Q. O. T. D

How far in advance should I begin looking for event sponsors?  Is a question that I hear often.  Ask any fundraiser and they'll tell you at least 4 months out but...

karmic marketing, when to look for event sponsors, sponsorship development, http://bit.ly/QOTD001

The earlier you can get your committee
focused & committed, the better

If it's your first event, I suggest beginning immediately after you've put together a fundraising committee and your mission for the event is clear.  You should begin as soon as possible because the decisions from some sponsors, usually have to go through additional persons to get approvals and you're also competing against other events in your area.  

How do you get in from of them?  Well, that's simple.  After making sure that your committee has a clear concise message, ask them how many people they know that could put them in contact with the community manager or PR department of their employer.  Once that's done, make sure to ask for an introduction.