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Getting Ready for Your Networking Event: Attract More Sponsors in 5 Easy Ways
When you’re just getting started in business as an entrepreneur or founder, you might find it a challenge to be taken seriously by the more seasoned business people in your industry. Building up your credibility is incredibly important and holding a business or networking event is an increasingly viable way for you to establish yourself as a skilled and valuable business contact.
When you plan a networking event, you transform yourself into a business leader in your community. This puts you at a distinct advantage- you’re bringing other entrepreneurs together to talk shop and build community. Only leaders are able to successfully accomplish such a task. If it is a really great event, you’ll be seen as a leader and an authority in your community- no matter how long you’ve been at it.
Since networking events can be such a valuable tool in your arsenal as you get started building your organization, acquiring sponsorships for these events are equally as important. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have endless capital to work with and hosting a successful event can be costly, but you can offset some of this by securing sponsors for your event. Let’s take a moment to discuss five ways you can make acquiring sponsors a successful process.
But First, The Challenges
If you have any experience planning and organizing an event, you know that any successful event attains success through their sponsorship relationships. Finding the perfect relationships and partnerships for your event is a crucial part of the event-planning process. The right relationships ensure a great experience for attendees. Picking the right collaborators will ensure that you retain a meaningful message to help contribute to an authentic relationship-building conversation with all participants.
It’s important to encourage sponsorship team members to dig deep into their creativity when they are connecting with your mutual audience, allowing you as the event organizer to plan the best event possible. A well-prepared effort to find the perfect sponsors is the key to gain massive exposure for all participants involved and strengthening these relationships only ensures that more events can take place in the future.
Now, The Solutions
Once you’re armed with a solid event plan, your timing is on point, and you have all the tools you need at your disposal, you only need to integrate a few simple strategies for finding ideal sponsors into your event organization plan and you’ll be set. Here are a few tips to make your efforts a success:
#1 Who Is Your Demographic?
Spend some time identifying your mission and who, exactly, is your target audience. The people you’re trying to cultivate professional relationships with at your networking event should be aligned with the core messaging of the event, even if you don’t know them quite yet. Do your research about the market you’re trying to reach and keep these folks in mind as you move forward. No matter what industry you’re in, take a deep dive and truly understand the routines and trends of the people you want to be involved in the event. Complete comprehension of how your target audience behaves puts you at an advantage as you strategize during the next steps.
#2 Know Your Sponsorship Marketing
From the onset, place a value on each and every benefit you can offer to sponsors. This will allow you to evaluate ideas around what sponsorship levels you’ll want to offer. Pricing levels should be unique, while tempting past partners to contribute more than they did at the last event.
You must remain adaptable, as some sponsors will be interested in trade, product donations and various other marketing ideas. Sponsors should be seamlessly integrated into your event in an authentic, significant way- this can include everything from a unique add to the swag bag to specific parts of your event centred around the sponsor’s unique benefits.
#3 Build Better Sponsor Relationships Through Better Pitches
You may just be calling to talk, but having a strategy and being mindful of how you approach it is crucial. When you’re selling a networking event to sponsors, timing is everything. Being aware of the best and busiest times to call will only help your proposal. Every company you approach will have a different culture to tailor your pitch to.
Get a head start- call human relations and ask them when the best time to contact the appropriate person would be. HR’s responsibility is to make the company shine, so these folks will frequently serve as a guide to pitching the perfect sponsorship relationship.
Who you’ll be speaking with is entirely dependent on company size. Contacts at small companies will likely be the owner themselves; medium companies will likely have you pitching to marketing or HR; large corporations will have an entire sponsorship team that you’ll be working with.
#4 Timing Is Everything
The majority of organizations plan out their event sponsorships at certain times of the year. Their event budget is often designed the previous year based on organizational goals and past performance. The best time to reach them differs on a number of factors like the economy, the industry you’re in, and the company’s current ROI and performance.
Then there are the companies that sponsor events all year but have a constrained budget during certain seasons. The majority of events are held during Summer and Fall and some organizations may not be doing any sponsorships at this time of year as they may be reserving their budget for their own events.
Do your research and know when the peak sponsoring times are for every organization you reach out to and don’t be afraid to schedule your events around these times. It may give you an advantage once you get to the pitch.
#5 Plan, Plan Plan
Once you secure sponsorships for your event, even the most seasoned event organizers will worry that they have forgotten something important. To avoid any fires or frustrations, here are a few refreshers:
- Promote your sponsors during the event. Let your partners know how you’ll be showcasing sponsors during your networking event and offer them plenty of ways to communicate with attendees.
- Communicate regularly with sponsors: everyone typically focuses on the attendees when it comes to communication, but don’t forget your sponsors! Make sure that someone is working to keep sponsors happy and in the loop during the course of the event.
- Share the recap: This piece of the puzzle is often forgotten but is extremely valuable to sponsors. You can keep sponsor relationships strong and solid for the long haul by sharing a recap of the day with them. This should highlight metrics like how many attendees came, the biggest social media moments, survey results, or any other insights you can use to orchestrate their experience with your organization.
About the author
Kristen Bowie is a marketing leader, forging the path with data-driven decisions. When she’s not writing for thought leadership and creating sponsorship proposals at Qwilr, she’s hanging out with her two urban dwarf goats, painting, or is out watching a local band.
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