One of the best ways to build a reputation for your business and attract more clients is to build a reputation for yourself as the leader of your organization. Generating that charisma and personal recognition, especially within local circles, can make your organization seem more powerful, introduce you to more prospective clients and partners, and eventually win you more business and room for expansion.
But how can you become a local influencer in your own right? One of the most common paths is through recurring, guest speaking gigs
, which allow you to showcase your expertise and meet new people on a regular basis—and the path to becoming a guest speaker is faster than you might think.
The Benefits of Guest Speaking
Let us start by defining the main benefits of guest speaking. Why is this such a powerful tool for becoming a local influencer?
First, you will gain exposure. Every person who sees you speak will become more familiar with you and your brand. On top of that, at every event, you will have the chance to meet dozens of people who could one day be clients, partners, or employees.
Your first few events may be low-key events, but if you can land even a major keynote role or two, you can use them as credentials for any future endeavors you seek. For example, you could list your speaking history on a book jacket or as part of your running bio.
There are many benefits to being able to speak intelligently and articulately in public. Being a public speaker gives you that experience, which you can then use in meetings, pitches, and other important business opportunities.
How to Get There
So, how can we get to that point? These seven steps should help you get everything you need to start building your reputation.
1. Start a Personal Brand Online
The first and potentially most important step is to develop your brand online
. Make sure you have a specific realm of professional expertise and a target audience. Then, flesh out your social media profiles, and start interacting with groups relevant to those targets. Having a strong online presence will help you land better gigs.
2. Develop a Strong Content Base
While you are at it, make sure you develop strong written content on a personal blog. When event organizers do background research to determine the strengths and weaknesses of prospective presenters, they want to know their potential for captivating an audience, and your content can do just that. Write content your audience would love to read and syndicate it regularly.
Next, you need to network both online and in person. Grow your social media following as much as possible, and see if you can forge a connection with some entrepreneurs and event organizers who might have the ability to land you a speaking gig in the future. The bigger your network is, the more attractive of a guest speaker you will be.
4. Find & Talk to Existing Influencers
Look for people who have been guest speakers in the past, and talk to them. These are people who have been through the process. They know the biggest speaking events in the area and the best ones to start out with. They will be able to provide you with guidance and maybe even get you in contact with organizers.
5. Land Your First Gig
One of your biggest hurdles will be landing your first speaking gig
. Try to find a low-key, local event, and talk to the organizer about a presentation you think their audience would find valuable. If you can prove that you know what you are talking about and that their audience will appreciate it, you will likely be able to land the spot.
6. Promote Yourself
Leading up to your first gig and for every speaking gig you have after it, spend some time promoting yourself. Volunteer to print up flyers for the event
, tell all the personal and professional contacts you know about the event and do not be afraid to broadcast your presence on social media. The bigger audience you are able to attract, the more value you will get out of the event and the more valuable a speaker you will seem to future event organizers.
7. Follow Up With Each Opportunity
Whenever you get done speaking, spend some time talking to audience members, answering questions, learning names, and expanding your network. You will build a more loyal audience, attract a bigger following, and prove yourself to be an even more valuable speaker to have on the ticket.
Like any marketing or promotional strategy, it takes time and patience to develop your status and reputation as a guest speaker
. The more effort you put into your presentations, the better you read your audience, and the more you network at each event, the faster your reputation will grow. By your third or fourth gig, you will fall into a bit of a routine, and your influence in the local community will reach an important baseline.
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com, and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.