Are you planning some personal development in 2016? Sponsorship conferences are always a great option so I thought I would take a look at what to look for in good sponsorship conferences.
Many moons ago I was involved in an industry association called Sponsorship Australasia (SA). It was a terrific group that actively worked to support and grow the sponsorship industry and its many professionals.
Despite its good work, SA was wound up a few years ago – mostly because everyone found it difficult to find the time to run this volunteer based organisation. Let’s face it, we are a busy mob and SA was a luxury that, unfortunately, we couldn’t keep going in the long run.
One of the big gaps SA left behind was its annual sponsorship conference.
The SA conference was valuable on a number of fronts. The first was that it was able to bring in people from all three areas of sponsorship – rights holders, sponsors (brands) and agencies. SA had a strict ‘no pitching’ policy, which, whilst not always adhered to, gave brands some comfort that they were going to get bombarded with sponsorship requests during the two days. This mix of people meant for great networking opportunities and I know personally that I was able to meet many people during these events and forge relationships that I still carry to this day.
Secondly, the content was always spot on. SA steered clear of the big name, high profile, CEOs who don’t offer a huge amount of sponsorship insight and instead aimed for the Marketing Directors and decision makers who could speak with authority. That ensured that there were always meaningful learnings that could be taken away. I know, from my point of view, I always came back fired up and full of great ideas.
So, without the SA conference on the scene anymore, what do you need to look out for when looking for a good comparable conference? Here is my top list of things to look out for:
Sponsorship Conferences Content
As the old adage goes – content is king. It is rare that a conference will be able to deliver 100% of the content that hits your needs directly. However, to justify going to a conference, I reckon a good rule of thumb is that you need at least 50% of the content to be directly beneficial/relevant to you.
If you are not using these events to go nuts networking, then you are only receiving half the value. Simple as that.
Not all conferences will allow lots of time and opportunities to network. So, make sure you pick the conferences that do. A good conference will allow for informal, organic networking opportunities along with more formal, structured networking (like activities, sports etc).
Here’s a tip -Don’t be shy and don’t just hang with the one group. Get out of your comfort zone and get talking to people. Firstly, you will find it hugely valuable to meet new people and in what you share with them. Not only will you broaden your own network but it is important to note that they are the gift that keep on giving. You will keep running into these people throughout your career. Networking will get easier the more you do it.
Sponsorship Conferences – The Location
If the location means that you can tie the trip into one or more meetings with prospects or current sponsors then take advantage of it. The more you can do to justify getting there the better.
So get out there, learn, share and get amongst it.
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