5 Simple Tips to Get Your Speaking Career Off the Ground

Last week, I received a lot of questions about “How do I start a speaking career?”  So, how do you get started?  As a former meeting planner and professional speaker manager, I have seen so many entrepreneurs and professionals who had a great deal to say but just didn’t know how to brand and market themselves.  For an entrepreneur or business executive, speaking is a powerful tool in building your personal brand as an authority or market influencer.  If you’re good, it can be lucrative, too!

There are essentially two types of speakers.  You are either (1) a motivational speaker or (2) an expert speaking on a particular subject matter.  For the sake of this blog post, I’m going to focus on the subject matter expert category, as those types of speaker possess the highest revenue potential.

3 Things to Keep in Mind

Previously, I was a talent manager for a speaker who earned $25,000 per keynote (which only the top 5% achieve), the majority of speakers earn between $7,500-$10,000 per speaking engagement.  Honestly, this is a “sweet spot” for the corporate and association meetings marketplace.  As you start to build and establish your speaking career, there are three things for you to keep in mind about the speaking industry:

1)   Speaking opportunities are often generated by Word-Of-Mouth referrals and building relationships. So you have to “Work it….To Earn It”.

2)   Corporations are “Desperate But Hopeful” to find experts who can provide a new and unique approach to help solve critical issues, foster innovation, increase performance, and grow customer engagement.

3)   Reputation is Everything!  Reputation reflects your ability to speak, deliver real tangible solutions and tools, excellent reviews received from your audience, and your professionalism.

Let’s Get Started!

Whether you are new to speaking, or, simply looking to take your speaking career to the next level it is critical to recognize the importance of building a strong foundation to support your personal brand and having the ability to communicate that brand in a clear and concise message “Who You Are” and “What You Do” across multiple platforms (speaking, social media, other media, website, and original content).  The lack of a clear message is the #1 reason why people don’t get speaking gigs.

Here are five things you can do today to start your speaking career:

1. Start Your Social Media Today – The day you decide you want to speak is the day you need to start a social media marketing strategy to build followers and connections to market your speaking services.   You want to put your best face out there for everyone to see, so you must present an up to date, professional online image.  According to Guy Kawasaki, 90% of your avatar (picture) should be your face, and the background image, the other 10%, should tell a story about “Who You Are”.  If you want to represent a professional image, then your avatar needs to exude professionalism.  For the corporate and association markets, it’s critical to have a LinkedIn and Twitter account.  Complete your profile so it reflects your current expertise, key words for your target market, work experience, and accomplishments. You should use the same profile avatar for all your social accounts and in your marketing materials. No matter how people connect to you, whether Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, potential clients should be able to recognize you instantly online or in person.

2. Have a Great Headshot/Avatar Picture – A picture says a thousand words!  Don’t be cheap!  Your picture should be taken by a professional photographer.  This will run between $500-$1,000.  People connect to other people on both an emotional and personal level, so smile, let them see your eyes, and exude that confidence and positive attitude.  You always want to put your best foot forward for that first impression, and your picture is often the first way people are introduced in today’s digital age.

3. To Whom Do You Want to Be A Hero to? – This is a question I ask all my clients. Speaking is a tough business and it puts a lot of demands on you physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Life is too short to be working for or with people you don’t like.  Or to not to be able to do the things that gives you energy and passion.  Audiences appreciate and admire when they see passion and get energized when they feel you truly understand their challenges and dreams.  I heard a dynamic Mark Buckingham speak and read his book Go Put Your Strengths to Work. It changed my life and how I work.  Required Reading!

4. Get Clear – My rule of thumb is no more than three speaking topics.  SERIOUSLY! I have had professional speakers send me a list of twelve speaking topics.  I didn’t hire them and never referred them.  This looks like you are desperate and “Jack of all trades, but Master of None”. The person hiring you doesn’t have time try to figure out what you do.  As a professional speaker you must brand and position yourself as an expert or authority and convey a clear message of “Who Are You” and “What You Do”.

5. Do the Hustle! – Just like any business, you have to hustle to get new business.  Unless you have a bestselling book, your first speaking gigs usually come from your own professional network.   Identify 10-20 people in your network who can personally vouch for you or are very well connected and willing to introduce you to potential speaking clients in your target market.  Also, look for opportunities to be a panelist.  Submit a Call for Presentation to a local or national trade or professional association, or check out speakermatch.com.    If you work for an organization, is there an internal opportunity for you to present?  You can even host a Meetup.com event and run your own session. The point with these suggestions is, “you have to start putting yourself out there and start building your reputation as an expert or subject authority, and practice speaking to help your refine your message.” Don’t expect these first gigs to pay.  It is more important to get the exposure to establish your expertise, hone your craft, and build your reputation.  I highly recommend your read Relationship Economics: Transform Your Most Valuable Business Contacts Into Personal and Professional Success by David Nour

I hope this has been helpful and want to hear from you.  Do you have a speaking topic? Who do you want to be a hero to? Do you have connections to people who can refer, recommend, or hire you as a speaker? Are you on social media? Why or Why not?  What’s stopping you from starting a speaking career?  Send me your questions, I would be happy to answer.

3 Tips to Getting Over Writer’s Block and Get Your Voice Heard

The narrative I’ve always told myself “I’m not a writer”, “I don’t know what to write”, “I don’t have time”, or “It needs to perfect”. Pick any of the previous statements as an excuse that stopped me from blogging or writing content for personal branding.

Sound familiar?  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.  It sucks to push yourself out of a comfort zone, but as a personal branding strategist, I have to practice what I preach to my clients, which is…

Become an Industry Thought Leader

“The key driver in harnessing the power of a personal brand is to establish yourself as authority or market influencer by producing original content (i.e. blogs, books, eBooks, or articles) to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and talent.”

Just like you, I’m building my personal brand and business, too!  If you are an entrepreneur or professional, and are struggling with finding your “writer’s momentum”, here are three things that worked well for me:

3 Keys to Build Momentum as a Professional Writer

1. What to write?  Personally, I had 500+ LinkedIn contacts and over 1500 contacts in my CRM that I was not leveraging nor engaging.  My online marketing strategist had me come up with a list of ten pain points/struggles for each market.  Within 10 minutes, I had 20 topics for blog postings. 

Coaching Point:  Schedule 30 minutes at the beginning of your writing calendar to take an inventory of your professional network.  Determine which contacts can help share your message and which contacts can help make new business introductions for your new written content.

2.  Just Do It –  No more excuses…”I don’t know what to write” or “I don’t have the time”.  Selecting from my pain points lists and talking to my online marketing strategist, I picked a topic for writing a post. I sat down one morning, and wrote whatever came to mind on the topic…misspellings, fragmented thoughts, run on sentences, it didn’t matter. The point was…Just Do It!  For me, I made a commitment to my online marketing strategies to write a new post every two weeks.  That time deadline keeps me from falling back into the complacency of previous excuses.

Coaching Point: Tell a close, trusted friend or contact about your writing goals and schedule.  Use and ENFORCE the buddy system to keep a time deadline and push yourself forward when self-doubt creeps in.  Perhaps consequences such as charitable donations of your money or time will help keep you accountable to….yourself!

 3.  Hire A Writer to Help Polish & EditI can’t stop stressing how helpful this was!!   It helped me to step away from the mindset of “it needs to be perfect”.   I’m lucky my husband is a writer who gets my style of writing and what I do <I try my best, honey!- CY>, but I also asked for feedback from my creative manager and my online marketing strategist.  If you don’t have someone to edit, I strongly encourage you find and build a relationship with someone. You can find inexpensive writers/editors on crowdsourcing sites such as freelancer.com, odesk.com, or elance.com.  Make sure they have great reviews, see writing samples, and have worked with other US clients.  Most importantly, try to find someone that gets your writing style.

Coaching Point:  Sometimes the best editors of your work are current clients.  Ask a client to participate in a review session and encourage them to provide critical feedback.  Who knows, maybe the ideas in your content will spark a request that leads to new business!

So, What’s Next?

Hey, that wasn’t as hard as I thought! Guess what?  I can write and so can YOU!  Read my first post “5 Things Executives Need To Do To Protect Their Personal Brands”.

If you want to be seen as an authority in your industry or as a market influencer and are struggling with how to position yourself, be willing to reach out and ask people for assistance.   I’m here to help, so if you have any concerns and you are serious about taking your personal brand to the next level, send me an email to schedule a complimentary half-hour consultation.

5 Things Executives Need to Do Right Now to Protect Their Personal Brands

Everyday as an executive, whether in person or online, you are exposed to people who want to see others fail or desire their 15 minutes of fame at the expense of others.  You know these people, they include the nay-sayer, the disgruntled employee, the unhappy customer, the media obsessed, a jealous co-worker, or even a former employer. With the rise of social media, your reputation can be ruined in a matter of seconds with one posting or tweet. You have to work years to build your personal brand and reputation, and they both need to be protected like precious objects.  Here are some tips to protect your personal brand from people who might want to try and damage your reputation:

1)    Own Your Name –  It is important to own “Your Name” domain.  This prevents people from trying to hijack it, or from Internet “trolls” who buy up names to force you to pay a premium for the domain name.  For very common names, such as Smith, or when someone else owns your name already, it can be a challenge, but try to find something as close to your name as possible.  You should, at least, own your name for .com, .org, .biz, and .me domains.  Also, if you have written a book, you should own this domain as well.

2)    Have a Great Profile Picture –  A picture says a thousand words.  What does your profile picture say about you?  You should have a professional headshot taken for your profile picture at least every 2-3 years and use the same profile picture for all your social accounts. No matter how people connect to you, whether it be Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, they should be able to recognize you instantly online or in person.  People connect to other people on an emotional and personal level, so smile, let them see your eyes, and exude that confidence and positive attitude.  You always want to put your best foot forward for that first impression, and your profile is often the first way people are introduced in today’s digital age.

3)    Monitor Your Reputation Online – It’s important to see what people are saying about you online.  A simple way to do this is by setting up a Google Alert on your name.  If you are C-Level or the CEO, you may want to hire a company that specializes in reputation management.  This way, you can see what’s being said about you, and take the appropriate action if someone or a group starts attacking your reputation.  If someone is putting damaging information out on the Internet about you, seek legal advice immediately, DO NOT WAIT.  I’ve worked with senior executives who have suffered traumatic career setbacks because of false allegations being put out in the press and online.  It’s personally, professionally, emotionally, and financially devastating.  One client of mine received an offer letter to be a CEO division head, only to have it rescinded the same day when a board member Googled his name and found some of the crazy false allegations.

4)    Keep Your Personal and Professional Social Networks Separate – OK…admit it…. we all have family and friends that are constantly posting crazy stuff on their Facebook about relationships, political views, or pictures and updates about their kids every two minutes.   Your professional network does not need to see this.  If you are interviewing, you should be aware employers now look for new ways to gather intelligence to verify what you are telling them is the truth.  They Google and search online to verify your professional and education background, who is in your social network, as well as looking for ways to uncover other references.  Unless it’s a condition of employment, you do not have to grant access to an employer if they ask to be added to your network.

 5)    Watch What You Say  – Just remember every post, tweet, reply, and comment you put out there will live forever on the universe of the Internet.  If you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face or defend your position publicly on TV or in the press, don’t say it at all. Its fine to share your expertise, knowledge, offer your opinion, or be provocative.  But it’s not cool airing your dirty laundry about a customer, colleague, boss, or your employer on the Internet. I’ve known people who have been fired for completely avoidable situations such as these, and it can damage your future employment opportunities.

Based on what you read above if you have any concerns or are serious about taking your personal brand to the next level, contact Cre8iv Branding at +1 646.535.9450 or email to schedule a complimentary half-hour consultation.