sponsorships enhance their public image and strengthen brand awareness.
In contrast, individuals, whether they work in large, medium or small organizations in the public or private sectors rarely see themselves as brands. Yet it seems that many individuals who are successfully climbing the ladders to the pinnacles of their organizations have done this with some strategic help in the form of a sponsor who has made it their mission to guide their career and to promote their brand.
Many individuals in organizations have mentors people who are more knowledgeable and experienced who are eager and willing to transfer their skills and knowledge. However, those individuals who want to go far and fast in an organization have a sponsor. The sponsor is someone at the executive level of the organization who either identifies an individual with high potential or is matched with someone who is a top performer. This executive is often someone who has had a meteoric rise in the organization and is one of its brightest stars. It is the sponsor who on behalf of the individual will skilfully and strategically open doors, make introductions, offer opportunities and be invested in the success of the person whom they are sponsoring. If the individual succeeds, they succeed. Successful people are even more successful when they help others to be successful.
You may feel reluctant to seek out a sponsor because you think that you lack sufficient competence or confidence. Or you may feel uncertain and uncomfortable about what is involved in having a sponsor. Before you seek out a sponsor, you may want to be your own best advertisement by preparing your brand by defining your identity and packaging your brand by enhancing your image. If you are fortunate, you will have a sponsor who will help you do this. Many individuals, especially those who work in large organizations, often ask me how they can continue to rise through the ranks or how they can expand their knowledge and experience by pursuing opportunities in other areas of the organization. Often, my response is: “Do you have a sponsor?”
As the year come to close and many of you are in the midst of performance and development discussions, perhaps one of the topics should be about getting a sponsor. If the answer is no, you may want to take matters in your own hands and find a sponsor in your organization. Have no fear about asking someone far more senior than you. You may be surprised by their positive response and their eagerness to get started. Imagine starting off the new year with a sponsor to guide and promote you and your brand.
My wish for 2015 is that you can say: “and now a word from my sponsor”.