Public Speaking: How to Land Speaker Invites in Your Inbox
Whether you’re just starting out as a public speaker or have some experience under your belt, all public speakers face the same question: where do I find my next speaking gig?
Here’s the question you should be asking: how do I get event organizers to start finding me?
I’ve been speaking to groups since 2008 – having done over 60 keynotes and more than 40 panels discussions – and yes, I am a paid public speaker. I would conservatively estimate 90% of my speaking gigs come from people who reach out to me first.
How do you get people to come to you about speaking engagements?
You might have guessed that my speaking gigs largely come from referrals – but you’d be wrong. Although I do get some of my speaking engagements from referrals, the vast majority of my gigs come through people who find me on social media.
People invite you to speak because you’re an expert, and that’s going to take more than simply sending them an email where you proclaim yourself an expert. You need to develop a well-honed online presence that positions you as an expert, and it’s something that can be achieved by anyone willing to put in the work.
First off, you must have a personal website. Try snagging a URL with your name in it – like www.KristiDosh.com – or a variation that adds “speaks” after your name if the primary purpose of your site is to showcase yourself as a public speaker.
Some people choose instead to go with a URL that has their topic in the name, but that can hamstring you in the future should you decide to branch out to other topics. For example, I’m an expert on the business of college sports, so I frequently speak on that topic. However, I’m also an expert on helping people establish themselves as experts, so I speak on that as well.
There are a few must-haves for your website:
- Speaking video (a compilation of clips from past gigs)
- List of topics you cover
- Testimonials from event organizers and attendees
- Links to social media accounts
- Contact information
Beyond that, if you can commit to blogging on your topic, blogs can further establish you as an expert on your topics and provide important SEO value that allows your site to be more easily discovered through search engines.
Of the 90% of my speaking gigs I get through social media, probably 40% of those come from LinkedIn. That’s because it’s focus is on professionals, meaning many event organizers and event committee members are on LinkedIn. In addition, your profile on LinkedIn will quite often rank higher in search engines than your personal website – at least until your website has been established and consistently updated for awhile.
Whether event organizers search for speakers on a search engine or within LinkedIn, the same best practices apply in order to optimize your profile and increase your odds of appearing in a search.
- Have the words “public speaker” in your headline. LinkedIn automatically pulls in your current job title for your headline, but you can override that and write your own description.
- Get keywords associated with your topic in your headline. For example, I have “sports business” in my headline since that’s a frequent topic for me.
- Use the Summary section to set yourself up as an expert in your field.
- Create a separate position under your work history for “Public Speaker” and use the space allowed for a description to list your topics. You might also want to include information on the types of audiences you speak to, the typical size of those audiences, and any accolades you’ve earned as a public speaker.
- Ask organizers of past events to provide you a recommendation on LinkedIn so people will see testimonials right on your profile.
- Include your speaking video on your profile.
- If you blog, use LinkedIn publisher to post original or republished blogs on your topic.
The other 60% of my speaking gigs that come to me because of social media are from Twitter. I will add the caveat that Twitter probably over-indexes for me because of my sports focus. However, I still think there’s incredible value to having an active Twitter profile. Search engines index tweets, so even if someone is searching on Google, they could still easily come across your tweet.
There are three keys to using Twitter effectively as a public speaker:
- Consistency: Unfortunately, using Twitter effectively can be quite the time commitment. You really need to be using Twitter on a regular basis. For example, I average over six tweets a day on the account that lands me speaking gigs.
- Hashtags: Using hashtags relevant to your topic and any specific industries you serve can greatly increase your odds of being discovered. Not sure which hashtags to use? Check out tweets from influencers in your space and see what hashtags they’re using. You can also use sites like Hashtagify.me to identify hashtags.
- Twitter chats: If there are Twitter chats in your industry, those can be a great way to establish yourself as an expert and virtually “meet” people who are in positions to bring in public speakers. If you don’t know what a Twitter chat is, start here. Need to find Twitter chats in your space? Check out this resource.
Establish your foundation through your website, LinkedIn and Twitter, and then simply start putting yourself out there more often. Blog, podcast, engage in Twitter chats, join a LinkedIn group – because it doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do if no one knows you do it.