I just read this great article on how to get speaking engagements if you are new to speaking. The article is by Donna Merritt from INS works.
Sometimes finding good leads for speaking gigs can feel a bit like hunting for a tropical spa with umbrella drinks in the desert. It's easy to get discouraged. But yet when you see superstars that are booked solid, you know that it can be done. So how do you find leads for paid speaking engagements? Below are 14 techniques you can use to find good contacts and get yourself booked!
1. Define a Niche - A niche can be defined as types of organizations you want to speak for, an industry you want to specialize in, or a subject matter. By defining a clear niche, you instantly set yourself apart. The next challenge of course is to become known in your niche.
When you become the leading authority in your field, people seek you out. Speaking trainer Burt Dubin says, “There's no point in being a fine marketer until you have expertise to offer. And your expertise has gotta be in a specific niche. A niche where folks with cash in their jeans recognize your value and are willing to invest in what you alone know. Here's how to select your niche: identify the topic or issue in which you're willing to do endless and ongoing research for a market with the means to pay you.”
2. Free to Fee - Speak for free in places likely to have people who could hire you for a fee. Often there are people in these audiences who could hire you. Check your local Kiwanis, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary
“After speaking recently in the Women’s Economic Development Outreach event, someone in the audience hired me for a speaking engagement for their group. If they hadn’t seen me speak in person, it’s very unlikely that this person would have contacted me.”
3. Attend Events - Go to the events that your ideal clients attend and mingle with the decision makers who could hire you. Research the event ahead of time. Know who will be in attendance. Have a hit list of people you want to connect with. Ask first what THEY do so you can tailor your 30-second pitch to address how you can help with their specific needs.
Go to chamber meetings and sit at the far end so you go last introducing yourself. That way you can listen first to who is in the audience and tailor your 30-second introduction. A speaker doing this shared their experience: “Once I did this a gentleman was so impressed that he immediately handed him a business card and said”, “Call me.”
4. Speaker Directories -There are websites that list speakers for a fee. Meeting planners sometimes go to these directories looking for a speaker on a certain topic.
Here are two that you can check out:
Speaker Services - speakerservices.com
Speaker Zone - www.speakerzone.com
5. Smile and Dial -Flipping the pages of a meeting planner directory and cold calling can drum up business. Most speakers who use this approach successfully make 40- 50 calls every day. If you are smart about finding the “right” targeted leads to call, this is especially effective.
Here are two sources for this information:
A) NTPA Directory (National & Professional Associations) It lists national conventions, meetings, and trade show dates for over 7,700 trade and professional associations with an annual report published each February.
B) Columbia Books, Inc. - www.columbiabooks.com
6. Google your way to Leads - Google makes it so easy to find leads. You can search for events in your industry or to find who your competitors have spoken for.
7. Ask for Referrals From the Platform – For example when you speak to groups you can say “As you can tell, I am really passionate about what I do. If you know of a group who could benefit from this message, please hand me a business card afterwards.”
8. Referrals - Ask for referrals from existing clients who have hired you to speak. If you ever have to lower your fee, you ask for letters of recommendation and referrals as part of the deal in exchange for the discount.
A tip to reward those who refer you:
“Let your clients or customers know they are rewarded for referring folks who invest in what you offer. Give appropriate gifts, depending on the size of the ticket. I give a choice of gifts. A dollar amount in cash or a higher dollar amount given to their favorite charity in their name, or a certain dollar amount in free product. Reward referrals generously.”
My personal thought is that a heartfelt note, a Starbucks gift card, a phone call, or even flowers is a wonderful way to say “thank you - I appreciate your referral!”
9. Get on Your Prospect’s Radar Screen - Top of mind status comes from word of mouth of your clients, being "seen" in the pages of print media, and from testimonials of audience members. Know where your audience goes and be there. This includes your prospect’s ezines, clubs, organizations, bulletin boards, and magazines.
10. Speaker Website - An effective speaker website gives a meeting planner everything they need to decide that you are the perfect speaker for their event. You’ll want to include downloadable one sheet (brochure), testimonials, program descriptions, media coverage, results gained for other clients, and your speaker video.
Lillian D. Bjorseth, the Networking Expert, shared how she got a lead from a major company who wanted to hire her and found her on the website. The person came back to their planning committee who said, “You found her where?” “Have you even seen her speak? My reputation is on the line here.” Then after reading testimonials from clients who hired Lillian to speak, they were happy to hire her.
In the past 2 weeks, having a speaking video on my website has gotten me the job. A client was hemming and hawing and said, "Can we see you speak somewhere locally first?" I told them where they could view my speaker video on my website and in 5 minutes they called back to book me.
11. Join Organizations - Where people can hire you or might be able to refer you to people. Review your organization memberships at the end of the year before you renew to make sure that the fee was worth it.
12. Publicity Rules! - Red Zone Marketing speaker, Maribeth Kuzmeski says that hiring a full time publicist has made all the difference in her speaking career. She says that when people have seen your face enough times in publications they get to feel like they know you.
13. Invite Prospects as your Guest when you Speak to Groups - That way they can experience you firsthand. After they experience the power of your speaking, they are likely to hire you or even refer you to others.
14. Building Relationships -Send articles to them to let them know you are thinking of them. Send cards and call them from time to time. “Never let them forget your name. You want to be top of mind when they are ready to hire.”
15. Market, Market, and Market - You can do this thru press releases, one sheets, brochures, business cards, postcards, website listings, blogs, new products, and releasing a new book. Please do these things often and make sure your materials are up to date with current information and topics. It would be a shame to sacrifice a $7,500 speaking fee by not updating a $300 one sheet printing.