Some Ideas for Meeting Sponsors

Most PASS Chapter meetings are supported by sponsors who either provide money which is often used for food and drink, or sometimes bringing the food, or picking up the check at a nearby restaurant for the “after” event. In return sponsors get a mention in the meeting opening and if they are in town, a few minutes to address the group. A system that works and has the potential to be good for all involved, but I think sponsors often manage to short change themselves.

If you’re a sponsor, here’s some things you might want to do, or not do:

  • Use your five minutes (or whatever time you were allotted). I see too many get up, do an awkward and short talk, and then sit down. You can accomplish a lot in five minutes!
  • Practice your pitch before the meeting
  • Explain what your company does, and I’d suggest starting at the beginning – I promise there is someone in the audience that will appreciate it
  • Explain why you’re sponsoring
  • If you’re in a competitive sector (staffing for example), help us understand why we should call you instead of Company A, B, or C. You might do that by showing competence. How many SQL positions have you filled in the last 3 months? What’s the average salary? The most common skill asked for (and perhaps not found)? How many openings do you have today? Or if you sell software, maybe talk about how you’re better at support, revisions, renewal fees – some clear differentiator
  • Work the room if time is provided. It’s a great time to find out if people know about your company/product, and a great time to hand out business cards too.

On the Chapter side, I’d like to see us do more coaching. Sponsor spend a $100 or $200 dollars (or more) for just a few minutes. Helping them be effective makes it easier to justify the cost, and increases the chance they’ll sponsor again. Beyond that though, a sponsor who ‘does it right’ adds value to the meeting. A sponsor who isn’t really prepared (or doesn’t understand the dynamic) just becomes a commercial that we’re required to sit through.