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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guest Speaking Gigs, Are You Missing an Opportunity?

By The PEiR Group

Not long ago we had occasion to attend an evening seminar hosted by our local chamber of commerce. The speaker for the evening was billed as an “expert in his field” and as a “widely respected speaker.”

The upshot? He was awful, but we couldn’t help but notice how he commanded the attention of a rather large crowd who apparently believed in his accolades enough to seek him out afterwards, exchanging business cards and pleasantries.

What, I thought, could a real speaker do with such an audience? While many of our members have accepted an invitation to speak before friendly, hometown crowds – we couldn't help but think that an opportunity may exist for trained speakers to spread the word about their shop to non-AEC audiences.

Getting the right people in the room is often the problem, as anyone who has tried to do it knows. But local groups are constantly seeking speakers for their programs, and many – from church groups to local chamber of commerce luncheons – include audience members with impressive résumés who are there to be impressed themselves.

There are many stories of long-term business relationships being forged after chance encounters at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

As one of our members puts it: "I don't have as much time to commit to public speaking as I used to, but I believe those early engagements were a big part of how I grew my business in its early years.”

What if you're just getting started or looking for a fresh approach? Companies all over your town are looking for speakers, especially during tough economic times when their budgets – and speaker availability – is low.
Potential topics include your shop's use of technology; your “Green Program;” or how the use of technology can make business more efficient – and profitable. Keep your talk broad and do not preach about your business or its core competencies. Be professional, but friendly and approachable.

Ask your host if you can leave a few business cards behind. You’d be surprised how often someone has given a talk and gotten a call from someone two, three… five weeks later. Very often they say: "you may not remember me, but you talked to our group about remote printing. My company has this project we think you can help us with…”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It has worked a couple of times for us. we had one of our people speak at a local chamber of commerce lunch and it led to several leads, and two jobs. We do it from time to time now, depending on the availability of our people and still get good results even in a bad economy.