In Vickie Elmer’s recent article, To get promoted, women need champions, not mentors, Elmer shares about the concept of sponsorship. This new concept is not to take away value from traditional professional mentoring, but instead, to enhance it. In the article, she shares two key qualities of a sponsor: someone who will endorse you in closed-door meetings, and support you in stormy moments. Doesn’t that sound absolutely fantastic?

For this to happen, here’s your responsibility: be the person worth championing.

Having someone become a champion for you at the level Elmer describes is much more than a cheerleader or coach. They are someone who will open their professional circle to you and help you make meaningful connections. It can shave years of networking off your career timeline, time they spent to grow their network.

Sponsorship is as valuable as sharing someone’s credit or having someone co-sign a loan for you. For opportunities like this, we have a responsibility to be worthy of such advocacy. Here are a few things you can do to position yourself for a champion.

• Be the best you can be. Strive for perfection, but realize it’s okay not to be perfect.
• Adhere to high professional standards an ethics. If I share my connections with you, I am vouching for you. Don’t let me down with your professional behavior and ethics.
• Build your network, so that you can also help others. True networking is reciprocal and by building meaningful connections of your own, you will be in a position to help others.
• Be able to make a commitment. A sponsor takes enormous risk, so you must be able to commit to the relationship.

How do you find a champion?

When seeking a champion, I look for someone who holds my same values and professional standards. I look for opportunities to meet people who match the demographics of those I want to serve. I begin by answering the question, who is my target audience? And then, I identify the influencers in this audience. From a small pool of candidates, I build relationships with people who I know I also can help. I’m willing to advance my sponsor’s cause and take the risk along with them.

Ferguson Jen - BW 3-8-2013 Jennifer Ferguson, CEO and Founder of Symphony Financial Team, provides comprehensive and coordinated planning for her clients.