Alice Myerhoff is a versatile dot connector who delivers best-in-class corporate sponsorships for global, mission-driven organizations. She is an inspiring sales leader and author who draws upon a deep well of corporate and multi-cultural experience to forge mutually beneficial, trusting relationships with for-profit and non-profit constituents.
Alice is a collaborative partner who balances a boots-on-the-ground approach with a strategic mindset to grow entities, scale partnerships, launch initiatives and generate revenue.
She is also a voracious learner who masters new industries quickly and has built customer portfolios from the ground up in education, real estate, advertising, and entertainment.
Alice was also one of our speakers (she talked about getting more women on boards!) last year at the virtual experience we hosted on our “private island” where we danced with one another’s avatars! :)
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Welcome back! Thank you for being here with us today! How have you been? What have you been up to since we “heard you” a year ago? Any changes? :)
Lots of changes! I finished up my work at How Women Lead back in May so that I could take some time to regroup. I had really put a ton of energy into launching #GetOnBoard Week there, which was a huge success (they are doing it again next month...anyone with an interest in corporate boards should check it out). I needed some downtime for myself and my family. Now I am taking on projects in the social impact space. I’m currently helping a higher education non profit news organization build out their paid media offerings and I have a couple other things in the hopper, in the workforce development and equity space.. This project approach is allowing me to make space to do things like visit colleges with my older daughter, play tennis (my new pandemic hobby) and ride my bike.
You know our mission is to support the journey of women to the very TOP of their careers - whatever that looks like to them. We’ve discussed mentorship several times and today we want to dig into the less-known role of a SPONSOR for your business or career. Let’s start with what a sponsor is and why it is important to consider finding one.
Yes it’s important to understand the distinction between mentorship and sponsorship. A great definition of sponsorship is when the sponsor uses their social capital to help the person they are sponsoring. An example of this that I recently read was when Bill Gates said that his kids used Khan Academy and that he thought it was going to change the world. His power as a leader had a direct impact on Khan Academy’s success. I’ve had sponsors do small things like heartily recommend me for a job and big things like save me from being let go when there were layoffs. Since women tend not to toot their own horn because we’ve been socialized that way, it’s really helpful to have someone who can do this for you.
You’ve done a lot of work with getting women around boardroom tables… and having a sponsor is one key way to getting there. You have also now seen the “female investor” side of the equation and doubly attest to the importance of finding an influential sponsor to help you RISE UP!
How do we find the right sponsor?
The first thing I would do is look around at who has accomplished what you aspire to do. If that person is a woman in a group like this which is about women supporting women, all the better. We should all be doing our utmost to lift other women up and I think women at higher echelons of leadership know that they didn’t get there alone. Many want to pay it forward and are even looking for other women to sponsor or mentor.
When you’ve identified a person or two that you think could be sponsors, look for a way that you can meet or be useful to that person. I hear so many stories about important people being barraged by people asking “can we meet for a cup of coffee” which obviously right now in a virtual environment looks a little different. Be more interesting and compelling than that. Share some relevant content with that person for example.
And lastly, be clear and vocal about your ambitions. One of the things we would tell people in the How Women Lead Board Readiness trainings is to let your network know that you are looking for a board seat. It makes it easier for someone to help you if they know what you are trying to do.
Follow up… How do we know we are ready to step UP and into the role ourselves?
I think we are all in a position today to sponsor someone in small ways. Recommend that junior go-getter woman for a speaking opportunity, help someone make that connection when they ask for an introduction. Even these small gestures can go a long way.
As you know, we love stories around the WomanUP!® Community. What is one of your favorite stories of a woman finding a sponsor and rising to the top of her career?
[I’m not sure if I have a knock your socks off story but one that would ring bells for folks would be talking about Katie Lance. Here is roughly how this would go: I have a story that is personal and about someone you probably know of. I hired Katie at Inman News as a marketing manager. She had been a marketing manager at a local brokerage and had applied to work at Inman News. Katie was easy to sponsor and support because she was so driven and willing to do just about anything. I think the turning point was when there was a brokerage conference and we needed someone to represent the company and do a little speaking. I had just had a baby and needed to stay close to home. She was game to do it and did a fabulous job. The rest is history. She really caught Brad Inman’s attention and she was good about asking for what she wanted. Look at her now. She has an amazing business doing social media marketing consulting and speaking for the leading brokerages in the U. S.
Was there anything else you'd like to share during our chat?
Just that women supporting women is so important. Guys have their old boy network and will spend their social capital on introductions without a second thought. I don’t know if it’s because it’s so hard won for us but women often will be hesitant to make introductions or recommendations and that’s a shame. It doesn’t really cost you anything to help someone in this way.
What is the best way for the community to reach out and connect with you?
My LinkedIn is the best way. Feel free to reach out to connect but please do share a note about why you are reaching out.
Here are a few other links that Alice referred to during the chat:
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