maandag 22 maart 2010

just ASK

Due to an incredible amount of spam on my blog I haven't been blogging for a while. Fortunately Thomas managed to solve the problem, so I am happily back on the blogging front. With a reflection on a meeting that took place about 1,5 weeks ago.
Stichting Techniekpromotie has different sponsors and partners. Amongst the sponsors is a hard core of companies that have stood by de Stichting from the start. These sponsors connect with the Stichting mostly through personal contacts: they know the chairman of the board or the director or so and personally feel strongly about the cause. On the basis of this connection they have managed to put their companies power behind the Stichting. Which is a great thing. But the Stichting is developing, there is a new vision, mission and ambition and on top of that the Stichting is growing. This calls for professional development of all parties involved, including the sponsors. It also calls for a joint growth between the Stichting and the sponsors.A growth in which sponsorpartnership is related to but not uniquely depended on the personal link. 
 Joint growth in the sense that you have to ask: this is our vision, aim and ambition, this is our dream, does that suit you? And if so, how do you feel you can further the cause? What are you willing to contribute? And how can the Stichting reach out to other potential partners? These and other questions need to be answered. Two ways of doing this: either think yourself or....ASK.
I am always an advocate of asking the parties involved how they view your questions and what their answers are. For a number of reasons, but most notably the fact that asking the parties involved is a great way of learning about their vocabulary, about what is important to them and it gives a true feel for what connects you. Your work is to come up with the initiative, to bring the parties together and to formulate your questions and - perhaps most importantly - to truly listen. 
Over the years I have noticed that in libraries, museums and the like this way of working is underdeveloped, to say the least. It's also something I was discussing over the speakers dinner for the DISH 2009 conference with Josh Greenberg of New York Public Library. But somehow museums, libraries and the like feel - either consciously or subconsciously - that they should know it all, that asking is litterally out of the question. Incredible. Especially because if you think it all up yourself the story you tell become a very, almost uniquely rational one. And that is not going to work. 
The sponsormeeting we had for the Stichting made entirely clear that the Stichting stands on the cross roads of rationality and passion and that the "sales pitch" should reflect that. Of course, we need to come up with key performance indicators, and rightly so, but the companies could define very well which ones they wanted to see and where they draw the line. And that is very reasonable. They want to see how many people the Stichting reaches each year with the programme, what the cost per kid is and a few other figures in that department. Further on they were adement that we communicate our vision with passion, because that is what binds them and what makes them want to go the extra mile for the Stichting even trying to convince colleagues and competitors to become a sponsorpartner.
So once again, as I said in the piece about market research for libraries and museums, do go out there. Converse, create a dialogue and be proud of what you can offer but also dare to ask and dare to doubt. Your best consultants in this field are really your sponsorpartners, how ever small a core you might have.  

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