How to find a mentor to fast-track your career success

How to find a mentor to fast-track your career success

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Today I heard from a lovely new connection on LinkedIn , who responded to a recent post I shared about Why Your Job Search Has Stalled Out. He asked a question I hear frequently from professionals who know that mentorship is important to their careers, but don’t know how to achieve it.

“In my pursuit of THE job (not just any job), I have so far addressed all your recommendations but mentorship. This is the stage where I have stalled out. I have found many professionals that have shared my dreams and are now big successes in the industry, but find myself hesitant in approaching them and asking for help. These hesitations may be due to me not wanting to come across as needy, but I think they mostly stem from lacking the trigger words that would inspire acceptance of such a request. I really need help in this area and humbly ask for your help in the follow-through of this job hunting step.”

I’d love to tackle this question, because so many people I speak to are struggling in their approach to finding mentors, and are ending up disappointed, angry or confused.

Below are the top 4 tips I can share about finding fabulous mentors, and making the most of the help you receive:

First, it’s critical to know that, to find great mentors, you don’t want to reach out to strangers. That’s not how you’ll find them.

Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Lean In, likens asking strangers to be mentors to the behavior of the main character in the favorite children’s book Are You My Mother? The book is about a baby bird that emerges from its shell in an empty nest, and goes in search of its mother. The little bird asks everything it sees (a kitten, hen, dog, cow, steam shovel), “Are you my mother?” The answer is always the same. “No!” This is just like a professional asking a stranger, “Will you be my mentor?”

“If someone has to ask the question, the answer is probably no. When someone finds the right mentor, it is obvious. The question becomes a statement. Chasing or forcing that connection rarely works.”

Instead, find great mentors through the inspiring people you’re already interacting and working with now. They need to be people to whom you have already demonstrated your potential – who know how you think, act, communicate and contribute. And they have to like, trust and believe in you already (why else would they help you?). They also need to believe with absolutely certainty that you’ll put to great use all their input and feedback.

Strangers (especially people in the media and the public eye who’ve become “huge” successes, as the individual above mentions) will virtually always have to say “no” to mentoring requests from strangers. Why? Because their time is already spoken for, and they’re drowning in similar requests. Secondly, they don’t have a relationship with you, and therefore can’t know how you operate or if it’s a great investment of their time to help you.

Find your mentors among the people you know who are 10 steps ahead of you in your field, role, or industry, doing what you want to, in the way you want to. Connect with new people who you can help, and who will find it a mutually-rewarding and beneficial experience to support you. If you don’t know of any inspiring people that fit this bill, you need to go out and find them. Here are some great tips from Kerry Hannon about finding a mentor, and from Judy Robinett about networking that generates amazing results.

2. What can you do to get on the radar of strangers whom you admire?

Don’t ask for mentorship, but follow their work, and be helpful and supportive. Give, and give more. Tweet out their posts, comment in a positive way on their blogs, share their updates, start a discussion on LinkedIn drawing on their post, refer new clients or business to them, and the list goes on. In short, offer your unique voice, perspectives, experiences and resources to further the action and conversation that these influencers have sparked. Understand that you are able to be of service to them, and go out and do it.

3. Be someone who is enjoyable to mentor.

The third piece of attracting empowering mentoring is in how you operate in your career and your life. Are you somebody you yourself would like to mentor? Are you open, flexible, resilient, respectful? Are you eager to learn, and committed to modifying how you’re interacting in the world so you can have even more success, reward and happiness?

– Be great at what you do – while this sounds obvious, it is the most important thing you can do to get noticed.

– Ask for more responsibility – be sure to have specific ideas for how you can contribute in deeper, more expansive ways. Be creative/think outside the box.

– Don’t be a wallflower – participate in all meetings even “optional” ones. Volunteer to represent your team on important department or enterprise-level initiatives. Prepare ahead of time so that you can meaningfully advance the discussion.

– Promote the success of others – your generosity and openness are critical to your success, and will be remembered.

– Build your support network – reach out to groups within your company and outside your line of business. Learn what they do and how you can help them succeed.

4. Put yourself in a potential mentor’s shoes.

Finally, whenever you’re in a quandary about how to get help from someone, put yourself in their shoes. If the tables were turned, what would you want to see from this individual asking for help? If you were inundated with requests for help every day, what type of person would YOU choose to assist, and why? Go out and become that person that others would love to support and nurture.

Here’s the bottom line: The answers to all your networking and career-building questions aren’t as far away as they seem. They’re right inside of you. Just understand that you have much more to offer than you realize. Imagine yourself in the shoes of those you deeply respect and admire, who’ve had fabulous success in the same ways you want it. Then imagine your “future self” already achieving this tremendous success. Ask your future self what to do. And always conduct yourself — in life and in work — as one who is doing all that’s necessary to attract (and offer) fabulous, high-level help and support.

To build more career success, take my Career Success Readiness quiz and visit The Amazing Career Project.

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How to find a mentor to fast-track your career success

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A mentor can be key to career success, but the mentee must play an active role in their own career development.

In brief

  • Being a mentee is much more than simply receiving wisdom.
  • The best mentors have skills that you can’t read about in a textbook.
  • One in six mentoring pairs fail because core values don’t align.

By Leo D’Angelo Fisher.

Very few aspects of how we live, consume and work have been untouched by digitisation.

When it comes to business, the rule book is in a state of flux as the digital economy demands radical rethinks of how we structure our organisations, conduct our work and service our customers. So where does that leave one of the oldest sources of influence and guidance in business – the mentor?

The relationship between mentor and mentee (usually) enables young professionals and future leaders to learn from the experience and wisdom of (usually) older peers.

Learn from experience and wisdom

Whatever else may be changing in the digital word, says Peter Wilson, author of Make Mentoring Work, the value of learning from the experience of others has not.

“The way we work has changed dramatically, there’s no doubt about that, but relationships haven’t changed. People are still people, we just operate in a different way,” Wilson says.

Wilson embodies the ideal mentor. As a 35-year career executive, Wilson held leadership roles with Amcor, Energy 21 Group and ANZ Bank. Today, the Melbourne-based company director remains an influential business figure as Chairman of the Australian Human Resources Institute and President of the Washington-based World Federation of People Management Associations.

Wilson’s best-selling book, now in its second edition, is testament to the continuing – and growing – role of mentoring in business and the professions.

“The essential value from mentoring comes from the fact that reading and ‘doing’ on the job won’t be enough to equip a modern worker or emerging leader with sufficient knowledge to understand and acquire [necessary] skills and experiences,” he says.

These skills and experiences include:

  • handling complex personalities and human relationships
  • managing stakeholders, power structures and building networks
  • managing uncertainty and ambiguity
  • resolving challenging ethical and moral dilemmas.

Being a mentee is much more than simply receiving wisdom. Wilson says it is vital that mentees are “very focused” on what they want to achieve from a mentoring relationship and “very honest” about whether the relationship is producing the desired outcomes.

Mentors and their mentees should meet every four to six weeks on average, Wilson advises. Scheduling regular meetings, rather than taking an ad hoc approach, is more likely to maintain the frequency and continuity necessary to develop an effective mentoring relationship. While the duration of a mentoring relationship varies, Wilson says 12-18 months is typical.

Mentoring is a collaborative experience

Mentoring, Wilson insists, is a “collaborative learning experience” between mentor and mentee, with a “mutual responsibility to … define and achieve clear and mutually defined work, learning and career goals”.

The characteristics of a successful mentor include “significant” relevant experience, wisdom, credibility, patience and the ability to communicate directly and clearly. In a successful mentoring relationship mentees are expected to:

  • initiate and sustain productive relationships with their mentor
  • develop skills and approaches to deal with the senior echelons of complex organisations
  • accelerate their personal change and growth expectations
  • identify professional growth and development areas relevant to their career path
  • set and realise new goals, strategies and processes.

“Mentees must take proactive responsibility for their own career development,” Wilson says, and he stresses the value of proactively searching for appropriate mentors.

“Mentees must take proactive responsibility for their own career development.” Peter Wilson, author of Make Mentoring Work.

Helen Silver, Chief General Manager of Workers Compensation at insurer Allianz Australia is a strong believer in the role of mentoring. Silver says the best mentors have leadership experience and skills “that you can’t read about in a textbook”.

“They all have great insights into complex problems and what’s inherently right or wrong in any issue you are likely to encounter,” she says.

Silver’s advice when choosing a mentor is to think deliberately about your career. She advises people to conceptualise where they want to be in the short and medium term, identify the skills and experience needed to achieve career goals, and not to be afraid to seek out mentors with the experience they can benefit from.

Wilson agrees that having identified a potential mentor, mentees must actively pursue their choice. In most cases, he adds, one only has to ask.

“I’m amazed by the benevolent spirit of senior leaders in Australian government and business. Don’t be intimidated if you see someone you can learn from. Ask, and almost certainly you will get a ‘yes’,” he explains.

“These are people who have achieved [success as leaders] and they want to give back. Usually they’re just waiting to be asked.”

A critical part of starting a mentoring relationship is the first few meetings between prospective mentor and mentee to test compatibility. One in six mentoring pairs fail, according to Wilson, because of “poor values alignment and cultural fit”.

In the first meeting, mentor and mentee should have similar objectives:

  • get to know each other, including home lives and family backgrounds
  • establish a hallmark of candour, openness and compatible value sets
  • set a challenging professional standard for future discussions
  • openly question and probe whether the right chemistry is being established.

“Once the right chemistry is established for ongoing discussions after the first few meetings, the mentoring pair should also set clear objectives or goals for the relationship,” Wilson says.

“The ultimate onus for initiating and concluding this really lies with the mentee as the agreement is primarily to assist that person’s career development.”

Mentoring support

See the Member Services section of the Chartered Accountants ANZ website for mentoring support.

Leo D’Angelo Fisher is a journalist, writer and commentator.

This article was first published in the Feb/Mar 2017 issue of Acuity magazine.

By Perminus Wainaina

Achieving career success depends on your dedication, skills set, and how well you position yourself for your ideal job along with how well you relate with your boss and colleagues. Having a great mentor can also accelerate your career success because they will give you knowledge on how to go about it as opposed to “flying blind”.

A mentor is someone who is more experienced than you are in a specific area in which you seek guidance. It could also be someone you look up to maybe because they hold a position you would like to hold someday or how they conduct their job.

So what is the importance of a mentor in your career success?

1.You learn from their lessons

As a beginner, you probably have a lot of difficulties you have to face. This is where a mentor comes in, because they are experienced, they help prepare you for those challenges and guide you on how to navigate them.

A mentor will help you by showing you the ropes of the industry for example if you are in the sales industry a good mentor would give you techniques that work.

They are in a better position to guide you because they have been there. They can also help you avoid making mistakes that can delay your career success because they probably made similar mistakes and picked up lessons from them.

2. They will help you make important decisions

There will come a time when you will have to make an important but difficult decision and having a great mentor will help make a better judgement of the situation. Because they are able to look at the situation objectively, they will be in a better position to give you unbiased advice as well as experience based guidance in the situation.

3.They will hold you accountable.

One way to ensure you achieve career success is by sharing your dreams with someone else. A mentor will help you come up with a career plan and ensure you stick to it by constantly checking in on you.

This will make you accountable which would mean that you will work harder at it because you have someone to hold you accountable if you don’t.

4.They will put your career on the fast track

Having a mentor will help fast track your career if you choose one carefully. If you have a mentor who is a manager or CEO, they will guide you through their career experience and bring you closer to where they are career-wise. A mentor will also guide you through networking activities while also sharing and or introducing you to their networks which is very likely to open new doors for you.

5.They will help you improve your skills

Because they have been in the industry for long, they know what works and what skills will grow your career.

Your mentor will help you by guiding you on the skills you need to acquire to progress in your career.

Tips to help you maintain a good relationship with your mentor

1.Honor your commitment

It is important for you to respect the fact that your mentor may have taken up on extra duty mentoring you hence the need to honor the time they set aside for you.

That means that for example if you agree to meet at a certain time ensure you are there by then or if you have to reply to messages, do so in a timely manner. Avoid wasting any of your mentor’s time as it would only strain your relationship.

2.Expect support, not miracles

This is very important to remember. Your mentor is there to guide you and offer you support but they cannot fix your problems for you.

They will offer feedback on certain things but they will not do all the work for you.

3.Be teachable

In order for you to learn from your mentor, you need to be teachable. This means you need to be willing to learn new things and change your way of thinking. Take constructive criticism into consideration and work on the issues brought up.

Your relationship with your mentor can grow into a mutually beneficial networking one. You never know who you might meet courtesy of your mentor and how that can better your career.

Perminus Wainaina is a Certified HR Consultant, Career Coach and Managing Partner of Corporate Staffing Services, a leading recruitment firm in Kenya. As a career coach, Perminus works with experienced professionals in helping them determine and achieve what they want in their career Click here for more on career coaching.

N.B: Would you like us to consider you for a job opening? Boost your job search. Upload Your CV Here . It’s FREE

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How to find a mentor to fast-track your career success

Today there are many opportunities for career, business and personal growth. This article is the first in a series about how to fast-track your career (to see an overview of the system, check out Four Steps to Fast-Track Your Career.) I will address each of the four steps in detail and discuss insights gained over 30 years of building a company to operations at 25 locations across the U.S. and $300 million in sales.

Step No. 1 to fast-track your career is about the importance of communication. Saying “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am” is a good start. You must also take your job seriously, and show your leaders, peers and customers that you respect each of them and their role on the team. To get on the fast-track, you must contribute to the goals and priorities of the team, and be loyal to proponents and supporters. This makes you the right person for advancement. This encourages your leaders, peers and customers to support you and to choose you for a new responsibility or position.

Become an ICON and you’re on your way. Each day, you communicate. You attend meetings, send emails, make formal presentations or submit products. An “icon” is defined as “any person or thing that is revered.” The first step to fast-track your career, “ICON” stands for:

Invest. Create. Open Up. Never Be Late.

I: Invest in the team. Believe you are important because there is a direct relationship between your success and the success or failure of your team and the company. Do more than the minimum. Work to complete tasks on time, and view your company’s money as your own.

The fast track is the road to becoming a key member of the team. On the fast track, people solve problems, seize opportunities and guide the future of the team. Every company, nonprofit or team wants their key people to be around for many years. When leaders, peers and customers see your investment in the team, they will invest in you.

C: Create a ‘yes . if’ strategy. What’s your ideal job in the company? Create a strategy to get it. It is easy to create a long “no … because” list of obstacles to selecting the job and a longer list against pursuing it. Instead, create a “yes … if” list. You may find that you can complete many items on the list. Then, make a commitment to complete these items, and enlist other individuals to help with the rest.

Before you select your target job, you should meet with your supervisor. Your supervisor is responsible for supporting your career path within the company and has insight that affects your decision and strategy. Your supervisor’s support is important. So, take the initiative to meet periodically with your supervisor to review progress, obtain feedback and make adjustments. This will accelerate your advancement within the company.

O: Open up. Be open to new ideas, suggestions and criticism. Fight the urge to say, “I already did that” or “that doesn’t work because …” Instead, ask questions: “How will this help me complete a task or achieve a long-term goal? Where has this worked before? Do I know anyone who can help me with this?” The answers will help you refine and strengthen your approach.

Expect 10 disappointments for every success. You will learn something from every disappointment. Look closely at the disappointments, and don’t make excuses. Make a list of the unexpected events, incorrect assumptions and mistakes that come up along the way. Use this list to change your strategy and try again.

N: Never be late. Plan to complete tasks two days early. This allows you to meet deadlines when the unexpected occurs. Completing a task early also gives you the opportunity to have someone you trust review your product and catch careless errors. It is also important to plan to arrive at a meeting five to 10 minutes early. Individuals who are already on the fast track will be there. And this is an opportunity to listen to and learn from them.

When you are late, you tell everyone you don’t care. When you do not complete your task on time, you have concluded that the deadline and the person who set the deadline are unimportant. When you arrive late to a meeting, you tell everyone you do not value their time, and that no one is more important than you.

Do you have what it takes to be an ICON?

Becoming an ICON is not easy. Like most things worthy of admiration or respect, you must commit yourself to the drive, discipline and improvement required. Once you do, you will find that momentum builds, and advancement comes quickly.

As an ICON, you bring drive, energy and confidence. You inspire those around you to aggressively pursue opportunities, solve problems and enhance performance. Each day will be an adventure. And both the successes and disappointments will motivate you to the next challenge.

“a good mentor is like a side view mirror. They look out for your blind spots.” Author Unknown
Where’s Your Blind Spot? – Toastmaster International

The concept of constructing a mentoring board, also known as a personal board of advisors. The personal board process and benefits are described in an Inc. article entitled Mentor Isn’t Enough. You Need to Build a Personal Board of Advisers. Your goal, in completing in this exercise, as Inc explains, should be to “appoint a board of directors, advisers who can provide expertise that you lack.” To build a personal board is not enough, you want to customize your board to fit your lifestyle. It’s up to you to align your specific career aspirations so you establish a board composition with your goals at the forefront.

Next, encompass a diverse membership for your personal to provide you varied perspectives. For me, as an African American woman, I intentionally selected a white male, white female, black male, and black female. The demographic makeup should not matter but this technique of intentional selection exposes me to people I normally may not can communicate with freely in my work environment and provides me a “panoramic view.” By performing strategic actions, this ensures I have trusted confidants.

Three key steps will lead you to success in crafting a personal board.

Develop Self Awareness
According to Inc., “creating a helpful board of advisers depends largely on an individual’s accurate assessment of his or her strengths and weaknesses;” “do the work to know you.”
(1) Employ journals, learning logs, and other after-action reviews.” To truly know you, I feel it is best to take an assessment: (Myers-Briggs Type Indicators, Disc, etc.) to name a few. Tools provide invaluable insight into your individual composition, leading to greater insight about yourself.
(2) Adopt a periodical to read regularly that matches your technical interests to stay abreast of trends in your field so you embrace the readings.
(3) Subscribe to your professional organization’s publication regularly as well as their social media presence for up-to-date information on workshops and other learning events. This engagement provides a dual use: to locate your perfect fit of mentoring board members or renowned experts in your specialty. Do not limit yourself to people in your geographic areas, but apply enhanced technology outreach (Zoom, LinkedIn, Gotomeeting, etc.) to connect with your board members.

Broaden membership in your personal board of advisers.
The Inc. article equates this process to creating: “a diverse portfolio of investments” … a personal advisory board from multiple sources.” Go deep and wide to find a conducive learning and development environment that helps you. Choose to join professional organizations with people of like ambitions. I find the highest “return on investment (ROI)” is best attained when you attend in-person and participate in pre-meeting network events to bolster connections. Later after you are familiar with the stakeholders, you may attend online webinars. Take advantage of introductions to key contributors (track your new contact) or experts in your field who may not be accessible to you on a day-to-day basis. If you are employed, check to see if professional memberships are covered as a benefit by your employer or university through a grant. If you are in a job transition, you may consider using professional membership dues coverage as a negotiation point when securing your next position.

Allow your network to evolve and change

A personal board develops you and the Inc article precludes that:

“one evolves over time as one’s career unfolds and one’s life changes”.

You may need to (hire or fire) persons on your board to advance over time. Continual learning positions you to be in a readiness state. Peruse LinkedIn and request brief informational interviews with folks you admire or match your professional aspirations (no more than 20 minutes). Another technique is follow your favorite company or join a group on LinkedIn or Google Hangout. Meetup.com is another excellent tool to link people of common interests. Due to the fast pace of change within technology, staying current is a mandatory requirement. Attend a quarterly workshop or in-house training at a leading vendor site. Keep momentum going toward your personal and professional progress. Be intentional and pay attention – Productivityist

Takeaway:

a) Know the difference between a mentor and sponsor when constructing a personal board.

b) Know your strengths and areas of improvement

c) Be strategic and who why you selected members of your personal and the key objective for adding this person to your personal board portfolio

Benefit: Gain an understanding of the difference between a mentor and a sponsor to propel yourself to a new level in your civic engagements, organizations, or school/university.

“A mentor talks to you, and a Sponsor speaks for you”

Carol Fulp on Momentum Advisors on SiriusXM Urban View( Aug 18, 2019)

For additional information, study the following areas: Mentor board, Personal boards, Mentors, and Sponsors.

Book Reference: “Forget a Mentor, Get A Sponsor” by Sylvia Ann Hewlett

By Perminus Wainaina

Achieving career success depends on your dedication, skills set, and how well you position yourself for your ideal job along with how well you relate with your boss and colleagues. Having a great mentor can also accelerate your career success because they will give you knowledge on how to go about it as opposed to “flying blind”.

A mentor is someone who is more experienced than you are in a specific area in which you seek guidance. It could also be someone you look up to maybe because they hold a position you would like to hold someday or how they conduct their job.

So what is the importance of a mentor in your career success?

1.You learn from their lessons

As a beginner, you probably have a lot of difficulties you have to face. This is where a mentor comes in, because they are experienced, they help prepare you for those challenges and guide you on how to navigate them.

A mentor will help you by showing you the ropes of the industry for example if you are in the sales industry a good mentor would give you techniques that work.

They are in a better position to guide you because they have been there. They can also help you avoid making mistakes that can delay your career success because they probably made similar mistakes and picked up lessons from them.

2. They will help you make important decisions

There will come a time when you will have to make an important but difficult decision and having a great mentor will help make a better judgement of the situation. Because they are able to look at the situation objectively, they will be in a better position to give you unbiased advice as well as experience based guidance in the situation.

3.They will hold you accountable.

One way to ensure you achieve career success is by sharing your dreams with someone else. A mentor will help you come up with a career plan and ensure you stick to it by constantly checking in on you.

This will make you accountable which would mean that you will work harder at it because you have someone to hold you accountable if you don’t.

4.They will put your career on the fast track

Having a mentor will help fast track your career if you choose one carefully. If you have a mentor who is a manager or CEO, they will guide you through their career experience and bring you closer to where they are career-wise. A mentor will also guide you through networking activities while also sharing and or introducing you to their networks which is very likely to open new doors for you.

5.They will help you improve your skills

Because they have been in the industry for long, they know what works and what skills will grow your career.

Your mentor will help you by guiding you on the skills you need to acquire to progress in your career.

Tips to help you maintain a good relationship with your mentor

1.Honor your commitment

It is important for you to respect the fact that your mentor may have taken up on extra duty mentoring you hence the need to honor the time they set aside for you.

That means that for example if you agree to meet at a certain time ensure you are there by then or if you have to reply to messages, do so in a timely manner. Avoid wasting any of your mentor’s time as it would only strain your relationship.

2.Expect support, not miracles

This is very important to remember. Your mentor is there to guide you and offer you support but they cannot fix your problems for you.

They will offer feedback on certain things but they will not do all the work for you.

3.Be teachable

In order for you to learn from your mentor, you need to be teachable. This means you need to be willing to learn new things and change your way of thinking. Take constructive criticism into consideration and work on the issues brought up.

Your relationship with your mentor can grow into a mutually beneficial networking one. You never know who you might meet courtesy of your mentor and how that can better your career.

Perminus Wainaina is a Certified HR Consultant, Career Coach and Managing Partner of Corporate Staffing Services, a leading recruitment firm in Kenya. As a career coach, Perminus works with experienced professionals in helping them determine and achieve what they want in their career Click here for more on career coaching.

N.B: Would you like us to consider you for a job opening? Boost your job search. Upload Your CV Here . It’s FREE

Comments

Thank you
I really appreciate for all have have from your website.

How to find a mentor to fast-track your career success

When you think of people who have sponsors, you probably conjure images of professional cyclists or race-car drivers with company logos emblazoned on their outfits. But there’s a different kind of sponsorship that any professional—not just big-name athletes—can use to their benefit.

In her new book, “(Forget a Mentor) Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast Track Your Career,” economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett hails sponsors as modern-day career linchpins. “Like mentors, sponsors can advise and steer you, but their chief role is to develop you as a leader,” Hewlett says. Translation: A mentor can guide you to the right doors, but a sponsor will help you knock them down—and even knock them down for you.

And Hewlett certainly knows a thing or two about the benefits of having a great sponsor. Before she went on to launch her highly successful think tank, the Center for Talent Innovation, she says that sponsorship was “crucial to my education and earning a coveted spot at Cambridge University.”

Given her positive experiences, we asked Hewlett to share her top tips for attracting the right sponsor—and the key mistakes to avoid along the way.

Where did you get the idea to write this book?

I grew up in the poor Welsh mining valleys of Britain, and I knew early on that I wanted to have a better life than what my surroundings could offer. I was fortunate to have quite a few vital sponsors who supported my education and my career. I also learned early in life that meritocracy and hard work will only get you so far in this world—sponsors are the ones who really create traction for you, and bring your career to the next level.

What’s the difference between a sponsor and a mentor?

In short, mentors advise, while sponsors act. Sponsors deliver by making you visible to leaders within the company, as well as top people outside. They connect you to career opportunities, and provide air cover when you encounter trouble. When it comes to opening doors, they don’t stop with one promotion—they’ll see you to the threshold of power.

How to find a mentor to fast-track your career success

What should someone look for in a sponsor?

Role models are great, but they may not prove to be effective sponsors, so put efficacy over affinity. You need to be very strategic and tactful by looking for a sponsor with the power to change your career and become a strategic ally—someone with similar goals and aspirations. And don’t be put off by certain leadership styles; you need to respect your sponsor, not emulate him or her. In the end, it’s a sponsor’s clout, not style, that will turbocharge your career.

How do you ask someone to be your sponsor?

Sponsorship isn’t something that you can ask for or win—you must earn your way into it. Keep in mind that a sponsor’s reputation is on the line, so they are looking to feel completely confident that you will not only get the job done, but you’ll also excel at it. So to successfully find a sponsor, you must prove your worth, get them to trust you, and show your ability to deliver excellent results and performance.

How many sponsors does the average person need?

In today’s globalized economy, you cannot afford to put all of your eggs in one basket. The consensus in focus groups is what we’ve come to call the two-plus-one rule: Inside your organization you need two sponsors; outside, you need one.

In your book, you talk about how women especially need sponsorship. Why is that?

Often women languish in the “marzipan layer” of companies, which is that sticky middle slice of management where so many driven and talented people get stuck. But our research at the Center for Talent Innovation shows that sponsors, not mentors, put you on the path to power and influence by affecting three things: pay raises, high-profile assignments and promotions.

We also learned that the individuals who are most satisfied with their rate of advancement are those with sponsors: Fully 70% of sponsored men and 68% of sponsored women feel that they are progressing through the ranks at a satisfactory pace, compared to 57% of their unsponsored peers.

How to find a mentor to fast-track your career success

Image by None via CrunchBase

The latest book from leading business thinker Sylvia Ann Hewlett, “Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career”, makes the case that Sponsorship is the linchpin of successful careers. Unlike mentors, who support mainly from the sidelines in terms of advice and encouragement, sponsors are hands-on in your career. Sponsors propose you for plum assignments, protect you when things go wrong, and give you important feedback even when it’s critical or hard-to-hear.

The book is laden with firsthand accounts of career successes and misses due to sponsorship (or lack thereof), including anecdotes from Joanna Coles, Editor In Chief of Cosmopolitan, and Sallie Krawcheck, former president of Bank of America Wealth Management. I particularly liked how candidly Hewlett called out the special challenges for professionals of color and LGBT professionals. This is a must-read book for anyone looking for substantive, exhaustively researched advice on career advancement.

My 5 favorite takeaways:

Build a castle

Hewlett emphasizes the importance of having a big vision. Sponsors are looking for people with ambition, drive, and the passion to make a huge impact.

Choose efficacy over affinity

Hewlett cautions against looking for sponsors only among people you like. The best sponsor is not going to be your friend and may not even by friendly. You’re looking for someone with clout.

Remember the 2+1 rule

Hewlett shares the story of a fast-track entertainment producer abruptly sidelined when her one and only sponsor bolted for a competitor. This producer was tied to the now-defector and lost credibility and security. Hewlett recommends two sponsors internal to your firm, as well as one sponsor outside.

Lead with Yes

Sponsors don’t just invest their clout and risk their political capital on you because they like you. Sponsors expect high performance and fierce loyalty. Leading with Yes means that the worthiest protégés dive into complex and difficult situations. Hewlett provides multiple examples of protégés taking high-stress, travel-intensive, and other difficult assignments on behalf of their sponsor.

Develop your currency

Currency is Hewlett’s catchphrase for unique value, and she emphasizes how your currency helps you stand out amidst all the others with commanding castles and predispositions to Yes.

“Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career” by Sylvia Ann Hewlett is a fascinating and important read. Sponsorship is definitely critical. However, mentorship and networks still have their place, and Hewlett acknowledges this. In fact, I heard Hewlett speak and received a copy of this book from one of my professional networks, 85 Broads.

Networks, mentors, sponsorship. Do you have all of these working towards your career advancement? What do you need to focus on? What has worked for you?

Caroline Ceniza-Levine, career and business expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of SixFigureStart®, works with people who want to make a change –from one career to a new one; from employee to entrepreneur; from manager to executive. She’s also a stand-up comic, so she’s not your typical coach.

How to find a mentor to fast-track your career success

Get answers to common career questions on my YouTube channel. I am the founder of the Dream Career Club and a recruiter, career coach and media personality on the job

Get answers to common career questions on my YouTube channel. I am the founder of the Dream Career Club and a recruiter, career coach and media personality on the job market. In addition to Forbes, I formerly wrote for Money, CNBC and Portfolio and have appeared as a guest career expert on CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX Business and other media outlets. I am also a stand-up comic, so not your same-old talking head.

As a recruiter, I hired C-level executives through recent graduates, in Fortune 500 companies and start-ups, in tech, media, financial services, non-profit and education.

As a coach, I have worked with professionals from Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, Tesla, and other leading firms.