One of the best ways to build your business is to talk about it.
It’s not just talking to your clients or prospective clients that helps your cause. Taking the conversation to a bigger stage can give your business a significant boost.
Talking to larger groups as a speaker can establish you as an expert, a knowledgeable source of information. That credibility boost will help you to retain clients and engage new ones.
The content of your talk doesn’t have to be directly promotional about your business. In fact, it’s more effective if you talk about some aspect of what you offer, and provide valuable information about it.
As an example, at a recent speaking engagement at a conference, I spoke about pricing, because I know that is a challenging area for many entrepreneurs. I talked about ways to approach pricing that would ease the process. It gave me a chance to present myself as a business coach, and to give the audience value, as well as establishing my expertise.
By giving the audience a taste of what you know, it does much to start the conversation about how you might work together.
Speak? You might have said that with a little squeak in your voice. Public speaking can be a scary prospect. Many people fear it.
So, to get past any initial reluctance, pick a group that is small. It might even include a welcoming audience of people that you already know. Then, practice on your own or in front of a close friend or colleague, and get their feedback.
You can ease into speaking in a way that helps you feel supported.
Once you move through the fear enough to start, how do you identify and book speaking opportunities? Here are 5 strategies to get you on stage:
1. Start locally. There are likely organizations in your area that would benefit from your expertise. Do some research, either online or by talking with people associated with the organizations. Make a list of those you think would be good venues to speak, and then attend a meeting or two to gauge both the audience and the opportunities.
2. Identify conferences and large meetings in your field. You can potentially reach a large number of people where they are already gathering. If a conference is where people in your field meet, then you can stand out from the crowd by being a presenter. Determine which conference(s) will allow you to connect with potential clients, and find out how to become a presenter. Most conferences already have online information available to help you do so. Go to the conference to check it out, and talk to other presenters.
3. Make a list and prioritize it. List all the groups and conferences you’d like to present at, where your ideal clients are likely to be. Prioritize them using criteria that are important to you. Criteria can include the number of people you can reach, influencers who might also be present that you want to connect with, and proximity to home. You don’t have to stick to local organizations: if a regional group fits the bill, then you can expand your scope to those as well.
4. Start contacting them. Find out who to connect with to discuss speaking opportunities. They may be readily identified online, or you may need to make a call or send an email to find out. Go to the person who makes those choices directly, if you can. Even if they aren’t able to book you in right away, the conversation will be informative, and you may have a future opportunity.
5. Follow up. Ensure that you’re seen as reliable and interested right from the start. If you don’t get an immediate response, follow up after a reasonable period. Reply to any response you get from them as soon as you can. Send them any information they have requested, and then follow up by asking if they received it and if they have any questions. Your sustained enthusiasm will benefit you and the organization where you’d like to speak.
When you do start speaking, give people an opportunity to be on your email list, so you can continue to contact them about what you offer. Let them know how to do that in clear, simple instructions.
Or provide a signup sheet, and include the necessary wording on the sheet to show they are giving their consent for you to do so (now required in countries like Canada).
If you have the opportunity, highlight a particular offering that you want to promote. Provide materials the audience can take home. Worksheets can offer great value – include your contact information.
Speaking is a great way to get your business in front of the audience that includes your ideal clients. Plus, you get to share what you’re most passionate about!
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