Join Rashim Mogha for an in-depth discussion in this video Building the sponsor relationship, part of Women Transforming Tech: Finding Sponsors.
- If you really look at it, if I go to someone and say, "Can you be my sponsor," the first thing comes to mind is "Sponsorship? Money. "No, I don't want to give you my money," right? So when you start thinking about sponsors, the way I recommend to do that is basically, it should be event driven. So for example, somebody released a book. You want to congratulate that and then take the conversation forward. Or maybe somebody released a new product so you would start the conversation with, "Congratulations on launching this great product. "You know, this is what I'm doing for this organization "and I would like to get an opportunity "for a 10 minute or a 15 minute conversation "to understand how we can collaborate." And that's a great way to initiate that conversation. Also, many people wait for in-person opportunities, right, to have that conversation. We have to remember that we live in a global world. People travel all the time so pick up the phone, talk to the person if you get an opportunity. So you want to understand whether the sponsor is the right fit for you or not. And sometimes, you know, people jump too quickly and say, "Oh my God, this person is somebody "whom I really admire "and I would love for you to be my sponsor," but you really don't know whether you work well with the person or not or whether the person is really, would be truly invested in moving you forward or projecting you as a leader. So you need to give the relationship some time to make that decision. So once kind of you establish that first contact with your sponsor, you have probably had a phone call, you want to drill down a little bit in terms of what initiatives the sponsor is working on and is that initiative a match for your skill set because that's important to identify. You also want to make sure that your work ethics, to a certain extent, align with the work ethics of the sponsor because if work ethics don't align, then probably you would not have that trust relationship with the sponsor. So those are the few things that you want to focus on. Now, the next step to take that relationship forward is keeping that sponsor warm which is keeping him or her updated on the new stuff that you're working on, how you are making an impact, an award that you won. You want to let the person know and then slowly start the conversation with, how can I help you versus how can that person help us, right? So it always has to start with you giving in something and building that trust relationship. So in my case, for example, I picked up low-effort, high-impact projects. That's what you should look at. Something where you can make a great impact in a week or so, right? Take on a project, do it well, and then go back to the sponsor and say, you know, "I would like to help you in your mission "to do whatever you are doing "and, you know, would love an opportunity "to work on one of your teams "or move to the next level" and that's how you take that conversation forward. So for me, I would recommend that you check in with your sponsors ever two to three weeks and you want to make sure that you are not out of sight out of mind for them. So it's important that you build that relationship and that relationship is going to build only when you bring value to them. You basically want to take the conversation forward by providing information and insight that your sponsor might not have. If you're proving them the same information that they have, then you're not of value to them. So, and then remember, it's a win win situation so you always want to contribute in to it. So once a sponsor helps you get the job or helps you get promoted, they are continuously invested in you because now, it's their reputation at stake if you do not perform at a job role then you know, it's their credibility that gets effected. So that's why I say it's a win win situation for both of you so keep them updated on what new things you are doing on your project. Kind of build that relationship further because you don't need the sponsor for just one promotion. You probably need them for other promotions or to help you drive your projects as well. So you want to keep that conversation going. It's like a bank. If you don't put in something, you won't be able to take out anything out of it.