Then a short time ago an internet based company showed up on the scene and took the hard part away. NationalProStaff.com is an internet based company that allows you to create a profile with all of your fishing accomplishments, build a fishing resume with their template that asks you all of the important questions which means no more guessing on what the companies want to hear. The best part is their network of active users contains all of the big names (ie. Penn, Abu Garcia, Berkley, Humminbird etc) which means your information is actively being looked at on a daily basis. You can leave your profile and resume up for companies to find or you can apply for prostaff spots with specific companies.
It's true that National Pro Staff makes things alot easier and I wish they were around when I first started searching out ProStaff opportunities, it would've made life a lot easier, but there are things that will help you on your way to becoming a "pro" and creating quality relationships with these companies.
1. Remember ProStaff's are a marketing tool. They are a way for companies in exchange for product or discounts to get boots on the ground and have their product actively promoted at seminars, tournaments and other events.
2. Be a person that people like. Winning tournaments isn't everything. While it does make a difference and yes a person that constantly has podium finishes is great, people are going to listen to people they like. So be a humble winner and a gracious loser and always offer up advice to anyone that asks for it.
3. This is the most important in my opinion. When applying for sponsorships; don't apply to every company under the sun. Go after brands that you already use and promote to people anyway. That's what companies want to see. Every prostaff that I am a part of make products that I was using long before I ever even dreamed of becoming a sponsored angler.
4. Make sure you hold up your end of the deal. If you're getting product or discounts, make sure you're out there actively promoting "your" brands. It's a small world and word gets around quick if you're not holding up your end. If your doing your part then sponsorship deals will become easier to get. If not then you're going have to start digging back into your wallet and making trips to the tackle shop on a regular basis.
Good luck on your quest to the top of the world competitive fishing. If there is anything that I didn't answer feel free to shoot me a message and I'd be more than happy to give you any and all advice you may have.