This content was originally published on Sprouter.
The strategy behind startup marketing can be boiled to one question: how can I get the most amount of eyeballs on my company for the least amount of money? One way you can reach people in your target demographic is by attending industry events. Whether casual networking get-togethers or big conferences, events are a great way to meet people, get feedback on your idea and find new users. But when it comes to events, it’s better to be the person on stage talking than the person listening in the audience. If your goal is for as many people as possible to walk away from the event knowing who you are, being a featured speaker is the best way to achieve it.
Maybe you’re just starting your company, and you’ve never spoken in front of a group about your industry. Or maybe you’re already an expert in your field with years of experience under your belt and a stack of articles you’ve written to prove it. Regardless of where you are in your career, attending events is always beneficial. It provides an opportunity to network, and allows you to learn from your industry’s biggest names. But if you’re looking to take it to the next level and go from event attendee to guest speaker here are a few tips.
Craft a speaking proposal. Put together a one-page outline with your biography, your areas of expertise, links to any of your content around the web, and referrals from any past speaking engagements. The more a conference organizer knows about you and your accomplishments the more likely they are to feature you in their lineup.
Do your research. Find out what kind of events are taking place in your area, and if they accept speaking submissions. You can often find this information on the conference’s website, but you can also try contacting them via email or on Twitter. Great resources for finding local startup events include Plancast and Meetup.
Come up with compelling topics. Don’t send in your speaking proposal without any session ideas – check out the event schedule and propose something unique that isn’t already on the list. You should also spend time crafting one presentation that you can tweak for different events. Maybe your topic is about building your brand online, or the lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur thus far. Spend time creating a well-designed Powerpoint or Prezi presentation full of compelling images and statistics to support your point. It makes it a lot easier when you do get accepted to speak somewhere – just update your presentation to reflect the audience and you’re set to go.
Market yourself. Event organizers aren’t going to find you. You need to promote the fact that you’re available for speaking engagements – add a “hire me to speak” page on your blog, sign up for a profile on Speakergramand add the badge to your website, and apply to be accepted to different speaking bureaus in your area. The more places event organizers can find you the better.
Look for events that crowdsource presentations. Events like Podcamp allow you to sign up for presentations – it’s a great way to get experience without having to apply. Take advantage of these events to try out different topics and see what resonates the most with the audience. Check the Twitter stream after the event to see if your presentation was well-received, and adjust as necessary.
Hold your own events. If you’re not accepted to someone else’s event then why not hold your own? Maybe you can hold a small workshop at a local library, or a seminar at a coworking space.
Don’t stop being an attendee. While I occasionally speak at events, I attend way more. Just because you speak at one event doesn’t mean you don’t have something to learn at another, and networking off-stage is still valuable for making connections and talking to potential users.
Hopefully this helps you take advantage of speaking opportunities in your area, and helps you build a bigger audience for your brand. Have any other ideas for how to get speaking gigs? Leave them in the comments so we can update the post to reflect them.