Professional Speaking – Courting Clients

You have found your positioning, decided on your topics and titles and know what segment of the market to target in your marketing campaign. And I’m serious about calling it a campaign, you need to take it every bit as seriously as a political candidate takes his or her campaign.

The best way to get speaking engagements is by creating a relationship with the conference organizers or meeting planners or CEO’s who are actually the buyers.

You can do this by joining the same organizations they belong to, by writing for the publications they read or by joining the right networking group.

Keep in mind that you’re building a relationship, not pitching to someone who happens to sit at your lunch table during an event.

The other ways of finding clients is by simply making cold calls to the organizations that you feel would be the best fit for you.

It’s better when you can hire someone to make those initial calls (I call them ‘fishing’) to simply inquire as to whether the organization sometimes hires speakers, whether they have anything coming up and whether they’d like to look at your material.

Once your material has been sent out, you have to follow up. And in order to do that in big numbers, you need to have a really efficient system for collecting data so that you know who needs to be called when, who you should speak to and what his or her comments were last time around. You then go into that follow up phone call well armed with information.

Be persistent but never pesky, never aggressive or pushy. If your services aren’t needed this time around, ask when the planning begins for the next conference, make note and send your material out and follow up all over again.

It can be tiresome, no question, but you will build up a great database which you can go back to again and again.

Here are some organizations – ask yourself which ones would benefit from hearing you speak:

Tourism Industry

Sales Professionals

Banks/Insurance Companies

Community Organizations/Charities



Government Agencies


Small Businesses/Entrepreneurs

Fortune 500 Group

Special Interest Groups

Cruise Ship Passengers

Youth Groups

Non Profits

I strongly recommend that you focus on the groups where you get the highest financial return, that may require you to tweak your speech to match that particular marketplace.

Some speakers make a standing offer to organizations to be their fill-in speaker – in case the person they’ve hired can’t make it at the last minute. It’s a good way to get your foot in the door.

You can also ask other speakers who don’t compete with you and are roughly at the same fee level if they’d be willing to recommend you for engagements they’re unable to fulfill and let them know you’re willing to return the favor. Make sure this arrangement is kept on an equal footing.

Be easy to work with. Show up early. Let the conference organizer know that you’ve arrived – the night before if there’s travel involved. Be available by cell phone 24 hours before the conference starts. If the schedule gets behind, offer to cut out parts of your speech to make up time.

Make the meeting planner your partner in the event and you’ll get booked over and over again.

Cathleen Fillmore, owner of Speakers Gold bureau, consults with speakers who want to find the money in the marketplace and maximize the returns on their talents. Cathleen is a member of MPI, a certified consultant with the American Consultant’s League and a consultant to some of North America’s top speakers. Sign up for her advanced marketing techniques newsletter ‘Speakers Gold’ at * and get a free report on Getting Paid for Speaking.

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