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Partnerships are a valuable asset in developing an athlete’s brand and making it known to different companies and industries. Continuing the conversation with elite athletes Abby Dunkin (Paralympic wheelchair basketball player) and Leah West Casciano (Powerlifter) OpenSponsorship’s Ishveen Anand asks them an important question: What makes a successful partnership for you?

“Something that I always look for of course is if it’s a product or brand that I actually want to work with or a product that I actually use,” Casciano begins. “If it’s something you have to force, maybe don’t take the product or use the product. Then the partnership ends up being forced and feels like an obligation. If it’s something that you use or take or wear anyway, that’s usually what makes the best kind of partnership.”

Dunkin's view on partnerships has to do with the authenticity of the brand.

“I want to love it so much that I genuinely want to share it with other people," she says. "Friends, family, teammates like, ‘Hey you gotta try this out.’ And a company that I believe in their message and what they stand for as well as they believe in me and what I stand for and my beliefs. It’s gotta be a two-way street,” Dunkin exclaims.

OpenSponsorship is often called the Match.com of sports sponsorship because it’s the largest two-sided marketplace for it. Both Casciano and Dunkin have used their services to connect with brands for sponsorship opportunities that can be seen on their social media platforms.

Casciano and Dunkin are then asked what they would try to inspire companies to do regarding building a more inclusive company or a certain product. 

Dunkin suggests just having companies look at their employees and challenges them to think about who their employees are. “How diverse are you?” she asks. “How many black employees do you have? How many disabled employees do you have? How many different religions? How many different people do you have in your company?” she questions. “I think for companies looking to brand or expand themselves, look at different people that you wouldn’t normally look at. Look at the ones who maybe don’t have a large following. Look at the ones that aren’t as a high profile as you would like. That would open your target audience to so many more people and I think that would also event more people wanting to use your company, wanting you to use your services or products too. I think that can be beneficial for both parts as well,” Dunkin concludes.

Casciano agrees with Dunkin, adding “If more brands and companies can think about the consumer and what it’s going to do for the consumer’s life, that will ultimately build a better future for everyone because you’re not just thinking about how that’s going to make you better.”

To hear more from Dunkin and Casciano, watch the entire interview here

Audrey Brown

Written by Audrey Brown

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