The Art of Finding Great Partners
As the co-producer of SOBCon, a small event conference, I had to invent a few things about working with sponsors. It took a while to build and explain the value proposition for an event that only offers 150 attendees. Yet, those weren’t just any 150 and my goal was to entice, encourage, and enlist the most awesome sponsors to invest in making it work.
Last week I wrote a blog post about the 6 Cold Truths of Building Business. Two points in that list really apply here. Take a minute to go read it if you haven’t had a chance to; then come back here.
Learning the art of finding great partners might be the biggest value of my business career. I’m delighted to be sharing what I’ve learned about finding great sponsors with you.
How to Enlist Awesome Sponsor Partners for Your Projects
How often does it happen that we get emails often from complete strangers, requesting our time, resources, or money that outline what our investment will do for person asking? For me at least, it happens more and more. It’s a sadly tuned request that only lays out the benefit to the person who is asking. No giver has resources to answer every one-sided request generously — it’s not good friendship or good business. How would the giver ever survive?
Whether you’re looking for a sponsor to send you to a conference or someone to support your newest project … you have to make it in the best interest of the people who might help.
Here’s how to entice, encourage, and enlist awesome sponsor partners for your project.
- Do your homework. Know what you have to offer. What about your event or project might be attractive to what sort of partner? Find out how folks value it. Be ready to walk in with an broadly sketched business plan that considers what the exchange of value will be.
- Choose your partners. Don’t ask everyone. Look at what you’re doing and find the ideal match for the event or project you’re building. It will be so much easier to connect and collaborate if you can explain to a potential partner how you already see them participating in a meaningful way.
- Start with asking them, “what are your goals for the next two quarters?” Then listen. Listening lets offers a chance to adapt what you’re doing to include something that fits the sponsor irresistibly.
- When you hear a goal that aligns with yours, suggest how you might be more efficient working together. Negotiation is aligning your project goals with the goals of the folks you want to buy in. Sit on the same side of the table and align what you want with where they want to go.
- Last word: Love your sponsors and the sponsors of any event or project that you enjoy! Sponsors make all of our lives easier.Talk about them. Write about them. Personally thank them for all they do for us! Give them lots of reasons to be pleased, proud, and ready to come back. You can bet that helps when we ask them to sponsor again!
A great example might be …
If you want a sponsor to send you to a social media (or SEO or education) conference or workshop, research to find a local business that wants to get involved social media. Ask for a meeting to discuss how you can help each other. You might suggest that they send you to the conference and that in return you spend 4 hours with their team teaching them what you learned.
Even if they don’t have the budget, you’ve made call on a local client who’s interested in social media (or SEO or education). You’ve started to establish yourself as an expert. You may find other business come from it.
Show how doing what you want will make them a hero, get them closer to their goals in ways that are easier, smarter, and more meaningful. Look for how you can make folks feel proud and smart to be a part of what you’re doing, you’ll find someone who wants to invest in what you’re doing.
I’m pleased to say that SOBCon2010 has an incredible list of sponsors, including Intuit, Allstate, ReveNews, Smart Brief of Social Media, and IZEA. Every one of them has been a pleasure to work with. We’ll be announcing a few others soon!
Any questions about getting awesome sponsors?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!
Karin H says
Must be me, but is that truly happening to you? Have the known givers become the new pavement for beggars? How strange and arrogant.
But that’s beside your question, sorry.
Reading your post what came to mind as question: hmm, wonder if the same applies to finding “mental” sponsors.
Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)
ME Liz Strauss says
Wish I’d been around when you left this comment. It’s not sad that we’re all looking for help now. What’s sad is that some folks just don’t know how ask by owning their own part.
Yeah, it happens a lot that people come knocking and just say “put me to work” but don’t say how. 🙂
Karin H says
What’s a bit of time lapse between friends 😉
My mentor taught me to focus on prospects/clients/leads and how they can benefit from whatever we offer. It always makes me think: then why have so many businesses a USP instead of UBP – Unique Buying Proposition.
Don’t think it matters what you’re offering or requesting: from a training course, quality wooden flooring 😉 to a unique event with unique audience looking for sponsors.
ME Liz Strauss says
Just finished today’s post and found this! Thank you for sticking with me. 🙂
I agree a unique buying proposition … I like how that focuses on the customer / client / sponsor , not the seller. We need to see that we’re not the center of the deal, but a partner in reaching shared goals. When we get there as an economic society, I think we’ll have something!
Hello to our mentor! 🙂