Professional speaking is a very competitive business, and if you have to market yourself, the challenge of booking events can be quite daunting. Sponsorship by someone else could provide you with additional support in every aspect of your business. With sponsorship, everyone can be a winner -- you, the sponsor and your audience.

The Basics

A sponsor is any group, organization or company that needs exposure in the same market that you do. Sponsorship is everywhere -- athletes, NASCAR, little league teams and more all have sponsors. To find your potential sponsors, think who else might be interested in reaching your audience. If you present a program about fitness, for example, then sponsors might include companies that make sports equipment, nutrition products or sportswear. If you speak about personal finance and investing, then you might find sponsorship from a brokerage firm, a mutual fund company or an insurance trade association. If you can answer the question, “Why would they back me?” then you have found a potential sponsor.

Speaker and Sponsor Benefits

The benefits of sponsorship to you can be bountiful. The first is financial. With a large organization backing you, you have the opportunity to book more programs on the strength of their name. The marketing that a sponsor can provide will give you more exposure, fill your venues and assist you in booking future assignments. Finally, if you have planned a speaking tour, the sponsor might be able to provide an event planner to help with the details. Depending on the event, the sponsor can benefit in numerous ways. If your presentation is part of a conference, the sponsor can receive pre-event publicity. Your sponsor might even introduce you. Its name will be on your handouts, and it might have a table in the back of the room set up to distribute literature or sell products.

Finding a Sponsor

Once you have identified potential sponsors who have an interest in your audience, plan your sales call. You need a compelling rationale why these businesses should spend their money on you. A sponsor will need to know how much you cost, what the money will be used for, how many people will be attending your event and how it will benefit them. In addition to money, sponsors might need to allocate other resources -- banners, literature and representatives. Sponsors need to know they will receive value for the money they pay you. If you are seeking co-sponsors, be careful about booking competing firms. You do not want bad surprises the day of your event.

Working with a Sponsor

When you ask an organization to back you, it is important to remember that you are not asking for a donation. There is a quid pro quo, and the sponsor will expect exposure for its investment in you. While the sponsor can be very helpful to you, consider what you can do for the sponsor. Mention its name in your press releases and include the name and corporate logo. If there is a list of attendees for your program, your sponsor might request a copy so it can network with them. Your audience will benefit from the synergy you and your sponsor create for them.