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Mentor vs Sponsor: What's the Difference?

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

As talked about in episode 3.3 of The Internal Comms Pro: The Podcast, the topic of sponsors and mentors was brought up. What exactly is the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? What is the benefit of both, and which one are you currently looking for? This guide should help clarify the difference!

What is a Mentor?

A mentor is someone who is advising you. They are offering their expertise to you directly to help guide you within your career, whether that be with a specific task or general career advice.

Some other traits involved include:

  • Mentors have mentees.

  • Mentors help mentees craft a career vision.

  • Mentors give mentees suggestions on how to expand their network.

  • Mentors provide feedback to help their mentee navigate by finding important projects and people.

What is a Sponsor?

A sponsor is someone who is advocating for you. They are putting their own career and reputation on the line to actively represent you to others within your field.

Some other traits involved include:

  • Sponsors have proteges.

  • Sponsors help drive their proteges’ career vision.

  • Sponsors give proteges their active network connections and make new connections for them.

  • Sponsors are personally invested in the upward movement of their protege.


If you’re looking for someone to give you advice on how to move forward within your career, then a mentor is your best bet. If you’re looking for someone to actively support you to open networks, then you’ll need a sponsor. Both mentors and sponsors come from building trust with superiors in your organization. The key to any professional network is building genuine relationships with others.

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