I’ve decided to start blogging again. It’s been ages and as some of you know I have had quite the year. For those of you don’t, I made a big career change last summer and started working as Director of Inside Sales at Agorapulse.
Agorapulse has been a client of mine for four years (funny I thought it was 5, but Facebook memories said 4) now and as they’ve grown they’ve needed more of me. To work for the team at Agorapulse is a great opportunity. I’ve learned so much more about advanced sales and online business in a shorter space of time than I would have alone.
Anyway, this is not the topic of today’s blog.
Many people have reached out to me the last year asking me to speak at events and conferences but I have turned all of them down. Both free and paid events I have said no. This is a topic that is close to my heart. When I started in business six years ago all I wanted to do was speak at conferences.
My biggest goal a few years ago was to speak at Social Media Marketing World, but I never managed to make that happen. I even did some positive vision exercises and stood on the big stage with my pal Niamh to try and make it come true 😉
This is a topic that is close to my heart. When I started in business six years ago all I wanted to do was speak at conferences. I wanted to be the one in the spotlight inspiring hundreds of people.
What I have discovered since is that even though I am a great speaker, my strength lies in being the power behind a brand, influencer, company. For the record, Social Media Marketing World was the one event that opened all the doors to my career in the last few years.
As a result of networking like a boss and building relationships at these conferences with my industry’s top influencers, I have had the opportunity to work with some of my favorite people in this space. Mari Smith, Mark Schaefer, Jon Loomer, Steve Dotto, Ian Cleary and of course this is where I established a long-term friendship with Emeric Ernoult, my now CEO.
Each of the entrepreneurs in these pictures took me under their wings at some stage and taught me very valuable lessons in entrepreneurship and business.
More recently friends and colleagues and I have been discussing whether there is a need to speak as part of your marketing mix. Is it really necessary and why do we find ourselves chasing after the speaker spotlight?
As you can see from my own experience, I didn’t have to speak in San Diego, but I was very strategic with my networking and spent time helping others before I asked for help myself.
Before I share the reasons that I stopped chasing speaking gigs, it is important to acknowledge that many people LOVE to speak at events and many of my colleagues rely on it as part of their income. This is not a post about bashing speaking, speakers, organizers or anyone else.
This is merely my own opinion based on my own experience.
Should you speak for free?
This is one I get asked ALL the time. Many events and conferences these days are asking speakers to give up their time and speak for free. I spoke at many events for free and in fact, 60% of those were free.
Before accepting, I had one caveat… was the event going to give me the opportunity to build a relationship with a potential client? That was the one ingredient required to make it worth my while.
As a service provider, my bread and butter came from working for established businesses who wanted to expand and grow online. I specialize in online sales and Facebook ads and still help a few clients in my own time today.
If you are asked to speak for free, I recommend that you use this strategy before saying yes. Do your research and find out who will be there, are they a potential lead and how are you going to establish a connection with them?
One thing I did in a few presentations was to feature the prospect in my presentation or ask them to answer a question from the audience about their business. Get the list of attendees before your event and be ready.
Of course, If you have never had the opportunity to speak at an event this may be a great way to get experience but eventually, you may want to put a price on yourself and the next time you get asked, explain that you charge a fee.
The friendships you make can lead to amazing opportunities
should you ask for payment?
I really struggled with this in the early days. Should I ask for payment? What if they say no and how much do I charge for my time?
One of my mentors and I had a conversation long ago. I used to say that people might not be able to afford me. His reply was that I should never assume how much someone had to invest in me and my services and if they got the desired result it was worth every penny that I was charging.
Don’t get me wrong, your time is precious and invaluable and of yes you are worth a fee. We all are. If we’re good enough to be asked to speak then we clearly have value to offer to an audience.
My advice is to ask if there is a speakers budget. Be very clear that you are used to being paid for your time and effort that you put into your presentation. If the organizers are not in a position to pay you, think about my previous advice. From the outside, it may seem that the event organizer is making a ton of money, but believe me, these events are REALLY expensive to put on.
At the very least you should have your expenses covered for the day and I used to work a few hours in and around the event when I was not speaking, so I was not losing out on any income. Glamorous, right?
Is this a well-established event? Then there is a huge opportunity for you to increase your profile and become more visible as 1. an expert in your space and 2. build relationships with people who may give you business or connect you with people who will.
Think about the long game when you are being asked to speak at events. At the end of the day the decision is yours and it is subjective and none of anybody’s business what you decide to do.
Follow your heart and learn as you go.
Why I stopped Chasing the Speaker Spotlight
This was a really personal decision for me. I am in the very fortunate position that I don’t have to rely on paid speaking gigs so much these days. This is not to say that I don’t miss speaking terribly.
In fact, I get to speak multiple times a day. Working in sales is face to face and I need to be on top of my game every time I meet a new prospect. I have to be fresh and energetic and just as passionate to help one person as I was three calls ago. I LOVE it.
Standing at my desk in slippers and with my litre bottle of water, I get to speak every single day. To prospects in my day job, coaching clients two nights a week and when I fancy doing a Facebook live.
All I have done is stopped chasing because when I did and then got refused I would decline into a depression. In fact, I would say more like a sulk for not getting what I wanted.
Sounds awful, but I am being really honest. The ego can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, but I am aware of it!
I stopped chasing because I wanted to spend this year focusing on my family and myself. Settling into my new role at Agorapulse and figuring out what my real purpose is.
Will I be speaking again? I get to do it every single day when I meet a sales prospect, I’ll be doing more Facebook lives in my own time and I am sure there are big stages in my future when I will finally stand there and inspire lots of people just like I have dreamed. I believe it will be for the right reason and for the right audience.
For now, my ego is happy my work is fulfilling and life is really good. The quiet time off the road has been amazing and has given me time to think about the content I want to write and the people I still want to connect with.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Share your comments below and please share this post if you think it will help someone you know.
Thank you for reading
Jenny B xxx