As a small business owner, one of your many responsibilities is to be the public face of your company. You are likely already the key customer relationship manager. But to grow your small business you need to be its champion and lead promoter as well. One effective way to do this is to attend and actively participate in conferences related to your industry. Another is to give educational talks to groups of potential customers.
The following tips and resources will help you find conferences and speaking opportunities relevant to your business and your expertise, and they also will help you land speaking engagements.
Listening before talking is always a good idea. So, before you start giving your own presentations it is a good idea to attend sessions given by other experts in your field. Not only will you pick up on the type of presentations that are currently popular, you will also be able to find gaps that you can fill with your own expertise. And, if you ask thought-provoking questions or provide unique insights during the Q&A period of these presentations, you may be remembered favorably if you later apply to speak at a related industry event. The following online directories can help you locate upcoming conferences in your industry as well as provide video, audio, or slide decks from past conferences.
- Lanyrd lets you search by date, year, or topic to find current, upcoming, and past conferences and presentations on a wide variety of business and technology topics.
- Conferensum provides conference proceedings, documentation and webinars from business, academic, and training events around the world. Search the database by date or subject to access information about upcoming events and webinars or materials from past events.
- Plancast is designed to help people find things to do, and it includes listings of social activities as well as lectures, parties, and business-related talks. You can search by location, date, and category.
When you feel ready to share your expertise and represent your business, it is time to start finding speaking engagements. You will need to approach groups looking for speakers and sell them on your talk. The first step is to create a “Speaker’s One-sheet.” This one-page introduction to you and your topic provides the jumping-off point for self-promotion as a speaker. This post provides a simple set of instructions for how to create one.
Then, start looking for organizations seeking speakers for specific events. An easy way to do this is to search Google for “call for speakers in [industry/topic area].” For example, to find opportunities for speaking about small business topics, search for, “call for speakers small business.” You can also set a Google Alert for that phrase so that new opportunities are automatically delivered to your inbox.
There are also paid services that match speakers with event hosts. For example, SpeakerMatch enables meeting planners and event organizers to search for speakers and reach out to them directly, or to post an open call for speakers. You pay a monthly fee to be included in the database and have access to open calls. Pricing starts at $9.99 per month, and they offer a free two-month trial. Even if you don’t sign up, search the database for good examples of speaker one-sheets.
You also can offer your services to groups that could benefit from your expertise. For example, if you sell quilting supplies you can offer to speak to a local quilting group. For more tips and resources, read 17 Ways to Find Speaking Opportunities.
Of course, to be a successful speaker you must provide value to your audience, which means truly sharing your expertise and not just promoting your business. The first presentation will be the toughest, but you will get better with time. You will also start getting audience reviews and testimonials that you can use to help promote yourself as a speaker. Soon you may find yourself regarded as a local, regional, or national expert and public face of both your industry and your company.
This Small Business Tip from PaySimple offers one more way to promote and fuel your business.