It starts with a thank you. Yes!
When you don’t get the gig, send a nice follow up letter anyway to thank them for their consideration and that you’re sorry to hear you weren’t chosen for the event as a speaker. Let them know you would be pleased to make yourself available as a contingency speaker if the need ever arises. Be sure to provide all of our contact info – web, social media, phone, messages, Skype, and assistant’s information – whatever means you use to be reached, plus, plus. Putting yourself out there as a contingency speaker means you have to be exceptionally reachable on possibly very short notice. If you can’t be reached, you could lose the gig. Make it quick and easy for them to track you down and book you if they need a backup. Be ready and reachable to save this planner’s day and reputation.
I’m sure all speakers are aware that the planner’s worst fear is a speaker not showing up. This certainly tops their fear about booking a bad speaker. The planner’s job & reputation truly are on the line. Failure in the speaker component of their event means getting fired or suffering embarrassment in front of their colleagues and peers. It’s a constant worry for them as the event approaches and it’s your opportunity to be their hero.
Help ease their mind by committing to being there to provide your services as a backup (contingency speaker). It will provide the relief that allows them to move forward knowing that in the event their speaker doesn’t show up, they can call on you. This is your big opportunity for relationship-building. Even though you aren’t the first choice for the event, you will stand out in the planner’s memory for future events. It may not be your ideal way you envisioned of getting your foot in the door but could very well land you future speaking events, more people to sign up for your mailing list, more testimonials, more feedback, more credibility, more visibility and another client to add to your list. Plenty of opportunities arise through one that many speakers dismiss as a missed one.
Take it a step further to research associations and organizations that have conferences and meetings every year. Be sure it’s in your niche area and you would be a perfect fit. Once you find them, look at the speaker line up for the upcoming event. Investigate and do your homework, see what they are offering, and note their topics. Define why you believe they landed the speaking gig and then construct a letter to introduce yourself as a contingency speaker if the need ever arises. Send your letter, your OneSheet (this is a must) and a business card to the planner.
Your letter, OneSheet and business card can be sent via email or snail mail. I personally like snail mail and suggest using a colored envelope. It takes some extra time, but also be sure to hand-write your marketing pieces that are being sent through the mail. If you have promotional pieces you hand out, such as magnets, pens, sticky notes (things everyone uses these on their desk) put them in the envelope for the planner to enjoy.
Another creative way to make you a stand-out is to send a simple and unique postcard you designed (or have designed by a professional) that is specifically for being a contingency speaker. Find the events that are a fit, send off your postcards and then follow up with a 2nd one…simply saying “Don’t Forget Your Back-Up” or something similar. You can be rather creative with the images & graphics for your postcard. Some ideas are a graphic with an empty stage, or a mic and no Speaker presenting, anything that says “Your Speaker is a No Show” should make your message clear and grab the planner’s attention.
Get remembered and see doors open to some very good opportunities by implementing the simple tips above. Put them into action and see your bookings increase where you thought you only saw dead ends.
Action = Results
So remember, opportunities are in abundance out there! Be on the lookout, be creative and stay on your toes…most importantly, do not give up even after a no and take the ACTION to make it possible next time.