Sponsorships are available to a huge range of individuals, from poker players to professional athletes. While the concept is simple in nature -- you allow yourself to represent a company in exchange for clothes, equipment, or monetary compensation, finding a sponsor can be quite difficult.
Why Get Sponsored?
But the challenge to find a sponsor may be worthwhile undertaking because along with the validation that comes from being sponsored, sponsored individuals typically gain access to a host of new opportunities. Depending on the sponsor and the agreement, you can get travel and hotel expenses covered. Sponsors are also known to pay for a health club membership, health insurance, car insurance, and even a cell phone and monthly call allowances.
How to Get Sponsored
But if you really want to find a sponsor and get sponsored, you need to really standout at some type of activity or sport. You will need to be better than at least 90% of the population of people that try the same activity. If not, you will have a difficult time proving yourself to a company or potential sponsor. If your friends and colleagues are constantly seeking you to ask you for advice with the activity you are into, then you are probably a great candidate for sponsorship.
At all levels of sponsorship, the sponsor's goal is aligned with the bottom line of the company: and this goal is to achieve a good return on their investment in you. The company will come to expect certain benefits from their association with those they sponsor, including brand awareness, distinguishing their product from the competition, showcasing existing products or launching new products.
Whatever the case, in order to find a sponsor, you need to sell yourself and prove that your personal style is in alignment with the marketing needs of the companies you approach. If you can't present a company any exposure to a pertinent audience, you will have nothing to offer.
The best way to get noticed is to participate in competitions, and win. Try to create hype around yourself and win the favor of the audience. This way other companies will have no choice but to look at you and want to sponsor you. Plus, the more you win, the more you have on your "resume" to offer a company who may be thinking about sponsoring you
If you're doing well in your activity, and winning a lot of competitions, many times the sponsors will come to you. If not, there are a few things you can do. You can formally contact a company by sending a packet that has professional photography and a brief video of who you are and what you do. It would also be very helpful to speak to the camera so that companies can get a feel for exactly who you are based on not only your skill level, but based on your personality as well.
You can also find a sponsor and get sponsored by going up to sponsors for competitions that you participate in and introducing yourself. The trick is to simply act natural and be nice. Do not, under any conditions, ask immediately for a sponsorship right then and there. This behavior is not only tacky, but it will tarnish your reputation within the industry as well. All that you have to say is hello and that you like the brand. Mention to the company that you will be competing and tell them to watch out for you. If you sell yourself well, the company will definitely remember you and keep you on their radar for future sponsorship campaigns.
Lastly, become friends with people who have already found a sponsor and try to engage in networking activities with them. This includes competitions, practices, and general hanging out. In this manner, sponsors can see that you two work well together, and you might be able to piggy back off the success of a bigger celebrity in your industry.