By Lily C Iatridis
Being invited to speak regularly is a wonderful place to be. You don't have to do the work anymore to get the speaking gig! But we're not all at that point all the time. And if you're not there, you mustn't be too picky about who accepts you as a guest speaker. Remember, even the local Rotary or Garden Club is perfectly acceptable when you're starting out.
It's important to get out there and leverage your time by speaking to groups.
So if you want to get regular speaking engagements, you've got to get on the phone and call people that don't know you. You have to promote yourself to people that may have no clue who you are.
Pretty uncomfortable, hey?
Well, here's how I've gone about finding my speaking engagements in the past, and it's worked well for me. I hope that it will do the same for you.
Know where you are.
In other words, get rid of the ego. I've heard complaints about speaking to groups while they're eating dinner, and I've done a few of those myself. Yes, it is distracting to speak amidst the sound of clinking glass and silverware with waiters crisscrossing the room in front of you. If you find situations like that truly horrible, then don't do it. But remember, you have to build your speaking resume somewhere, and as the old saying goes, "beggars can't be choosers." Taking the position that some groups aren't good enough for you is self-defeating, especially if your speaking calendar's not fully booked.
Prepare a "sales" letter and send it via email to the right contact person.
First, call the organization or research online to find the person who books speakers for the group. Then, write an email that describes the benefits of your message clearly, hits the emotional triggers of your target audience, and builds credibility around your work. When you send the letter, create an interesting subject line that will entice them to open your email.
There's a reasonable possibility that your email won't be opened. That's ok. You can reference the letter and it's contents briefly when you follow up with a phone call a few days later, which leads to the next step...
Follow up with a phone call!
Yes! Here's where that scary cold call comes in. Whether leaving a voice mail or if you're lucky and get a live person, deliver your five second intro. Then ask if their organization accepts guest speakers.
If you're leaving a voicemail, reference the letter you sent, repeat the primary benefit of your talk in less than 10 seconds. Close by repeating your name, company name, url and telephone number, and say you'll follow up again in a week.
If they don't accept speakers, ask for a suggestion on groups that do, thank them for their time, and move on to your next call.
Now, if you get a live person on the call and they do accept guest speakers, here's your opportunity to a) make a connection, b) do some relationship building, c) research your target market, and d) get on their speaking calendar. Take full advantage of this opportunity!
Remember: Have a conversation with the person on the other end. Do NOT dive into a monologue. Ever. First, ask if they have a few minutes to speak to you. If they're in the middle of a busy day and don't have time to speak, ask for a convenient time to call again, and call again at that time.
Get them talking about the problems you solve.
When you find someone who has the time to speak with you, get them talking about their or their members' problems your solution solves with questions. Wait and listen to their responses. Even if the topic gets a little off subject, that's ok because you're connecting and building rapport. Here's a little extra challenge for you- can you get them to laugh over something? Or laugh together over something?
Circle back to the speaking engagement.
Some local programmers want to meet you first before they commit. They want to get a feel for how good of a speaker you are. Go to one of their meetings and give a killer elevator pitch. A video of you giving a talk in front of an audience on your website would also be very useful.
Invite them to get better acquainted with you by joining your mailing list.
If the person on the other end can't commit to scheduling you right away, invite them to join your list to get better acquainted with you and your work. They almost always say yes. If they don't want to receive more subscriptions, that's perfectly understandable.
Hint to success: Never, ever act like you're personally hurt or disappointed by their response. Don't be attached to their "yes."
Most of the time, people that don't know you at all won't book you right away.
After the live conversation, send a personal email thanking them and giving instructions on how to subscribe to your list if they wish. For example, forewarn them to look out for the confirmation link email. If they decline the ezine subscription invitation, invite them to be your friend on Facebook.
Keep in touch.
Last but not least, keep a log of everyone you've called, when, and the response you received. If it's someone that has remained connected with you, try them again six months or a year into the future. Initial apprehension toward you as an unknown entity may have changed drastically for the better within a few months if you're good at marketing.
I've gotten some great clients and loyal followers that way! You can too. After all, you're in your business for the long haul, aren't you?
Lily Iatridis of Fearless Delivery, has a proven track record and knows the key elements in effective and engaging presentation. Her expertise is in supporting professionals to get their message expressed clearly to deliver the biggest results in their live and online presentations. Secrets and strategies such as "how-to" shortcuts, personalized instruction and even packaging the presentation are just some of the skill sets that Lily brings to her audience to create a fearless and effective delivery.
If you've ever been nervous in front of an audience, please visit http://www.FearlessDelivery.com and download Lily's free ebook, "5 Steps to Neutralize Difficult Audience Members- Without A Power Struggle!" In this ebook, Lily shares simple strategies that will put your mind at ease, arm you with useful strategies, and entertain you with some stories of her own bumps along the path to public speaking success.
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