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9 Action Steps that Will Increase Your Bookings and Get the Attention of Bureaus
6. Study others in your field of expertise.
What are the trends that currently have the greatest impact on your industry? One of the world's leading trend firms, trendwatching.com and its 8,000+ trend spotters scan the globe for emerging consumer trends. They report on findings in free monthly trend briefings. Visit http://www.trendwatching.com.
What's happening in your industry? Are your current industry leaders increasing profits, initiating cutbacks, decreasing profits, creating dissension, inspiring courage or are they encouraging greed and corruption? Are there company-wide layoffs? What kinds of programs and presentations will be needed for those that survive the layoffs and downsizing?
Learn how you differ from other speakers in your field and be able to articulate it in a clear and concise manner. Get a mentor in your field and study his/her behavior and performance. Gain the advantage with clients and bureaus through your service, product or your style of delivery.
Visit the website of the National Speakers Association - http://www.nsaspeaker.org and click on "find a speaker." Now, click on "speaker area of expertise." How many names come up under your area of expertise? Study their websites. How are they positioning themselves? How are you different? How can you capitalize on the difference? What presentation topics do you offer that they do not? Look over their list of past clients and make note of the organizations that have hired them to speak. Generally speaking, the more bookings you've had, the more bureaus will be interested in working with you.
Identify bureaus who serve your industry. In some cases, you can identify their target market by the title of the bureau, such as Financial Forum, Inc. (http://www.financialspeakers.com). The best way to familiarize yourself with their customer base is to visit the site of each member bureau of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus (http://www.iasbweb.org).
7. Always maintain a professional attitude.
Keep your composure under stress. Bureaus aim to please meeting planners because they seek repeat business. Why not? Those same meeting planners who have a positive experience with one speaker will return many times over to the same bureau for another speaker or speakers.
If you react negatively under pressure while at an event, or if you act or speak unkindly or inconsiderately or disrespectfully in any situation, the news will spread like a virus.
Even if you excel in expertise, eloquence and enterprise, if you are perceived as unethical, disrespectful, unkind or inappropriate, your speaking career and your relationship with bureaus will end.
The IASB member bureaus stay in touch with each other and share experiences about various speakers and events. Maintain an attitude and presence that makes them want to work with you again!
8. Create an extensive line of information products.
As a leader in your field, you're demonstrating your ability to create solutions for others who have challenges. This increases your outreach, your name recognition and your popular appeal. If you have popular appeal, bureaus will want to know about you.
If you have a Nightingale Conant product, you have instant credibility. If you do not, you can create your own library of information products helpful for those in your industry.
Get the best advice and service on products from the experts who do this for a living. Compare services and prices of two great companies: Speaker Fulfillment Services (http://www.speakerfulfillmentservices.com) and Flow Motion Inc. (http://www.flowmotion.com).
I use Speaker Fulfillment Services to manufacture, duplicate and distribute my products because I like the "produce on-demand" service they offer. They are instantly notified of an online purchase from my website by my website shopping cart.
If you're a generalist, you can create products designed to help anyone move to a higher performance or productivity, move from living in the past to living in the present, harness the power of their expertise, increase profits, reduce health risks, eliminate negative thinking and overcome all sorts of challenges along life's path.
With the help of Internet technology, you can keep track of customer buying patterns, convert one-time customers to continuity customers and serve your buyers with each new product you make available. Brian Tracy (http://www.briantracy.com) is the consummate professional speaker producing a continual stream of information products every year. Those products reach out around the world in different languages and make contact for him. Those buyers have their companies bring him in to speak at a high rate of bookings and rebookings. Bureaus follow suit.
As long as you do not abuse the privilege of speaking when promoting your products and services with or without permission, it's an added benefit to your appearance. If you get a reputation of pitching your product rather than delivering your designated speech, it's the kiss of death.
You may wish to give away a set of your products to the organization that hires you to speak. It may be used in the company library for everyone's benefit and it will promote good will with meeting planners and bureaus.
9. Introduce yourself to speakers bureaus.
The most prominent and busiest bureaus have lots of speakers but they are always seeking more buyers, that is, organizations that hire speakers. Remember - bureaus represent the interests of their buyers, not the interests of speakers. The exception is when bureaus have exclusives with speakers, meaning they handle all of the speaking engagements for a speaker regardless of the origin of the inquiry. In industry terms, they have an exclusive with the speaker.
So, while bureaus may have lots of speakers, they are open to reviewing new speakers and speakers who represent new ideas.
The primary reasons that influence speaker selection are facts and third party endorsements about the speaker. Facts might be industry distinctions such as sales awards, top producer rankings, honors you've received, your educational background, books you've written, courses you've taught, your charitable affiliations, your military service, years you've been a professional speaker, articles about you or articles or special reports written by you.
Third party endorsements are clients that have benefited from your expertise. These may be a series of letters you've received, one or two sentences from various individuals who have hired you in the past, quotes about books you've written, quotes from top producers who have used your sales strategies to increase their personal production, etc.
The International Association of Speakers Bureaus offers an online directory of member bureaus that you can view without being a member. Visit http://www.iasbweb.org. Click on "bureau locator" and then click on "submit." (You do not need to complete the form.) You will have a list of approximately 165 member bureaus with their contact info right there in plain sight! Thank you, IASB.
You can contact any bureau any time, but I offer a word of caution. Look at each bureau site and see if they have established a protocol for new speakers who wish to be represented. If they do, it's a straight forward form that you can complete. Otherwise, ask the receptionist for the name and email address of the person at the bureau who receives new speaker submissions.
Most speakers bureaus do not charge an upfront fee to represent you.
If you would like some help when introducing yourself to bureaus, join eSpeakers. It's the single most helpful tool in booking speakers that I have used in 27 years. If you're a member of eSpeakers, you may enjoy one of their services immediately by having them do an eBlast about you and your expertise to all of the speakers bureaus.
The eBlast invites a bureau to take a look at your biographical material on eSpeakers (www.espeakers.com). Any bureau that wishes to add you to their website can have it done in a matter of minutes when you are listed on eSpeakers. You can easily have your speaking calendar, bio, presentation topics, fees, your promo DVD, photos and appearance documents uploaded to eSpeakers, and that makes it possible for speakers bureaus to access your information, place holds and book you.
In addition to making it easy for bureaus to review your expertise, you also make it easy on yourself. Once you're listed on eSpeakers you can have all of your materials, including your video, added to your own website. You can easily update your speaker profile yourself! Meeting planners will be able to learn all about what you have to offer and view your video right on your website.
One of the best features is that you will be able to access your calendar any time and from any place to check changes that have been made by bureaus and to make changes, as they occur, in your schedule.
In closing, my best advice to you is to continue to promote yourself and your service without relying on bureaus. Use the nine (9) action steps you've just read, work on serving others and pretty soon, you'll get a call from a bureau. It's predictable.
Mary McKay is a booking strategist for speakers, authors, experts, leaders, top producers, and cultural heroes who want to secure paid speaking engagements. She systematizes the booking process to uniquely position the speaker, optimize the appearance, generate referrals and enable more revenue potential through product sales. Visit www.turnkeyspeaker.com or call 949-429-6646.