I’m a Professional Speaker, But No One Seems to Notice
April 18, 2013 by Cara Poseycontent marketing strategy, professional speaker, speaker profile, speakers bureau
What’s the number of professional speakers in the world? Or the number of experts who are speakers? Thousands and thousands. If you consider that organizations are quickly adding speakers bureaus to position their subject matter experts for more speaking and media opportunities, then you’re looking at well over 100,000 potential speakers. And you’re competing with them. Don’t suddenly get scared, I’m competing with them too.
If this game were all about numbers, we wouldn’t be talking about the benefits of public speaking at all. But, in reality, most marketing and public relations professionals know that speaking and expert visibility programs (did you say speakers bureau?) can generate some of the highest returns when it comes to your marketing budget. The key is relevance. You’re relevant to an audience, therefore you get the gig. You meet someone at the event who has a need that you can fill. This person is suddenly a higher-quality lead; they are qualified and have a personal relationship with you when the enter the pipeline.
This is why speakers, and their agents or organizations, like well-matched events. That said, there are plenty of people that simply want to speak. Or perhaps their book or general ideology is broad enough in scope that many different audiences can find value, so any event is a “good event.” Many of these individuals are proud to announce themselves as professional speakers and expect their dancing cards to immediately be filled.
Why would no one notice that I’m a professional speaker? Why would I be passed over for opportunities? Why did no one respond to my email that I’d be willing to speak? If you’ve asked (or thought) one of these questions, let’s try to eliminate the obvious answers.
The first thing I do is look at the speaker profile. I can usually tell in 30 seconds or less what could be improved to make the speaker more competitive. Here’s some tips for improving speaker profiles and I promise they can help.
The second step is doing a search on the competition. Using Speakerfile’s find an expert, I search by topics that are areas of expertise for the speaker in question. This shows you how many people come up in an initial search and also shows you where you fit with the competition.
Next, I narrow the search down. What would an event organizer or reporter tend to look for if they had to narrow down a list of 300 to manageable group of 4? I look for profiles with video and then maybe profiles with either slides or publications. If this list is still over 15, it’s a competitive area!
Once I’ve identified the most competitive players, I look their profiles over from top to bottom and try to find what these experts have done really well. And then where do they have gaps. (No one else is going to be your twin…not even your actual twin…so I am confident that you will be able to identify things that you have that are different and valuable.)
Now, after I’ve done all this, how can I identify myself in a way that sets me apart from all these other people? How can I be specific about my value in such a way that will make sense for event organizers or a reporter? (Remember, these people are bringing experts together, but may not know the nuts and bolts of an area like you do. Jargon can actually hurt you here.)
When you identify the right words to describe yourself, your knowledge, your talents, etc. you will be more discoverable for people looking for experts just like you. Once you make the small group, it is up to your videos, your slides and other content to sell you. Just like in a job interview or on a first date, you cannot force someone to pick you as an expert. There has to be a “fit.” This fit benefits you, too, especially for those experts who are speaking in addition to their day job. When you have an opportunity that directly aligns with your skills and expertise, you are more likely to make those high quality connections that benefit both you and your organization.
But wait! I’ve done all this and people still aren’t responding to me! Let’s be real here, if you applied for American Idol, would you expect a thank you note if you weren’t accepted? Not every event organizer is going to reach out and tell you that you weren’t a good fit and explain way. You will also not get this consideration after every job interview or after every bad first date (and would you really want that feedback every time?) The best thing you can do is be authentic and think about each opportunity from the perspective of the audience. What would they want to see? What would the audience find value in? What insights could you provide to this audience that are different or special, compared with all of the competition? Be short and sweet and keep moving forward.
The best thing you can do on a day to day basis to improve your standing as a professional speaker is to hone your message and focus, get experience at local events, learn from feedback, and keep refining. Consider topics and trends that are important and what insight you have to provide that is relevant and timely. The more authority you build in your industry, the more people will come looking for you. And remember that, at the end of the day, speaking is just one element of a good content marketing strategy. It is one way to connect with your audience. Always assume that there are things that can be improved and relationships that can be strengthened.
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