5. Use business cards to your advantage.
Almost everyone has a business card, so how can you use yours to help gain publicity? When accepting an engagement for free, tell the planner that you will do so under the condition that they place a business card on every seat in the room. That way, when people sit down and listen to you speak, and like you (I am assuming you are good at what you do…otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this), they can pick up your card and keep it with them for the future.
Next time these people need a speaker or know someone who needs a speaker, guess whose business card they have without ever meeting you one-on-one? That’s right – they have all your contact information in their Rolodex, which will hopefully lead to more engagements and money for YOU in the future.
6. Use your audience as a source for leads.
When other people say you’re good, it means about 2000% more than you saying you’re great.
If you are looking to increase your speaking engagements, one of the most popular ways of doing so is through networking and word of mouth.
Asking friends or others if they know of anyone who requires an engagement speaker can be quite tedious and boring. So next time you are giving a speech for “free,” use the audience to help give you referrals.
The first thing to do is to let the audience know that you are doing this pro-bono. When they hear this, they will wonder why you would be willing to do such a thing. Explain to the audience that you have an evaluation that you would appreciate them filling out. In the evaluation form (which could be placed on every seat, or handed out upon entrance/exit to the venue), ask them to rate you as a speaker.
Many people will be willing to give you constructive feedback on your presentation. Once you have people drawn into your survey, include a question regarding whether they know of anyone looking for speakers. It also helps if you can promise a reward for any referrals that lead to more business.
In addition to the referral section, include a section for people to sign up for your internet newsletter or online e-zine, in which you will keep them up-to-date with your speaking engagements and booking opportunities.
NOTE: When getting referrals, ask for names, phone numbers, and mailing addresses. DO NOT even bother asking for e-mail addresses or fax numbers The last thing you need is to be accused of sending spam or unsolicited faxes. These practices can really tarnish your reputation. Once you have an existing relationship, and obtain permission, e-mail and fax are great communications tools.
7. Don’t give out notes.
When you are speaking, do not print handouts or notes of any type for the engagements. Let people know that they are more than welcome to take their own notes throughout the duration of the speech, but also make the notes available on your website, and encourage them to visit your site.
Hopefully people will go home, get on the internet, and start visiting your site. This is a great way to keep yourself differentiated from other speakers and build a fan base.
To encourage visitors, DO offer a promotional item with your contact information to every attendee. Pens and pads are fine, and pretty standard; this is a great place to be really creative. Use your imagination to come up with something that people will want to keep on their desks. Even better, come up with something they’ll want to show to others.
One speaker I know gives out small mirrors with her contact information printed on the plastic frame. The frames are designed to attach easily to cubicle walls. Because she works with customer service professionals who spend their days in a cubicle, these are a big hit. Her message, that “people can actually hear your smile over the phone” makes her gift especially purposeful as well.
8. Sell your products and services before, during, and after the speech.
This one probably doesn’t even need to be on the list, but some new speakers fail to understand that speaking is always about selling. Speak for free, sure, but let your audience know that you are more than a speaker.
You don’t need to do a hard sell. I don’t even think you need a soft sell. But you should clearly communicate that you are an expert, and make it clear that you earn money in ways other than speaking.
No matter what you speak on, you should have a consulting fee. If someone wants to get your professional advice, be prepared to offer it – for a fee! I’m not saying that you shouldn’t answer questions for free, but there’s nothing wrong with working out a day of consulting.
If you do have resources that can be purchased at the back of the room, make sure to ask for permission from the venue coordinator before you make a sales pitch. Any kind of audio or data CD, resource kit, or even a DVD of previous speeches (that can be recorded for free… refer to tip #1) can be sold.
Some items cost pennies to reproduce and can often be sold for hundreds of dollars… that is almost pure profit!!!
(Part 3… coming next week!)
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BRYAN CAPLOVITZ is the founder and creator of SpeakerMatch. SpeakerMatch makes it easy to find free and low-fee speaking engagements. It is the only online source of current, available speaking opportunities for emerging professional speakers. Our proprietary software will match your unique skills with the needs of meeting planners and notify you instantly. We provide HOT leads, from organizations who are actively seeking speakers now.
For more information, visit http://www.speakermatch.com/speaker, or call us at 1-866-372-8768.
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