with Aliza Sherman
If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.
To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.
In my previous post, I talked about public speaking as a marketing tool for you and your business. If you feel you are ready to get out in public and speak, you should probably start off as a panelist. That gives you a chance to get used to being in front of an audience while the entire “show” doesn’t rest on you. You can also learn from fellow panelists to see how they handle themselves in front of a crowd.
So how do you find speaking engagements?
I mentioned before that if you are interested in public speaking, make that clear on your Web site. But I don’t advise sitting around and waiting for the speaking engagements to roll in.
You have to be proactive about finding speaking gigs by making contacts and sending out your speaker media kit. Here are some places to look.
1. Local Chamber of Commerce. One of the best “starter” speaking gigs is for your local Chamber. They are always looking for speakers with good information for their members. Yes, you will probably need to join your Chamber if you haven’t already as they tend to favor Chamber members as speakers. Often they will offer a brown bag lunch session for 45 minutes - a very manageable length for a presentation. This is usually not a paying gig.
2. Local SBA or SBDC. There are Small Business Administration offices and the Small Business Development Centers in cities and towns across the country. Similar to a Chamber, their constituents are business oriented individuals but instead of having members, they have “clients” to whom they consult. Business-oriented topics particularly for entrepreneurs will be most welcome. This is usually not a paying gig although you might get a free lunch.
3. Local Trade Associations and Organizations. Every town has dozens of local organizations to support various industries. Even if you are not in the industry, if you have a topic of value and interest to their members, there is a good chance they will book you. I’ve spoken to groups as diverse as women journalists, technical writers, and small business owners about blogging as a business and marketing tool. I just tailored my speech to fit the audience. Some organizations offer a token honorarium to speakers but usually it is unpaid although you may score a meal out of it.
4. Local Civic Groups. You may not be a member of Rotary or the Soroptimists or any number of civic groups in your area, but you probably know someone. Approach them to introduce you to their events person who is most likely on the lookout for speakers for their monthly breakfasts or lunches. Their members tend to be professionals in both local government and business so your topic needs to be broad and compelling. Another free lunch.
5. Local Bookstores. If you have published a book, approach your local bookstores. Start with the independently owned stores who may be more receptive - and pay more attention - to promoting local authors. If you haven’t written a book, you could still approach your bookstore to speak about a specific topic and then offer to promote a handful of books written by others pertaining to that topic. Don’t shy away from the Barnes & Nobles or Borders stores. Often they have someone on staff who is enthusiastic about bringing local experts into the store for events. These are always free to the public and no money for you, but you might get a discount on books for a day.
6. Annual Conferences for Local Organizations. Often Chambers, the SBA and SBDCs as well as other organizations hold annual conferences or expos and those may offer various speaking opportunities such as panels, workshops and keynotes. These events may pay a small honorarium - anything from $50 to several hundred dollars - and should include free admission to the event and all meals.
7. National Conferences. Identify target audiences for your speech topics and locate national organizations (using Google) that hold annual conferences. These events often book a large number of panelists, workshop leaders and several keynotes. At the national level, keynotes are often reserved for well-known personalities. If you’ve developed an interactive workshop around a compelling topic, you may land your own time slot. It may be much easier to slide into a panelist position, but make sure you are matched up with a panel on a topic you know inside and out. To get these national gigs, send a media kit to the person in charge of booking speakers (do your research, Google, make phone calls). These events often offer all-expenses paid in lieu of a speaking fee for everyone except the keynote speakers. If they feel your topic is going to be hot and in demand, they may cough up some bucks for a workshop. You definitely should get free admission to the entire event, free meals, hotel, airfare, and probably even reimbursement for ground travel and miscellaneous expenses such as long distance calls and Internet access if you have to pay for it. I actually had one host pay my salon bill because I wanted to get my hair done before the event, and she felt badly that she couldn’t afford to pay my usual fee.
The more speaking engagements you do, the better you get. You know you are getting to be a good public speaker when one speaking engagement leads to another because someone saw you and recommended you to someone else. Eventually, if you are really good at both speaking and networking, you’ll establish relationships with organizations who will ask you back to subsequent events.
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