by Kerry Heaps | Featured Contributor
The answer is simple, it’s both. To get booked as a speaker, Meeting Planners need to know you, for Meeting Planners to know you, you must get in front of them every chance you get. That’s not to say that you should be calling them or emailing them on a daily or weekly basis. You should be getting in front of them via the media, submissions, and yes, an introductory call. As a former Meeting Planner, choosing the Speaker is less than 5% of what must be done to ensure a successful event. Content is extremely important, who they choose to educate on that content, is another story. The speaking industry has changed so much just in the past 5 years, there are more Speakers now than paid events. It’s about putting out great content, but it’s also about being easy to work with, being negotiable on fees and playing by the rules.
If you want to be a successful Speaker, (someone who is working consistently) you need to address the numbers game first. There are so many ways to find speaking engagements, there’s call for speakers that are abundant and year-round. Then there are the private events such as company trainings and events at colleges and universities which will require you to reach out directly to the corporate Meeting Planner or Director of Education. Although these events are scheduled earlier, there is still a lot of competition. If you can find 5 hours during your work week to dedicate to finding and applying to speaking engagements, you will start to see great success over the next three to six months. Keep in mind for every workshop, keynote or breakout session a Meeting Planner can receive up to 200 submissions from Speakers, so again it’s a numbers game. Working the numbers consistently and applying every week will work in your favor.
If you prefer to reach out to Meeting Planners directly, there are a few simple rules you should follow. First, reach out with a phone call, if you don’t reach them don’t leave a message. Try to call back the next day at a different time. If you try a few times during the week and you can’t reach them directly, then leave a voicemail. Try to talk to them first before sending an email, they may have a different process that you will need to follow such as a form to fill out or a separate website they want you to visit first, so again follow their lead. If you reach their assistant or another person in the office, you can always ask them what their process is, and ask if it is okay to email over your information, always try to obtain permission first. Having a conversation with a Meeting Planner is twofold, it’s an opportunity for you to discuss your speaking topic, then find out about their upcoming events and needs and what their process entails. If a few weeks have gone by and you have not heard back from them, find out if they’re on LinkedIn and send them a connection request. The trick is to not overdo it with contact, as a Meeting Planner has so much on their plate you never want to come across as someone who is going to be difficult to work with, that will take you out of the running much quicker than anything else. Keep in mind, when they receive your information if there is an interest, they usually will place your information in a file for follow up. For example, you may submit your information in January, but they won’t be interviewing speakers until August more than likely you will not hear back prior to that. Again, it’s not that they’re not interested or that they are trying to avoid you, they have other things going on with the event that are much more pressing. In order to start building a good relationship with the Meeting Planner, keep these things in mind.
As a Speaker, I know that the process can be frustrating at times, however it’s important to trust the process and follow it. When I re-entered the speaking arena a few years ago my first instinct was, “This industry has changed… A LOT!” It took about six months before I started to see results, but I kept working the process continuously each week. If you treat your speaking business the same, you will start to see positive results as well.
A seasoned Entrepreneur of 14 years, Kerry Kathleen Heaps is a media maven, hosting two podcasts and publishing two magazines. She is also the Founder of Pitch like a B*tch Media, an online resource for Entrepreneurs that want to gain more media exposure. She also owns Book.Speak.Repeat. a speaker submission service helping Speakers gain more PAID speaking engagements.
She is the Author of Pitch like a Bitch, Top 10 tips to pitch like a Pro (December 2018) and the Create your own Media series for Podcasting, Publishing and Publicity. Kerry has an extensive background in Sales, Networking, Recruiting, and Training. She is a former Model who specialized in Trade Show and Print work, and an experienced judge on the beauty pageant circuit.
Kerry has interviewed celebrities such as Co-Host of Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran, Authors Larry Winget, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Former Miss West Virginia and QVC Talk Show host, Kim Parrish and many more successful business entrepreneurs. She is a sought-after guest for many media outlets. Kerry loves animals, enjoys photography and is currently mastering the art of speaking French!