You've created a great new product or service, and as you're drumming up interest in your business, you feel the need to shout it to the world. Shout it while being the expert speaker in town, and your message (and company, by extension) will gain credibility.
Whether you sell high-tech gadgets or craft supplies, or you're a dog-walker or a restaurateur, you are an expert in something. Becoming a public speaker will allow you to share that expertise and get your business recognized at the same time. "There are two main issues: You want to get exposure . . . and, coupled with that, you need to convey credibility so that people see you as the [reliable] source in your industry," says Victoria Chorbajian of Chorbajian Speaking Enterprises, a public-speaking coach in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and creator of the CD Proper Preparation Creates a Winning Presentation (available at www.victoriathecoach.com).
Before you market your speaking services, make sure you spend some time preparing what you want to say. You'll want to educate your audience on something of interest to them--your presentation shouldn't just be a commercial for your business. For example, if you own a scrapbooking company, host a seminar on creating lasting memories. Or if you're a computer and high-tech business consultant, you could lead a session on how to choose software to protect your network.
Contact local groups (either business or consumer, depending on your expertise) and market your speaking services. Once you are booked, rehearse, make backup materials, and prepare answers to possible questions.
Finally, notes Chorbajian, follow up with notes and phone calls to key contacts. "Keep it brief--light, friendly and professional," she says. A phone call to see if they need any more information will help keep you in their minds as a credible source. Says Chorbajian, "Most entrepreneurs don't take advantage of such a vital form of communication that can win people over."