How to position yourself as an expert

Written on the 23 July 2008 by Altitude Communications

An important part of becoming recognised as an industry leader among your customers, peers, the media and the general public and growing your profile, is by arranging to speak regularly on your topic of expertise at relevant industry and business events/seminars. The fact that you appear as an expert to give advice to others reinforces the fact that you are someone who is knowledge and has valuable information that others can learn from.

The big question is how to go about arranging speaking opportunities for yourself. The bad news is that it does take considerable time and effort to get yourself on the speaking program of worthwhile events/seminars, and unfortunately, if you are not yet on the circuit, it is difficult to prove that you are a sought after and experienced speaker. The very first thing you need to do is identify what sort of events/seminars you wish to present at. It is a good idea if you have something worthwhile to contribute to the program/theme in terms of your experience and knowledge base.

A beauty therapist, for example, would have to think long and hard about an angle of interest for a real estate conference.  You also need to determine what your main objective is for public speaking, as this will determine the types of events you approach. For example, if you are using speaking at functions as a means of promoting your business/products/services by building your profile and getting your brand “out there”, then aim for events that your ideal customers are likely to attend.  If, however, you are hoping to eventually make a living (and maybe even a fortune) from speaking engagements, then you will need to look at high profile conferences and seminars that pay their speakers well.

Do your research about events and functions that are being held in the near future. Remember that large conferences book their speakers approximately 10 months in advance, so there is a long lead up time. Contact the organisers and show them an already prepared portfolio/resume of your work and experience in the field. Include some good client testimonials if you can. Give them an idea about what sort of topics you can speak on, but be flexible to their suggestions and requirements too. Be persistent and approach as many as you can, just to get the ball rolling.  Once you have spoken at one or two, you can then call yourself an “experienced” speaker.

Another idea to get your name out there, and to save yourself a lot of leg work, is to register with public speaking bureaus, such as ICMI Speakers and Entertainers, that actively promote hundreds of speakers for conferences, business events and other engagements. These bureaus are effectively destination sites for anyone who is looking for just the right speaker for their event - from industry trade shows to company events to conferences. There are even bureaus serving different niches: motivational speakers, business executives, subject experts and those working in specific geographic regions. 

Most bureaus don't charge speakers a fee, but take a commission for the work they arrange. However, getting accepted at a reputable bureau is not easy either, unless you have already built quite an attractive public profile for yourself.

If you are new to the scene and keen to get some experience, you may need to offer to speak for free at some local community functions just to get started.

If you are serious about getting bookings for speaking engagements, it is a good idea to build up your resources, via a personal website that may contain footage of a previous speaking engagement, as well as a list of venues you have spoken at, testimonials and topics you are able to speak about due to your experience and knowledge.

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Hire a publicist to promote you and your speaking engagements and get your name out there to the news media. While the primary purpose of a publicity agent is not to actively find and book speaking opportunities, rather to promote the work that their clients perform, you may have luck finding a publicist who will agree to a nominal fee, as well as a cut of the money you earn through engagements they help arrange. Click here to learn more about the Altitude PR and FREE Media Services available.

Consider joining a professional speakers association for support, tips, workshops and networking opportunities.

Copyright Altitude Communications 2008. All Rights Reserved.

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