We know you have some great things to say with your public speaking business. We know you’ve got the skills to grow the business and help people with your work. But how do you get those public speaking engagements flying in the door? How do you get the business going, the schedule full, and audiences speaking about you and your fantastic business? We know it can be a bit daunting finding those engagements. Don’t worry. We’re here to help.
With experience working with speakers for over 14 years, I have found that the best approach to getting public speaking engagements lined up is to first know whom you are approaching. Know your niche, your area of expertise, stay in a very focused area, and then approach those who will be interested in what you have to say. This is what is going to keep your schedule booked.
So first things first, how do you pick your niche? Well, that’s entirely up to you, but remember this: you want to be a specialist, not a generalist. Always make sure you are marketable before spending hours and hours marketing yourself. Invest the time into making yourself marketable, into ensuring you have the skills necessary to deliver your product, your brilliant speaking business.
Also invest the time into your marketing, and ensure that your marketing materials all align with your focused area of expertise. Maybe you will want to do this yourself, maybe you will want the help of a VA. Build a website, a blog, social media, and others to really highlight your expertise and your brand of public speaking.
Then find the people who are interested in your niche. Research the companies who have the power to hire you, those who are interested in your niche, and build relationships with them. Join online forums where you know your group would be hanging out online — LinkedIn is a great place to find professional forums. Jump into the conversation and answer questions, always adding your signature. People will begin to see that you know your speciality. Nurture these relationships, and watch your public speaking business bloom! Always be networking, building new connections and strengthening existing ones. But no need to be all over the place. Stay in your little corner of serious expertise, and you will be amazed at how busy you will become.
So you’ve got the skills, you’ve got the marketing material, you’ve got the research. You know who to call, but how do you sell yourself? How do you turn all these skills and research into speaking engagements?
Contact people directly. If you did your homework, really did the research, then making contact should be easy and painless. The best contact will always be phone and will sometimes be email. Many people don’t like calling anymore, but it is still the best and most personal way to get your foot in the door.
Introducing yourself via phone or email will get easier over time, so don’t stress. It will become an art form that I know you will perfect. Here’s a template: you call and ask for the person in charge of hiring speakers, they connect you, and you give your spiel quickly, simply, and clearly. You’re not long-winded; you’re polite, professional, and concise. You deliver your proposal: who you are, what you specialize in, and how your area of expertise will offer a solution for the company’s audience. This hiring person is in no way confused, knowing immediately what you have to offer his audience and how it will benefit his company.
Easy enough, perhaps, but sometimes you will need to troubleshoot. If you get some people who are hesitant – maybe you can hear it in their voice – say, “How about I send you my onesheet or a proposal for your review?” More times then not, they will simply say, “Sure!” You send it over, and you’ve got your marketing piece in front of them. Don’t let someone’s hesitation stop you!
After making contact, the next step is not to be missed. The follow-up. I cannot stress the importance of following up after you have called enough. This work requires diligence, and it is this aspect that will normally land the gig. This is where you can get past the “no”s; and it is the people who can get past the “no”s and make it to the first “yes” that will make it.
Keep your contact mindful that you’re around and ready for their audience, and this requires one, maybe two, follow-ups. You have to stay in the forefront of the hiring party’s mind if you want to keep their attention. You can be persistent without being pesky, but a follow-up has landed many speakers jobs and kept them busy. For more on the topic of follow-ups, check out my article: http://www.charlijane.com/article-searching-out-speaking-gigs-phone-calls-voicemail/.
And finally, in full-circle fashion, your marketing material now comes back into play. It is important to keep an everyday eye on your website (remember that?), ensuring that it and all your other marketing materials are actively representing your brand, because it is precisely these materials that hiring parties will reference. Once you have set yourself up as a speaker and you have built a strong public speaking platform, then many will find you online via your website, blog, articles, videos, social media, forums, word of mouth, and more. Make sure they are all readily available online and easily accessed. As you post around the Internet and build your connections, people will look to these materials to get a sense of your niche and your expertise. It will be extremely difficult to market yourself well without having built a speaker platform and brand already.
The best way to get yourself noticed is to market yourself, research, and connect. And most importantly, perhaps, of the whole lot, be persistent. Many people give up way too easy and way too soon. Get past all those “no”s, keep moving forward, and you will see success and find it all so much easier.
Start out simply by researching and really getting connected with the right market group for your niche. The more you narrow in and really get in the tight corner the better off you will be. Establish yourself in that corner, and you will see yourself booked and your public speaking business thrive! Now, go get engaged… with public speaking engagements, that is!