Black women are at the top of our game right now. We’re slaying the boardroom and everything in between. However, as we climb higher up the corporate (or entrepreneurial) ladder many of us tend to make the same mistake when it comes to building our “career team.”
Make no mistake about it: Your career success is not just based on your own merit — but of those who invest in, believe in, and sponsor you. And in order to keep your coins in order (and growing), you need to know the difference. A mentor is one who guides and advises in the hope that you attract a sponsor. A sponsor uniquely has the power to impact your career directly and influence a promotion or raise. You may not even know if someone is sponsoring you, because they may be an impressed senior executive who sings your praises when you’re not in the room — calling for you to be placed on projects and for you to have a seat at the table. Stop counting on online searches for career advice and depend on real people who are invested in your success.
Here are a key factors to keep in mind to help you secure your coins.
A mentor is your personal career coach. Think of any good coach — they teach you plays to win a game and prepare you with necessary practice. A good mentor does the same. You cannot level up without a view from the top and a mentor shows you the ropes and coaches you just the same. Most people typically undertake a particular career for a significant period of their life. It is mandatory to have career counsel for positive progression.
They offer counsel and guidance during the negotiation phase. Negotiation is intimidating, but it’s necessary to get what you financially deserve. You may literally be leaving money on the table by not knowing the tricks of the trade. Before you even get to the offer phase, a mentor should prepare you for what’s to come — interview pointers, compensation conversations, and they may even have contacts at the company where you’re applying and be able to make a referral phone call for you.
Did you know that many companies set aside a predetermined amount of money for spot bonuses, and signing bonuses? You may be eligible for a signing bonus with a mid-level to senior level position. But, if you do not know to ask about bonuses, you may never receive it. Moreover, there is incredible power in tactfully negotiating company stock, title changes, being able to work from home, professional development conferences, training and events, professional membership fees, tuition reimbursement, a company sponsored certificate program, commuting expenses, as well as additional vacation days. All of these valuable things positively impact your income and topics that a mentor can coach you through. A mentor also coaches you in asking for more money during the offer process, annual reviews and times in between.
They’ll set you straight when it comes to knowing your worth. There are a few topics that people say are off limits such as religion, politics, and money. Let’s change that now — talk about money with the right people! You need a dependable and trustworthy mentor to discuss salary with on a quarterly basis to keep you in-line with financial career goals. You can find salaries on LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Salary.com amongst others, but nothing is more reliable then hearing a salary range from a mentor who really knows what they’re talking about and probably has other mentees at your level. You should always have real-life examples for salary comparisons.
Mentors teach you about “performance currency.” Mentors help you to develop performance currency, which is generated by you going above and beyond what’s asked of you in your role. Mentors do this by reminding you to surpass expectations. Good mentors encourage you to keep a personal performance brag sheet including a list of items, roles, and activities that you’ve accomplished that are above your traditional responsibilities.
Mentors coach you to earn “relationship currency.” Mentors coach you on how to earn relationship currency at work. This is generated in the investments you make in people. For optimum career growth, it’s imperative that those of influence in your organization know who you are, and your mentor will teach you how to navigate those relationships. Your success will always be dependent upon someone else’s opinion of you and moreover based on fans rooting for you and cheering you on. Together, performance and relationship currency increases income.