Public speaking is underrated. It's one of the most effective ways to network with individuals in your industry, to brand yourself as an authority in your niche, to attain new clients and more (not to mention, you usually get to travel to awesome places for free).
Typically, there's a misconception about public speaking though. The misconception is that you need to be a New York Times bestselling author or have sold a multimillion-dollar company to land a speaking gig. While that certainly helps, it just isn't true. Plain and simple.
In fact, with just a little bit of clout, a simple yet effective strategy, and persistence, you'll be able to land your first paid speaking gig sooner than you'd ever imagine. I'll show you how here.
1. Create content on free platforms.
This content could be on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Medium, or somewhere else. But first, if you haven't done so already, take a day and plan out who you want to be online. What is your brand going to be? What is your specialty, your niche, going to be?
Once you establish that, create content that solidifies your online identity, content that reinforces your brand.
Don't worry about the numbers (shares, likes, etc.). Instead, worry about your consistency and the quality of the content you're putting out. Worry about how you can add valuable points to the conversations already happening in your industry.
Lastly, don't ever think you have nothing to say. No matter what your credentials are, you always have your perspective to add to the conversation.
2. Be the person who reaches out first.
Be proactive in your outreach to conferences, meetups, and other events. This simple, yet completely underutilized principle comes from my fellow Inc.com columnist Neil Patel, and it's a true game-changer.
A common misconception is every speaker at a conference was hand-selected by the coordinator or moderator to give a presentation there. While this may be the case for keynote speakers, it's not true for all.
Use this to your advantage. After at least three months of consistently creating content on free platforms (to prove you're serious about it all), be the person who reaches out first when it comes to speaking engagements. Don't wait for a conference coordinator to come to you.
Pro Tip: Be sure that you're the one reaching out for yourself, not your assistant on your behalf. This will show moderators you're hungry to speak at their event.
3. Create your 'elevator pitch email'
Create an email explaining why you'd be a good fit for the conferences, meetups, or other gigs you're applying to. Don't brag about your credentials too much. Focus on nothing except the value you'd be able to provide to the audience with your topic. That's what matters most.
Important Note: Don't be a robot. Be sure to personalize portions of your email for each conference or event you're applying to. That being said, the part that can always be a template is the elevator pitch for your presentation.
4. Compile a list of conferences and meet-ups in your niche.
Now time for the nitty-gritty. Search for, and compile, a list of conferences and meetups in your industry. The list can be as large or small as you'd want, but bigger is always better. When starting out, I recommend compiling at least 30.
Then, put them into an Excel Sheet or Google Sheet. Include the email address of the moderator or person in charge of selecting speakers.
5. Send it out.
Then, one by one, send out your elevator pitch email.
It truly is a numbers game here, especially if you're just getting started as an entrepreneur. The more time you put into outreach, the more likely you are to land a spot.
Don't get discouraged if it takes a while to land your first gig. Every three to six months, repeat this process while still creating content. There will be new conferences and opportunities for you to capitalize on, and it'll only get easier as you establish your online identity further with the content you're creating.
Bonus tip: Capture your audience's reaction.
Once you do land a speaking engagement, be sure to take full advantage of it. Capture photos of you giving the presentation. Ask your audience for a quick testimonial on what they enjoyed about your talk.
You'll be able to use that material as leverage to get more speaking gigs and bigger paychecks. Additionally, you can use it if for social proofing by sharing the photos to your social media.