How do you identify events or speaking gigs that are good for your brand (vs. a waste of time/money)? What factors should you consider?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
Look at who the event is advertising itself to. Are these your customers, colleagues or thought leaders? The people to whom the event is marketed are going to make up the core of your audience. If they do not fit the bill of people you would market yourself to, you should ask where the benefit lies in spending your time and effort in attending or presenting.
When it comes to branding, who you surround yourself with — especially on a stage — says more than you could about your expertise and skill. Look for events and opportunities to present with top leaders in the industry, thought leaders and up-and-comers. It may be tempting to be the most notable panelist or speaker, but consider the company you keep and if it supports your brand message.
For any event that you are considering presenting at, first check out the audience. If there won’t be people in attendance who are potential clients — or people who can influence potential clients — then it’s not worth your time. Speaking engagements are about extending your brand and leads for your business. The right audience is key to achieving these goals.
Try to build your network as much as possible, and only go after speaking gigs where your target audience will be in attendance. Get to know some event coordinators in your area and your industry, and start to develop relationships. Avoid last-minute speaking engagements as the organizer may just be desperate to get anyone to speak at his event.
Just talking at an audience is rarely enough to connect with people — they may not even remember your name afterwards, even if you gave a great talk. So, looking for events where you can increase your interaction with your audience is crucial. Whether you can do a workshop with a smaller number of attendees or go to networking events, it’s worth looking at all the opportunities.
I rarely speak for a fee. Instead, I look at all of the possible benefits. Think about the following: Could potential clients be listening? Could potential employees be listening? Is there press listening? Identify all of the different audiences, and then decide if it’s worth your time.
I look at the lineup of speakers to see if they will be sharing fresh content that I can’t get anywhere else. I also look at who will be attending the event for possible connections in business. Finally, I look at my calendar to make sure those events don’t interfere with my family schedule, which is more important to me than business.
I go to events that are directly related to our business and those in which I have a speaking role. Otherwise, I’d rather be in my office working with my team on solving real problems.
When approached with speaking opportunities, I always select the one that scares me the most. While most people would say that you should select events that will highlight what you are really good at, I would disagree. Speaking opportunities are a great way to challenge your expertise and experiment with new ways of framing what you are doing.
10. Use All Parts of the Buffalo
If you are a serial speaker, there are many things that help decide whether or not a potential speaking gig is worth the time. Whether or not a gig is paid, you should determine what aspects of the engagement might be worth something to you beyond money. Is there a great brand you will be associated with, an excellent venue where a demo video could be filmed or a high potential for spin-off gigs?