Evaluating Speaking Engagements and Sponsorship Opportunities

Your attorneys are presented with speaking engagement and sponsorship opportunities. The question is, is every opportunity a worthwhile endeavor? Speaking at and sponsoring events with no prospects is a waste of time and resources. That is why goal setting, research, and evaluation are important before making a commitment.

The first step in evaluating speaking engagements and sponsorship opportunities is to know your lawyers and the goals and objectives of their practices. Without a clear direction regarding what you want to accomplish, you cannot identify the right opportunities. What practice areas do your lawyers want to promote, what industries do they want to target, and who is their target audience? What is the purpose of the event, and does it align with your lawyers’ priorities?

There are no right or wrong answers when evaluating speaking and sponsorship opportunities—only things to consider. Does your firm have a history/relationship with the organization, what is it, and what were the results of prior involvement with the organization? Is the event new or recurring? Is membership or sponsorship required to participate? Who else is sponsoring the event? Who will be attending, and how many attendees are expected? What type of outreach have your lawyers engaged in with this audience in the past? Is the attendee list available before or after the conference? Is the event pay-to-play? What business development and marketing support is needed? For speaking engagements, what is required for the speaker submission?

When evaluating an organization, review their Web site. What do they participate in, are you familiar with those organizations and publications, what is your opinion of them? Does it look like an organization that could pertain to your clients? If an unknown organization is contacting your lawyers directly and bypassing the marketing department, it is probably not a “credible” organization. Sometimes a simple giveaway is the email address of the invitation. Is it coming from a Gmail account—that is your answer.

Once you know the details of a given opportunity, choose those that get you in front of your prime prospective clients. When sponsoring an event, you can often negotiate better terms and additional benefits such as extra event tickets, especially if you commit early. Committing early may also lead to better opportunities, including your first choice sponsorship and other benefits such as prime booth placement.

Before your lawyers speak and attend sponsored events, prepare them for business development. Provide them information summarizing what the event is about, the expected attendees, and what they should try to accomplish. If provided with the attendee list in advance, identify who your lawyers should meet, and if possible, set up meetings in advance. Find out if any attendees are clients of your firm. Conduct research on companies you do not know anything about.

After the event, have a debrief meeting to evaluate the experience. Use this to help you evaluate future speaking and sponsorship opportunities.

For additional tips, check out Check-List to Evaluate Speaking Engagements and Sponsorship.

By: Helena M. Lawrence, Business Development Manager, Proskauer for the May/June 2014 Capital Ideas Newsletter

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