Like any industry, when you’re first getting started as a beginning speaker, you face a host of challenges.
If you want to find speaking opportunities, you face the speed bumps of not being well-known, or perhaps you’ve only spoken for free or in front of very small groups. Or maybe you don’t have a website or demo reel yet. If that sounds like you, then you might benefit from the information in today’s blog article.
We provide some hot tips (courtesy of keynote speaker, entrepreneur and author, Laurie Guest, CSP, CPAE) that are specific to beginning speakers, though veteran speakers may also find some great insights, too. Follow these insights to find speaking opportunities and turn them into paid gigs!
1. Make Your 100 List to Find Leads
When it comes to finding your initial leads and establishing yourself, this is one of the best tips if you’re just getting started (though established speakers can most certainly benefit from this tip, too!).
Create a list of 100 people who know you. Yes, family can be included, but only if they are connected to an organization that could benefit from your work. That’s because the entire point of the 100 List is to ask everyone on it to help you identify organizations that might benefit from your work. Once you have your list, you’ll want to craft a sales letter or email to every person on that list.
To make it easier, yet still effective, consider creating a general template that includes these points:
- Hyper-personalized intro sentence (or two). This will be changed out with each letter/email, and should be written specifically to the person who will receive it.
- Share what you offer. Keep it short, simple, and all about the benefits for them. No long “about me” here. Focus on how hiring you will benefit them as an organization.
- Personalized call-to-action. You MUST ask for what you want. Do you want them to pass along your name to someone in their organization? Ask them to do so (politely, of course!). Or, maybe they’re the decision-maker with an organization relevant to you, and you want them to hire you. Whatever it is — ask for it.
A tip for established speakers: Have you done this? If so, try touching base with your list every few years to see what new work can be generated. If you haven’t created your 100 List yet, then give it a try and see what new leads arise.
2. Prioritize Hot Leads to Get More Gigs
After you give a presentation, you may be approached by people afterward who ask you for your card. They may express interest in your work and say that they will definitely call you to book you for their next meeting or event. Great! But then one week passes, and then another week, and then you realize it’s two months later and you never heard from this “hot lead.”
One thing established speakers will always tell beginner speakers: don’t let leads come to you — chase them!
That means if someone approaches you and asks you for your business card, yes, you should definitely give them your information. But, more importantly, you want to make it a point to get their business card along with their permission to call them the next day/week so you can hear more about their needs. Then, you stick to your word. Call them.
3. Do Your Homework to Create Instant Rapport
But before you call anyone — do your research. This includes researching the organization (a quick perusal of their website should do that trick), as well as the contact person.
When you look at the organization’s website, take notes about the terminology used, their values, or their mission statement. Look at their past events to see past speakers they’ve hired. What level are they at? Use this information to your advantage. If you’re a beginning speaker, and they’re a well-known name, it’s probably more effective for you to focus on getting a breakout session rather than scoring the closing keynote.
When you research the contact person, look them up on all visible social media. That includes LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and a good old Google search will show you any relevant digital information you need to know. And you’re not just blindly collecting data — look for anything that is genuinely interesting to you — any interests, common bonds, or hobbies you might share.
When you call your lead, don’t lead with all the research you did. You want to naturally incorporate it into the conversation as you ask them about their needs. Listen, and when you do speak, align your terminology and tone with the language on the organization’s website. And keep it focused on them — echo back the meeting planner’s needs and focus your conversation on how you can solve them.
Doing all of that will help you immediately form a connection.
If you find in your research that you do share a common bond, don’t blurt it out — wait for a natural moment in conversation to bring it up. No matter what, you will be prepared for anything.
Follow these insights — especially the 100 List — and you’ll be generating up plenty of valuable leads. In the meantime, if you’re looking for additional ways to establish yourself as a beginning speaker and find speaking opportunities, check out these articles: