Do you view your speaking engagements as single-shot events to sell your wares? You've got just one chance to sway a throng of potential buyers of your services and books and products ... right? So you do your very best, then head back to the office in the hopes that something happens.
If you think and behave this way, please stop. It’s a very passive approach, like assuming your published articles or books will simply reel in customers without any further effort. Silly you!
To truly maximize your speaking opportunities, published articles and even books, however, you must plug them firmly into your business development strategy. They must be understood as the selling tools they in fact are, and wielded accordingly. The following “thoughtleading actions” will help:
1. Distribute Your Published Articles as Handouts
Don’t leave your published articles at home, particularly if you have one that covers precisely the same topic as your presentation. Or perhaps there’s an excerpt from one of your books that can make the perfect handout. If so, print up nice glossy reprints, ask your meeting planner how many attendees are expected, then place your handouts at every table setting or chair before you begin speaking.
Bring along stacks of copies of your other published articles as well in case there’s an information table where you can leave them, as well as copies of your book to sell. Always be ready with ample copes of published works so you won't be caught short if you need them.
2. Bring Your Book Too!
If you’ve published a book, bring copies for sale, possibly at a “this day only” discount. Ask your meeting planner if he or she can recruit someone to sell the book for you in the back of the room; if not, ask for a guest pass so that you can bring your own assistant to do this. For book sales success, base your presentation on your book’s central topic, or at least find ways to relate your topic to portions of the book.
Keep holding up the book as you mention it too. This reminds your attendees that if they want to bring you home, your book is a marvelous way to do it.
3. Collect Business Cards
When chatting with folks before you are introduced to speak, exchange business cards. You might also pass around a basket or hat as you begin your talk, requesting everyone’s business card and explaining honestly why you want them:
“I plan to keep in touch with all of you after this talk by putting you on my e-list and connecting with you on LinkedIn. You can always unsubscribe, of course, but I believe we all must find ways to build relationships with one another and then maintain them. So I’ll put you on my e-list, and I want you to put me on yours. That way, we’ll both stay in touch so we can both grow our networks.”
If you do have a book, you might sweeten this collection of cards and emails by raffling one or two of your books, or (if not an author yet) offer a lovely fruit basket, or gift certificate or other surprise item. But above all, find a way to gather audience cards and emails.
4. Thank Everyone Within 2-3 Days
A common mistake far too many speakers make is to deliver possibly their best presentation ever, then wave goodbye to their now-adoring crowd and leave the premises never to be seen or heard from again! Even after collecting everyone’s business card, they toss them aside when back at their office and never do a darn thing with them ... ever!
Instead, within the next 2-3 days, without fail, input all this juicy new contact info into your database, then send out a sincere thank-you email to every attendee who has given you a card, saying something like this:
Hello Business Circle Attendee!
Thank you so much for coming to my presentation this past week. I hope I was able to offer you a few “gems” that you’ll find valuable going forward. As promised, I am putting you on my e-list and LinkedIn, and I hope you will put me on yours as well.
Also, see this link to my (article or book or website) so you can learn more about my services. If there is anything I can do for you or your company, please don't hesitate to email or call.
Let’s keep in touch! Perhaps we’ll see each other at another Business Circle event real soon.
Ken Lizotte CMC
Such a short-but-sweet email thank-you goes a long way toward advancing whatever connection you made during your presentation. This cordial follow-up note sets the stage for each attendee to feel comfortable receiving your future eblasts, and inquiring down the road when finally ready to engage you.
The four techniques above will invariably distinguish you from your competition, not only as someone with a high level of expertise in a particular area but also as who actually cares about building a professional two-way relationship. I don’t know how many times in my own career, for example, genuinely qualified prospects have come my way out of the blue after seeing me speak perhaps years ago. Yet by connecting via our e-lists and social media (LinkedIn especially), they finally felt comfortable approaching me about my services ... and thereafter became a paying client!
When this happens, the selling pipeline swells a bit and your selling skillset seems to know no bounds. You have effectively maximized your use of published articles, a speaking engagement, and perhaps even a book by you.
For more on this topic, see Ken’s “The Speaker’s Edge” (Maven House Press) or “The Expert’s Edge” (McGraw-Hill), available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble or thru independent bookstores everywhere. Ken and his firm emerson consulting group inc. help consultants, sales reps, executives and companies publish their article and book ideas and obtain speaking gigs, thereby converting them into “thoughtleaders” and separating them from the competitive pack. Google “emerson consulting group inc.” to learn more.