How to Use Speaking Engagements to Market Your Freelance Business
Does the title scare you? Don’t let it! Public speaking can be a powerful marketing tool … well worth facing your fears for.
My own first speaking engagement in front of strangers was at a lunch meeting of 10 local business professionals.
I talked about engagement marketing. I discussed Web content and social media. I used my niche (wineries) in my examples even though none of the attendees were directly associated with the wine industry.
And guess what? It turned out one of the people there that day knows the CFO of a well-known California winery and is willing to introduce me to him. Another guy is launching a local lifestyle magazine and asked me to write a regular wine column for the mag.
And everyone there signed up to be on my email list for notification of the release of my upcoming e-book on engagement marketing.
So let’s talk about how you can do speaking engagements, too …
Why should you even consider it?
Three reasons: visibility, credibility, and profitability.
- Visibility — Speaking at an event gives you exposure to potential clients and referrals. Your next big client may be sitting in the crowd! And if the people at the event don’t need your services, they’ll still talk about you to others who may.
- Credibility — Speaking at an event — even if it’s just a small lunch meeting — builds your credibility and immediately elevates you to expert status. Let’s face it, if you can talk about a subject for 30-40 minutes, you must know a thing or two about it!
- Profitability — Most event organizers will let you pass around a sign-up sheet or have it available at a table to collect contact information if people are interested. (Build that list!) Additionally, if you have books or special reports you sell, most are happy to let you sell these items at the close of the program.
And you have bragging rights after the event, too. Now you can tell other groups that you have spoken on XYZ subject to ABC group, and this elevates your chances of landing additional speaking gigs.
What should you talk about?
Remember that your goal is to build your reputation as a copywriter in your niche, and build your credibility as an expert …
So talk about your specialty and how you help your clients.
For example, I claim the titles of Web Content Specialist and Social Media Expert. I give presentations about using Web content and social media to engage online with customers/clients. I explain why that’s a good thing and give a few tips and suggestions.
If you’re an SEO Expert, you could present valuable information about Search Engine Optimization and how it helps your clients get results.
If you’re an Email Marketing Specialist, you could talk about best practices of email marketing and tips for making an email marketing plan more effective.
Talk about your specialty, but be careful not to deliver a sales pitch. When you deliver genuinely useful information, those in the audience will remember you and call on you when the time is right.
Who do you want to speak to?
Ideally, you want to speak to an audience of prospective clients. That means business owners or decision makers from businesses in your niche … or whoever your clients are!
However, you can benefit from speaking outside of your niche, too. You gain experience from every speaking engagement you do, and you have an excellent opportunity to obtain testimonials from the event coordinators.
You can then use the testimonials and list of prior speaking events when you approach the speaker coordinator for an event specific to your target niche. You’ve increased your credibility by establishing a proven track record. You can leverage that to get in front of your ideal audience.
That’s my plan!
I’ve been speaking about Web content and social media to groups of local business people from no particular niche … just general business professionals. I gain experience and gather testimonials from the organizers.
Next, I’ll use these when I approach the speaker coordinators of regional wine industry conferences and suggest that I speak about my specialties and how they relate to wineries.
When that happens, I’ll be speaking to a room full of targeted, niche-specific prospects. And you can, too! Whatever your niche, you can apply this same strategy to gain visibility and credibility with your ideal clients.
How do you get booked as a speaker?
Your first step is getting the word out that you’re available to speak to groups about your specialty subject. Tell everybody you know just what you’re doing. Ask if they know others who are in charge of arranging speakers for events or meetings.
If you know of a particular group and/or event that is a good match for your topic, reach out to one of the organizers. Some groups struggle to find new speakers and new topics, so in reaching out, you may be helping them more than you realize.
This can be a slow process, as some groups and events book their speakers months in advance. But others have opportunities more often. Either way, it’s definitely a case where patience and persistence will pay off.
How do you get over stage jitters?
Remember, the people in your audience are pulling for you! They are interested in what you’re sharing with them, and they want you to succeed on that stage. If you’re open to it, they’re sending you positive energy you can use to combat any stage jitters you may be feeling.
I like to smile and make eye contact with those in the audience who seem particularly interested in what I have to say. This actually has a two-fold benefit: I appear more personable, and I feel I have friends and allies listening to me (a BIG mental benefit!).
Here are two other ways to have a few friends in the audience:
- Invite some of yours to attend if the meeting or event is open to the general public.
- Arrive early, meet some of the attendees, and make some new friends.
You have to realize and believe you possess valuable information and special knowledge that most of the population doesn’t. Claim your status as an expert, and then present yourself as such. Your book of business and your bottom line will benefit.
By the way, I didn’t think any of this up on my own. Many successful people have used this marketing model to launch their careers. In fact, web copywriting guru Nick Usborne is one of them!
Speaking helped Nick market his freelance business, it’s helping me, and it can help you, too! Let me know how it goes!
This article, How to Use Speaking Engagements to Market Your Freelance Business, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.
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