Networking To Book Speaking Engagements
Public speaking is a great way for authors to generate income as well as a great opportunity to sell books directly to audiences. As the quiet, bookish type this might scare you just a little, and that is ok. But, you cannot let this fear stop you from the great opportunity that public speaking offers in growing your author brand and career. If you are wondering how on earth you are supposed to navigate the world of booking speaking engagements, preparing presentations, and selling your message and books to large audiences, then the next few weeks here will help you.
Let’s start with booking speaking engagements. One thing you must remember is that leaders are going to book speakers that they believe can help their group. They want an expert, not just an author. The good news is you are an expert. Keep this in mind when you are making your pitch to the leader. And, yes I did say the leader. This is who you should be speaking to when it comes to speaking engagements. The people who handle the administrative side of things are who you will be speaking to initially, and they may be easier to talk to, but you really want to talk with the leader to discuss your booking. They are the ones who have the decision making power. But, how do you get leaders interested in wanting to speak with you?
You need to have trust based relationships with leaders in your field. There are obviously two types of leaders in your life: those that you know, and those you don’t. Leaders that you know might be people that you have a personal relationship with, or people who are personal friends with one of your friends or business colleagues, or maybe they are the leader of a group or organization that you are a member of. You can use these connections to your advantage in gaining speaking engagements.
You can ask these leaders directly if you could benefit their company or organization. You can ask them for the contact info of another leader whose group might benefit from your expertise. You can ask them for endorsements for your book. Having endorsements from leaders in your field will go a long way in establishing your credibility with other leaders. Most importantly, when you have a speaking engagement, and the leader is pleased with your presentation, express to the leader how much you enjoyed it and ask if you could come back again. Getting a repeat booking is an easy way to ensure speaking engagements.
Making a connection with a leader that you have no ties to will prove slightly more difficult, however it is important to build as many connections as possible. You can do this by asking for the contact information from a leader that you know; leaders in the same field tend to run in the same circles. You can also meet leaders at conventions and conferences. Since you are an expert in your field, and you have written a book, or more than one, on the subject you should know when and where these gatherings are. If not, you can easily find the information on the internet. Attend several conferences, etc. and network with the leaders there. But, please do not make the following mistakes. Do NOT give a leader your business card right off. Do NOT talk about how incredibly awesome you are. Do NOT ask for a speaking engagement right then and there. This may seem counterintuitive, but remember you are trying to help people. You are trying to establish your credibility as a resource. No one wants to book someone who can only talk about themselves and only cares about money; which is how you will come across if you do these things.
Instead, ask the leader about their group. Try to ascertain the struggles they are having and if your expertise can be of assistance to them. Once you have determined that it can, you still don’t want to make the mistakes listed above. Ask the leader for their business card, and ask if you can send them a valuable resource that might be beneficial to their group. We have discussed previously that when you offer a free resource to people it shows them that you care about them, not selling books, and it helps you to gain their trust. After a few weeks follow up and ask if they found the resource helpful. If they did, and you get the impression that they now trust you as a valuable resource, then you can mention that you would be happy to speak to their group. If they seem uninterested, don’t be discouraged, just thank them for their time and ask if it would be alright to check back in with them in a few months. Initial disinterest does not mean that they will not find you, and your message, valuable at a later date.
This may all seem very overwhelming to an introverted writer, but it is all very important to marketing yourself and your book. And it does get easier. Try to think of this as building relationships instead of traditional “networking,” because, honestly, that’s what it is. You want to build relationships with leaders. Your end game should not be to sell more books or make more money through speaking engagements. Yes, you do want those things, but they are not why you became a writer. You became a writer so that you could meet a need in the world that only you could meet. And all of this networking, and booking speaking engagements, and speaking in front of people will seem a lot less scary when you remember why you became a writer in the first place.
What do you find most intimidating about traditional networking? Share it with us in the comments section below.
We gleaned some of this information from Rob Eagar’s book [amazon text=How to Sell Your Book Like Wildfire&asin=159963421X].