Speaking is a dream of many entrepreneurs. To get onstage in front of a room of people who are eagerly awaiting your every word is appealing. The income and impact are also great motivators.
To book paid speaking, however, has been a struggle for a large percentage of entrepreneurs. All over the world there are thousands of events everyday, but finding the ones that pay can be a needle in a haystack.
There are speaking agents and bureaus that offer to help, but the results haven’t been impressive. Most of these services only offer to get you leads, but there are three ways you can book paid speaking on your own and for free, if you’re willing to put in some legwork.
1. Target industry associations
Whenever we think of a conference, we think of an event like New Media Expo. However, these large events do not pay speakers. Because they’re so popular, many speakers gladly come and speak for free to gain exposure and new contacts.
If you want to book paid speaking, your best bet is to speak at the conferences of industry associations. These industries could be healthcare, lawyers, auto, and so on. Speaking for these associations doesn’t mean you have to talk about their industry. You can talk about topics to help their industry, and these are the topics they want to learn more about. They are looking for new skills and strategies to help improve their industry. If you're a social media expert, for example, you could have a talk about social media marketing strategies healthcare institutions need to incorporate.
Industry associations have budgets to pay speakers and are always looking for new and interesting entrepreneurs. You can find these associations with a simple Google search. Also, many of these and other conferences around the world can be found through a website such as Lanyrd.
2. Book consulting at companies
Last year companies paid outside consults $39.3 billion dollars according to Business Week. These companies bring in consultants to train on every topic imaginable. While you might not get the experience of speaking to a crowed room, you can still generate income and make a difference in a global company.
To book outside consulting, start local. Chances are you have a connection to a company where you live. Here is a formula you can use.
- Identity a company where you can talk to a decision maker.
- Research that company and identify the problem you will solve.
- Offer to take the decision maker out for a coffee, dinner or grab 10 minutes of their time. A cold email rarely works. Face to face is what closes the deal.
- Present the problem that you can help solve. This presentation should include hard numbers, not your opinion. You want to show this company why they can’t afford to not hire you. They also want to make sure they get a return on their investment.
- Charge a rate that’s worth your time.
- Do a good job and get referrals.
In 2012, I booked my first consulting contract at a local McDonald’s franchise. Last year I booked contracts at companies in London, Japan, Paris and Kenya. This strategy works.
3. Leverage Rotary Clubs or Chamber of Commerce meetings
In every state, there are Rotary Clubs and Chamber of Commerce meetings. These meetings bring in speakers. While the event may not be paid, the opportunity is there. These meetings are for business owners and executives, who have their own events. One good presentation can create a full speaking or consulting schedule for you.
Research the meetings where you live. Offer to meet the organizer or send that person your proposal. Make the talk unique and with clear takeaways. Event organizers want their audience to walk away with actionable information. Get video of the talk and testimonials from those in the audience. Once you’ve spoken, network like an entrepreneur and create new opportunities.
You can set up a table that has your books, a one-sheet to book you to speak, and a one-sheet that explains your coaching program or group class. When you add value at your event, people will naturally want to know what else you offer. The income adds up.
Be sure to have a sign up for your email list at the event. At the very least it's a good opportunity to add names to your list that could be future customers. You can have a sign up sheet somewhere or use a text to add program.
Many email service provides now offer the option to have people opt in to your email list through text messaging. I use MailChimp, and I know they offer it. It’s very convenient to say “text hello to 555” and get people to sign up.
The world of paid speaking doesn’t have to be a mystery for entrepreneurs. Nor do you have to pay thousands of dollars for speaker services that promise results, but deliver disappointment. Finding paid speaking takes time and legwork, but the results are amazing. Traveling the world and getting paid to do it will never get old.