Sponsoring vs. Mentoring

Anyone who wants to build a successful career understands how difficult it is, especially when your supervisor overlooks you and your merits. People start to lose faith in their abilities because they don’t know what they need to do to get in front of the right people. Finding sponsors and mentors is necessary to building a successful career. In this article, you will learn more about who sponsors, and mentors are and the difference between them.

The concept of sponsorship and mentoring: easy to confuse

People often confuse the concept of a sponsor and a mentor because both mean someone with a lot of experience who supervises another professional. Their job is to advise a person through their career path, but sometimes they may focus on something more specific, an activity or interest. Both professionals advise their mentees and provide constructive criticism so that they can successfully develop their activities. Mentors and sponsors play a major role in your journey from rank-and-file to leader. However, despite these similarities, a mentor and a sponsor are different.

What is a mentor?

A mentor is a person who helps you by giving you good advice and guidance so you can move ahead in your career. Mentors are usually people who work in the same industry as you, so they become what is known as a role models. You can ask them questions about your area of work and ask them what they would do in a particular situation because the mentor has already achieved the goals that you are striving for. Mentors help not only with words but also with actions because they can arrange for you to meet other people who can offer you a profitable partnership. Mentors come of all ages, and absolutely everyone, even executives, can use their services.

Reverse mentoring is the mentoring in which a younger person mentors an older person. This happens when a more senior professional is confronted with new concepts and needs to understand them.

What is a sponsor?

A sponsor will advocate for you and your interests. Usually, your leaders are sponsors. Sponsors are more proactive in getting you in the limelight and ensuring everyone around you knows your name. They will make recommendations about you in promotions and to other companies and provide oodles of other opportunities. A sponsor is especially necessary for large organizations because your merits won’t speak for themselves, as most people assume; they need to speak for themselves.

The major difference between a mentor and a sponsor

So, the roles of mentor and sponsor are different in that:

  • Mentors don’t necessarily have to work for the same organization as you, and sponsors tend to come from the same company
  • The sponsor is more proactive in advocating for your career success, which is not typical for mentors. However, they both make very helpful recommendations
  • The mentor helps you to network, and the sponsor includes you in their professional networks

This means that sponsors are actively investing in your career, arranging your meetings with the right people, and using their connections to get you into management positions. This is not the primary goal for a mentor, although they may do it too. Instead, they are more focused on getting you to develop your competencies, so they share more of their knowledge and wisdom.