Find and get speaking engagements

Speaking on the Side is filled with dozens of practical suggestions on how you can get speaking engagements. Here’s a small sampling:

Make cold calls. One of my favorite quotes comes from Fairfax Cone, legendary adman and co-founder of Foote, Cone, & Belding, now Draftfcb. Cone said: “Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody.” Since you and I can “go see somebody,” we should do that first before anything else! Find some organizations where you’d like to get speaking engagements. Scroll through their websites or your LinkedIn profile and find the names of people who might hire speakers. Pick up the phone. Send them an e-mail. Or walk in the front door, as Cone might have done. I’ve always been a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts. The coffee, the Munchkins, the violently pink color scheme … I just like the brand. Early in my career, I found the nerve to walk up to one of their regional VPs, stick out my hand, and ask him how I could help. I guess he was impressed. A few months later, I was the opening speaker at the Eastern regional meeting for Dunkin’ Donuts. It was my very first paid speaking gig. Remember Fairfax Cone. Go see somebody.

Invite potential clients to a “showcase” webinar. This is something that I’ve never done. It sounded so good when I heard about it, though, that I needed to share it with you. Instead of sending out the usual “Check out my site and hire me please!” e-mails, you instead invite prospects to a webinar where they get a preview of your speaking abilities. You might present a few short snippets from your most popular presentations. Even if just a handful of prospects attend, you’ve now created a captive audience ideally suited to hiring you. Heck, they’re just sitting in front of their computers, listening to you, imagining which sessions to book you for at their fall conference! I think this would be an amazing idea for a group of three or four “friendly” speakers to execute together, so that planners and training managers could sample a few different presenters all at once. Note that managing webinars is a discipline unto itself. There are some good, affordable platforms available that make the process easier—GoToWebinar and Zipcast (from SlideShare) come to mind—and a number of articles on webinar best practices worth tracking down.

Need a Speaker/Be a Speaker. This private group on LinkedIn is one of the most active communities I’ve seen on the business social network and an inexpensive way to get speaking engagements. Once you’re accepted, you can scroll through the “subgroups,” where meeting planners and training professionals post calls for speakers. If a request sounds like your cup of tea, you simply post a reply. Founder and moderator, Gary Unger, explains: “Use NAS/BAS as a free resource to connect with other speakers, get notices of any calls for speakers, network with other speakers, and more. It’s always online and available. There is no waiting for a speaker’s bureau to call you or a one-time date to meet with other speakers or even event planners. It’s always on.”

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