When you're hosting a big event such as a job fair, someone has to foot the bill. You'll defray some of the cost by charging exhibitors for booth space, but another way to gather funds ahead of time is to seek event sponsors. Hopefully you've been building up your business network for quite some time; this will come in handy now when you need sponsors for the fair.
Create an attractive flier that includes all the details that potential sponsors will want to know, including the costs of sponsorship, how the business's logo and information will be displayed in the programs, how the sponsor's information will be displayed at the job fair, how many people you expect to be there, and the demographics of the attendees. Also include contact information and deadlines for signing up. Save the flier as a PDF document so it will be easy to share across computer programs.
Post a version of the flier on your website and social media pages. Also post a copy in public areas around your office so other staff members will know you're seeking sponsors and can tap their own networks.
Email the flyer to your professional network. If you work at a college or job-training center, chances are you have a contact list that includes businesses with which you set up internships and fellowships, media outlets you work with regularly, and contractors that provide services you need. Those connections can be helpful now for both promoting your search for sponsors and becoming sponsors themselves.
Create a "short list" of companies that have been big contributors in the past, or with which you have an ongoing business relationship. After you send the flier, call a decision-maker in each company personally to ask about sponsoring your job fair.
Print out your job fair flier and take it to networking events pertaining to the industries that will be represented at the job fair. Your local chamber of commerce or industry meetups can be good places to meet the movers and shakers in local companies, who may be looking to get the word out about their businesses.
Offer alternatives to the standard offerings you came up with when planning the job fair sponsor tiers. For example, if a business owner wants to be a sponsor but can't afford the lowest-level sponsorship, come up with other ways to allow him to sponsor. Ask him to provide manpower during the event or work out a trade for goods or services. For example, you could ask a local print shop to be a sponsor and provide the printing supplies, or a local restaurant could be a sponsor that provides the food and drinks during the event.
Inform your staff and coworkers that you're seeking sponsors so they'll have it on their radars and can spread the word for you.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.