A public speaking career can be a lucrative and rewarding way to make a living. But if you’re still trying to book your first gig, you might feel as if you’re never going to be able to launch your career.
Finding your first speaking engagement can certainly be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Today I’m going to share four tips to help you find that first gig. These are things I learned through trial and error when I was starting out as a speaker, and they can help you land your first speaking engagement and pave the way to the rest of your career.
1) Determine Your Area of Expertise
Before you start looking for that first speaking engagement, sit down, and define what you bring to the table. All of us have a different skillset; we have different interests and life experiences. You’re going to bring a perspective that’s unique from everyone else, and you need to draw on your strengths as you approach public speaking. When I first started my speaking career, I had a lot of sales experience. So I started off by speaking about sales techniques, which allowed me to capitalize on my experience in the industry.
Thinking about where you have experience and where your strengths lie can help you find the right type of gig. Once you’ve defined your area of expertise, ask yourself: What kind of audience would benefit from this information, and where are they? The answers to those questions will reveal the types of people and organizations you should target as you look for gigs.
Knowing your areas of expertise can also help you pitch yourself. At this stage, you don’t have much speaking experience — and that’s okay! So instead of presenting yourself as a speaker, try pitching yourself as an expert in your field. Framing yourself as an expert can help people take you more seriously. It can also boost your confidence because it’s completely true.
2) Create an Online Personal Brand
As soon as people receive your pitch, they’re going to open their computer and check you out online. They’re looking to see what kind of online presence you have, so it’s important that you have a good one. Make sure you have a nice website that’s professionally designed and clearly explains what you do. You’ll also want to be active on multiple social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
If you really want to prove the value you have to bring, start creating content. Educational blog posts or videos are a great way to show that you know what you’re talking about. Producing high-quality content for the web can sway people into deciding to work with you — those blog posts and videos serve as tangible proof that you’re the real deal.
3) Utilize Your Network and Local Venues
As you’re looking for your first speaking engagement, don’t be afraid to be open about your search. Ask your network of coworkers and friends if they’re aware of any opportunities. You never know who has connections, and in most cases, people are more than happy to share with you.
It can also be helpful to start small and slowly gain credibility. If you’re selling books, you might try a local bookstore, library, or an event at a coffee shop. If you’re building your coaching career, try to find local meetups or conferences in your area.
You won’t be able to jump into nationwide events right away, but if you start building now with small local venues, you’ll be able to speak at larger and larger events over time.
4) Have Realistic Expectations
You might have to reach out to multiple places regarding a speaking engagement before you get a yes. And that’s okay! Don’t lose your motivation. Have perseverance and keep pursuing speaking gigs, contacting anyone who seems like a good fit. Make sure to be consistent and follow up with your leads if your initial message doesn’t get an answer.
It’s also important to keep in mind that your first speaking engagement might not be a paying engagement. And that’s okay, too. You may have to speak for free several times before you land a paid gig. Remember, doing small, unpaid engagements is okay for now because these small engagements will lead to more opportunities down the road.
You’re building the blocks of your speaking career, and once you nail down your first speaking gig, things will get easier and easier from then on.
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian’s goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.