“You show up for me, I show up for you.” This quote makes me think about sponsorship, and what it takes to earn, and be, a sponsor. Funny enough, I came across this quote while taking some of my own advice for self-care as I read through the editor in chief’s letter in the September 2019 issue of InStyle magazine during a recent vacation with my family. In the August President’s Letter, I talked about self-care and advocating for yourself. In this month’s letter, I’m choosing to focus on the topic of sponsorship and advocating for others. In my incoming Presidential address, I asked those of you in the membership who are in the position to influence the futures of other NSGC members to “Be a Sponsor.” Sponsors are advocates in positions of authority and power who use their influence intentionally to help others advance. I have benefited from several sponsors – individuals who intentionally gave me props, publicly and privately, in front of C-suite leaders and influential decision-makers. These selfless acts of sponsorship have the power to open doors to new opportunities and advance the careers of others, significantly. In case you missed it, NSGC’s September Member Webinar was focused on mentorship and titled “Elevate Yourself and Others: Insights and Best Practices of Mentor Relationships." Sponsorship was also discussed. If you couldn’t join live, the webinar recording is available.
In addition to thinking about being a sponsor to others, it’s also important to consider how to go about getting a sponsor or sponsors. Upon researching some background for my address and this article, I came upon a great article on The Muse, “The People Who Can Open More Career Doors Than You Ever Thought Possible,” by Jo Miller, founding editor of Be Leaderly. In this article, Miller lists six steps to attract the attention of an influential sponsor: 1) Perform, 2) Know Who the Good Sponsors Are, 3) Raise Your Hand for Exposure Opportunities, 4) Make Your Value Visible, 5) Have Clear Career Goals, and 6) Share Your Career Goals with Your Leaders.
This list really resonates with me when reflecting on ways in which I secured my own sponsors, and in the way in which I’ve chosen to be a sponsor for others. Beyond my own career, and the career of those I sponsor, this list also makes me think about the ways in which the genetic counseling profession needs to approach gaining sponsors, for our federal effort and beyond! We need to continue performing at the highest level possible to achieve our strategic vision and initiatives. We need to be savvy and strategic and build collaborations and alliances with the most important, influential organizations to help us build our social capital. We need to promote NSGC and genetic counselors locally, nationally and internationally. We have made great strides with our public relations firm, Genetic Counselor Awareness Day activities, and attendance at multiple meetings, workshops and summits by our members and NSGC liaisons. We need to continue making our value visible, both as an organization and as individual members. Discussions happening within our NSGC Task Forces, Committees, on the NSGC forums, and those yet to occur at the NSGC Annual Conference have been and will be focused on patient-reported outcomes and the value of genetic counseling provided by a genetic counselor. Our goals as an organization are outlined clearly in the 2019-2021 NSGC Strategic Plan, and we will be sharing with you all the progress made over the past year during the upcoming State of the Society Address in Salt Lake City.
In closing, I’d like to share these words from Millette Granville, Vice President of Talent, Diversity and Inclusion, and Organization Development at Food Lion, “Sponsorship can come to you in different ways. You never know who is watching you, so be ‘sponsor-ready’ at all times.” There is great truth and power in these words, and I have experienced this sentiment directly several times over the course of my career! So, what will you bring to the room? What is your pitch for yourself and for genetic counselors? What will you do to proactively elevate your voice and that of genetic counselors? Now, raise that hand!
Amy Curry Sturm
2019 NSGC President
This article was published in the September 2019 Advocate Newsletter.