Many years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of being the President of a sports nutrition company. My job was to make the brand successful and do so in a way that brought distinction to the brand. One of my tasks each morning was to go through the daily mail, which always included an array of packages from athletes asking for sponsorship.
The typical package would contain at least one picture of that athlete, usually taken when they were competing and in peak condition. The accompanying letter would herald a list of contests and placings and titles won. Much ado was made of images published in magazines or other noteworthy places, and promises of further success and distinctions to come. They would close by detailing the costs they routinely incur competing in their sport of choice and the need for some support from a reputable company such as the one I managed.
If you strip it down to the main parts, they were asking me to write them a check each month so they could continue competing. The inference made was that somehow, our humble little company would benefit immeasurably from our association with this particular athlete.
After careful consideration, every last one of those packages ended up in the eternally full garbage sitting beside my desk.
Then one d a young lady sent me a package, but the contents were very different. She sent a variety of images she had modeled for that showed me she had tremendous versatility as a model. She provided a resume with the pictures that outlined her education, skills, abilities, and experience, along with references. Part of that resume was related to competing, but it was just enough to give me a sense of what it meant to her and how committed she was to a fit and healthy lifestyle. She also included her experience with charitable organizations.
After being intrigued enough to review her package thoroughly, I was most impressed with the cover letter she included.
It was short, to the point, and very impactful. She told me what she wanted to do with our company that would improve our profitability. As I read her proposal, it became clear that she had done her research on our company and our market position and knew enough about our brand and team to offer a proposal that was in keeping with our brand identity and ideals.
I ended up offering her a contract to work with us, and it was a match made in business heaven.
A business can only exist if it earns a profit. Ask a businessperson for a handout, and they will be unwilling. Show a businessperson how you will increase their earnings, and you will get their attention.
If you ask for a handout just for being an athlete, you are leaving how you and your image are used up to the person writing the checks. If you propose a way to use you and your image to increase profitability, you ensure that your involvement with that company benefits both you and the company to the highest level possible.
Don’t look for sponsorships. Look for strategic partnerships that provide you with an opportunity to show and reach your full potential in business, build your brand alongside theirs, and create a reputation and a career doing cool things in an industry you love.