I bet the title of this post brings to mind sweaty palms, red faces, voice quivers, and maybe even some hyperventilation. The simple fact of the matter is that speaking in front of your target audience can be a wonderful way to attract clients and grow you business. Unfortunately, these opportunities are often overlooked or ignored for other “less visual” options. They shouldn’t be, though. The most powerful tool that you have for your business is you!
Typically, there are a few different kinds of speaking engagements. Today, I am referring to the types that build your network, your authority, and/or give back to the community.
Where do I find these types of engagements?
In your next staff meeting, brain storm in these areas with your target market in mind:
- Public Gatherings
- Special Events
Once you have a list together, approach these organizations and offer to speak on a topic that their audience will be interested in. Make sure you’re prepared for any questions they may have about you or your topic.
For example, if your business offers editorial assistance to writers in the business market, speaking at a local organization for small businesses about a topic that is relevant to them will not only showcase you, but also your business.
Remember, when selecting events and organizations to partner with, it is vital to seek out your ideal market. During your brainstorming, make sure to “think outside the box” as you consider markets you could potentially break into.
What if I can’t find any engagements to speak at?
Create your own! Contact your local small business bureau or chamber of commerce and ask them if you can hold a learning hour or free workshop for your ideal clients. Often times they will carry at least half the cost of advertising and promoting it! Make sure that you have your topic and idea ready when you call. It also helps if you already have a working relationship with the chamber of commerce in your area.
What should I do other than talk?
Be smart about the time and effort you put in. Think about each person in attendance as potential clients, but push past formal business talk to cater to them as a person as well. This builds a solid foundation and will win you clients and their friends.
In addition, I recommend these things:
- Gather email addresses. Use a sign-in sheet requiring a minimum of a first and last name and email address. Studies show that email reaches more clients than other advertising avenues such as Facebook and social media. Take advantage of this opportunity to grow your mailing list!
- Have business cards and any promotional materials ready. I am not a fan of spending tons of marketing dollars on fancy brochures, personalized pens, or mini-calendars, in fact, I feel those things are mostly unnecessary. However, your best option is to have nice, professional business cards that direct your audience to your website and office phone number. Optionally, a simple post card or rack card can be printed using an online printer like VistaPrint.com for around $100 for 500 pieces with any key points to highlight or services offered. For additional saving, check online for discount codes that are often offered.
- Consider giving something away. A great way to guarantee attendance and audience participation is to partner with a vendor to cross promote a program or service they offer that fits in with your topic. Typically, one lucky attendee will receive some sort of complimentary consultation, or it may be something as simple as a Starbucks gift card. To choose a gift, keep your clientele in mind. What would they like to win? What will capture their attention? Additionally, consider offering discounts on your service for those in attendance.
- Bring along an office member that can help with all of the setup and taking appointments or sales questions. If you have an assistant or coworker you can bring along, they can be referred to in order to setup appointments while you answer questions. It’s always nice to have additional hands-on-deck to provide a personal touch to your event as well.
Once you get a few talks under your belt, you will be amazed at how much more confident you’ll be speaking in front of others. It always helps when you are passionate about what you are sharing as well. I recommend topics that you are knowledgeable about and that correspond to your business. During these engagements, you’ll have the ability to establish credibility and authority, as well as have a hand in giving back to your community all while building your business.