EYP is going through a big growth period at the moment and some of the exciting work is around establishing relationships with corporate sponsors (which was a discussion point in the recent Make Your Mark get together). We are presently finalising deals with two big companies here in London and the experience has taught me some interesting lessons which I thought I might share.
Sponsorship perhaps implies a one-way relationship where the sponsor is providing support one way. EYP has certainly had support like this in the past, but I don’t see that sponsorship is necessarily the right thing anymore. What is important (particularly with all the belt tightening going around) is the establishment of a relationship that provides value for both parties. In both instances, the relationships are not about EYP getting a bunch of money for an evening function, but building up a relationship over time where we support each other. Instead of being corporate sponsors, these two organisations are very much becoming corporate partners. Rather than spending the sponsorship money in one hit, we can provide benefits for our members over a long period of time which gives membership a degree of value, and at the same time, our corporate partners get support from our members (a nice arrangement). Through these relationships and our own networks, there is a great opportunity pipeline for other corporate partnerships to be built, which drives value for our members.
In some respects, this is no different to one of my personal guiding principles in networking, and that a great network is one where you bring value to the members of your network and for that to be reciprocated.
We have a really exciting event coming up in June where we are going to do a workshop with one of our corporate partners. They have some products from Eastern Europe that are new to the UK market; in a fun workshop environment, we will be coming up with some ideas about how best to promote these products in this market. This is a great way to use the diversity of our organisation (in terms of different skills and experiences, and different nationalities) to achieve some tangible business outcomes. When appropriate I will say a bit more about it, but it is really going to be fun :p