Networking is essential to any business, and it can be especially helpful for professional speakers. When you join a speakers' association, you open yourself up to a wealth of potential speaking opportunities. Here are 10 successful tips for networking through speakers' associations.
1 - Be active in the group
It may seem obvious, but it needs to be stated: get involved and attend regularly. It's not enough to just be a member of the association; you need to participate frequently, be seen, and become well-known in the group.
When you make the decision to invest the time and money to join a speaker's association, it's important to get to know the other members and the decision makers. Make sure you attend group networking events, get involved in discussions, and are generally visible within the community.
If you're not able to attend in person, be sure to connect with members online. Reach out, introduce yourself, and find out whatever you can about the other members. The more involved you are, the more likely you are to make valuable connections, which will help you build your business.
2 - Develop authentic friendships
As with anything in life, it's important to build genuine relationships with people. Develop real-life friendships with other speakers with whom you have a lot in common. These are the relationships that will be most beneficial and last the longest.
If you can find ways to help other members achieve their goals, even better. These connections will be invaluable as you grow your business.
3 - Become "the connector"
When you meet someone new, get to know them and their business. Have conversations, exchange business information and industry tips, and follow up after meeting someone. Find out what is important to them. Ask them what they need right now.
Armed with this information, you can then introduce them to other people you think would be great connections for them. Become known as "the connector" in your group so you can build relationships and become the go-to authority for all sorts of reasons. When you help someone else, they'll be more likely to want to help you in return, if not right away, then somewhere down the road.
4 - Be a resource for other speakers
Share your knowledge and expertise generously, and always be willing to help other members. If you see someone who's struggling with something, offer your advice or assistance.
Speak at events, write articles, and lead discussions. Provide advice on topics you're passionate about. Share what you know about keynote speaker tips and some of the best keynote speaking topics. Be willing to help other members with their business goals by helping them find appropriate speaking engagements that are a good fit for their skills and interests.
“Be a resource” can also refer to tangible resources. Perhaps you can provide discounts on products or services that you offer, or help members find the products or services they need elsewhere.
Over time, people will remember how you helped them. They'll be more likely to want to work with you, partner with you, send you great clients, and return the favor in other ways in the future.
5 - Become a leader
You can increase your visibility by becoming a respected leader in the group. Consider being an organization officer (president, treasurer, etc.), which will give you the opportunity to meet more people, speak in front of the group, and be more involved in the community.
If you don't want the commitment of an officer role, you can still be seen as a leader by hosting events, participating in panels, leading discussions, writing articles for the association's website or blog, or organizing committees.
6 - Offer mentoring opportunities
If you're not interested in a formal leadership role, consider becoming a mentor to other members. As a mentor, you'll have the opportunity to share your knowledge and experience, while also getting to know other members on a deeper level. This is a great way to give back to the community, be seen as an industry leader, and help others grow their businesses.
Mentoring a couple of people who are clearly up-and-comers is also a great way to build long-lasting relationships with other speakers. When you mentor someone in public speaking and business growth, they often become loyal to you and want to help you in return by promoting you and giving you referrals in the future.
You’ll discover that when past mentees, their clients, or other association members need someone with your specific skills, you’ll be the first person they think of when they have a speaking gig to share.
|Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only professional organization where speakers, authors and experts who have a compelling message to share with the world, exchange insights and make strategic connections. Click here to see if you qualify for membership|
7 - Stay on top of mercurial world and business trends
The world keeps changing, and these changes affect everyone's businesses and livelihoods. These changes can be far-reaching - like the pandemic and shifting global politics - or local, like budgetary restraints in your community. It's important to understand how these circumstances and events affect the speaking industry. Connect to other speakers in the circuit so you know what's "working" currently, and what's not.
You'll also be able to get information about upcoming events and speaking offers that may be of interest to you. And you’ll be able to share your own interpretation of what’s trending and how it is likely to affect business owners and the speaking industry. It’s an effective way to stay visible within the group.
8 - Share your passions with people in the community
One of the best ways to find friends in the group and grow your network is to connect with people who have similar interests outside of speaking. When you find people who share your passions - everything from hiking to traveling to cooking to skiing - you are able to connect with them more closely. This can lead to enjoyable lasting friendships as well as profitable professional relationships.
When you attend events, join committees, or participate in online forums, follow up with the other members you meet that day. Get together for coffee - in person or virtual - and start to find out about each other. When you hit it off with another member, take the time to do non-speaking activities together once in a while. This is how to build strong relationships that last a lifetime.
9 - Share advice and best practices
Always be a learner. Even the world's best musicians work with a coach from time to time. Even the greatest writers work with editors. Within your speakers' association, connect with the cream of the crop and build a "best practices" group together.
Having access to their collective knowledge and experience is an invaluable resource for you. Meet regularly to get feedback on your work, whether it's a speech or an article you've written, and to share your feedback on their work. Make sure you take advantage of this incredible resource by participating in discussions, asking questions, and offering your own advice when you can.
Another benefit is that being in this little group marks you out as someone who is also the cream of the crop.
10 - Update your online presence
Don't forget that people search for you online so you need to update your website and all your social media profiles regularly.
Include where you have spoken recently, especially the biggest and most important gigs. If you've got a busy calendar, post where your upcoming gigs are going to be.
Include a few video snippets on your site and social platforms. Video testimonials are even better.
As you connect with other speakers in your associations, you'll see the number of visitors to your pages go up; be prepared by posting your best, most engaging content.
Networking is a long-term game. It's not about getting immediate results; it's about building authentic relationships that will pay off down the road.
These are just a few of the many ways joining a speakers' group can help you grow your speaking business. By taking advantage of the resources and opportunities available to you, you can build strong relationships that will help you succeed in your career.