In the beginning of 2017, I made two commitments to myself. The first was to create more systems and scalability in my business. I'm happy to say I've accomplished that.
The second was to start speaking more. As I review my business for 2017 and make plans for 2018 (because I don't wait until December), I'm realizing I was at one event after another this year. Not only that, but I was teaching at many of them. In fact, I've done more speaking engagements in the past 10 months than I have in the last four years - and I'm not done with 2017 yet.
To make things more interesting, I now have an agent and am already being asked about speaking opportunities for next year. I basically went from zero to sixty in about a year. That being said, I've also learned some lessons about the specific steps required to get your speaking career off the ground.
Step 1: Build a brand.
The first step in getting your speaking career off the ground is more like a pre-step. If you want to get gigs you must make a name for yourself.
In my case, I did it online by creating a boatload of content over the past seven years. This included social media content, my own blog, a podcast and content for marketing clients in which I have my own byline.
Step 2: Ask for help.
When you're in the process of building a brand, people will inevitably start reaching out to you for opportunities. If you're just starting out you likely have no idea what do with those opportunities or how to negotiate them.
This is where you need to ask for help. As soon as a big opportunity came my way, I tapped into my network for help. This is actually how I was connected to an agent who schooled me (in a loving way) on how much potential I really had.
Step 3: Get involved.
Before companies started approaching me, I was actually pitching my little heart out. I got involved with conferences in my industry, helped organize local events, showed up to help friends at their events, and volunteered to speak for years. For a time, if I had to pay out of my own pocket I would just to get the practice.
Of course, eventually, the objective is to get paid to speak. But, you have to wonder who is going to pay you if you've never actually done it before. It's like with any other career - experience gets you paid and that often looks like paying your dues.
Step 4: There are different ways to get paid. Pick which one you want.
When most people think of "speaking" they usually think of traditional speaking where you get hired by a company to speak. This is where my head has been most of this year.
However, at a recent speaking workshop I attended in the Miami area, I realized there's actually another way to get paid handsomely for speaking. Many business owners have begun to put on their own free or low-cost events in their local areas and then they upsell the participants on a high-ticket offering.
I saw someone do this from the stage a few weeks ago and, if my calculations are correct, they made about $20,000 in sales that day. That is a lot of revenue for just putting on a simple workshop.
As such, I would encourage business owners to determine what kind of a speaking career they want and then focus on the one. Depending on your business, one model may work better than the other.
Speaking is a great way to position yourself as an expert, market your business and earn more revenue. Whether you decide to go the traditional route or try some newer methods, I would definitely consider it as a part of your business strategy.