Creating a smart prospecting strategy is very much like assembling a solid, diversified investment portfolio.
And just like the world of investments has countless options, there are many prospecting and self-promotional tactics available to today’s freelance writer.
Too many, in fact!
But one tactic that we don’t talk about enough is public speaking. And more specifically, delivering talks to groups and organizations.
In this show, I interview someone who’s landed a great deal of freelance work with this idea: my colleague Steve Slaunwhite.
Steve shares what he likes best about this particular type of self-promotion, whom this strategy is best-suited for, the steps to take to make this work, and how you can get started today.
The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
Tell us about yourself?
Steve’s first presentation was at a marketing event many years ago. At the end of his presentation, he literally had potential clients lining up to talk to him. From then on, he decided that presentations are a great way to get new business.
Why do you think this method works so well?
Clients want to know, like and trust you before they hire you. When you speak to an audience, you get this almost immediately.
What do you like about this method of self-promotion?
Writers tend to be a little shy and/or introverted. Most of us don’t like schmoozing or working a room. But with practice and some techniques, anyone can do a presentation.
Speakers attract people. So if you’ve spoken to a room, people will approach you afterwards. You don’t have to go to them. It’s an introvert’s dream.
While shy/introverted people can be great speakers, you don’t have to be a great speaker for this technique to work.
What have been some of the biggest benefits to you and your business?
Lead generation. People in the audience become interested in working with you because they’ve seen you on stage. If you deliver your content well, they see you as an expert.
You don’t have to be an extrovert to have “likability.” “Likability” is about being transparent and being yourself. You don’t have to have a certain type of personality. Just be you.
Whom is this strategy best suited for?
Everyone should try it. See if it works. Being on stage may not be as scary as you think.
Public speaking is a great skill to have. It’s portable and versatile.
How should we start to apply this strategy?
Start small. Look for associations and business events in your area. They’re always looking for speakers on topics of interest to their audience.
Look for panel sessions at conferences, events and workshops that are coming to your area and would attract your prospects. When you participate in a panel, you only have to speak for a few minutes and then answer questions. It’s a great way to dip your toe into speaking.
When you first start public speaking, it’s okay to present to groups that won’t include your prospects. It’s great practice, you never know who could hire or refer you and it’s okay to mess up.
How do you handle associations and organizations that won’t accept speakers who are “vendors”?
When Steve approaches event organizers, he never positions himself as a copywriter. He describes himself as “copywriting expert” and outlines the topic of his presentation. He explains why the topic is of high interest to the audience and why he should be the one to present it.
What process do you use to land speaking engagements?
- Find out who the contact is. Look for “event planner,” “program director” or “education director” on the organization or conference website.
- Send an introductory email.
- Follow up two business days later with a phone call.
Large conferences often have more formal systems for selecting speakers.
Other techniques to get speaking engagements:
- Contact panel moderators and volunteer to fill in if a panelist can’t make it. Often the moderator will invite you to join the panel.
- Present yourself as a backup speaker.
- Buy your way in. Sometimes sponsorship packages will include a speaking session.
What are your thoughts on “stock” versus custom presentations?
Create two presentations: one primary and one secondary. Make sure both topics position you the way you want.
Leverage content you already have. Consider articles and blog posts you’ve written that have been popular and generated feedback.
Do event planners care if you’ve presented the topic before?
No. Many times, Steve is invited back to speak on the same topic. You want to be associated with your topic and your area of expertise.
What can we do to develop our public speaking skills?
Sometimes it’s okay just to jump in at a small event.
Toastmasters is a great place to improve your skills and get more practice. If you live in a larger urban area, you may have multiple Toastmaster chapters to choose from. Try them out and then join the one you like the most.
Most importantly, be yourself. Remember, you know more on your topic than the audience. Even marketing managers and directors won’t know as much about copywriting as you because their knowledge is broad but not as deep.
When you describe what you do to the audience, keep it clear, short and simple. You want the audience to remember it. If you confuse them by adding too many details, they won’t remember.
Where can listeners learn more about you?
Steve Slaunwhite’s copywriting training center is http://copywritingtrainingcenter.com
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Till next time,