Whether you’re an experienced speaker or you’re just getting started, the hardest part of speaking professionally is getting booked. Public speaking opportunities don’t usually fall into your lap on their own. You need to know how to find speaking opportunities in your field so you can actually land gigs, earn money, and create a sustainable business.
Unless you’re a big-name thought leader in your field, it takes the right strategy to understand how to find speaking opportunities. The reality is that it’s a lot of hard work. Not only do you need to position yourself as an expert, but you also have to develop an existing audience around your brand. In today’s world, that means focusing on outbound sales, marketing, and your digital presence.
From there, you also have to learn how to identify speaking opportunities that are the right fit. Just because there is an opportunity doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Because you want to guarantee an excellent experience for your clients, you should only book the speaking gigs you feel confident about.
If you’re unsure how to market yourself and find speaking opportunities, you’re not alone. The average professional speaker rates themselves at 4.5 out of 10 in terms of sales skills. However, this is an opportunity to learn how to find speaking opportunities to push yourself ahead of the competition. Today’s speakers can’t be afraid to put themselves out there if they want to make an impact. Let’s explore how to find speaking opportunities in 5 simple steps.
Allocate Time For Outbound Sales
To begin, outbound sales have to be a part of your strategy. If you want to know how to find speaking opportunities, outbound sales are a must. You need to leave time every week to search for new speaking opportunities. If you have a strong understanding of your ideal client profile, it’s easy to locate the right events for your goals.
Additionally, you don’t have to search from scratch. Your time as a business owner is valuable. While you could spend countless hours on search engines, this might just slow you down. The Speaker Intel Engine is a powerful tool for finding events, decision-makers, and contact info in just a few minutes.
In a perfect world, the best opportunities would find you. Similarly, it’s true many of the top speakers no longer seek out opportunities. They get referrals and leads easily. However, until you reach that point, you can’t ignore outbound sales. By putting yourself out there, you begin to build key relationships with event decision-makers. Even if these don’t directly translate to gigs right away, they have the potential for growth in the future.
If you’re just getting started, inbound marketing alone isn’t enough. Proactive prospecting and outbound sales aren’t about being overly salesy or spamming people with calls. Instead, it’s a chance to be authentic, learn your audience, and share real value. You don’t need a long pitch. In fact, this could hurt you more than help you. Focus on identifying the best fit opportunities for you first and foremost. From there, connect by forming a real relationship.
Look Beyond Calls For Speakers
Next, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only looking into open calls for speakers. While this is a valid way to find a gig, it shouldn’t be your only avenue. You need to get into the habit of thinking like a business owner, and that means looking beyond general calls for speakers. There are more speakers out there than ever before. While this competition could be intimidating, it’s also an opportunity to get creative.
It’s true that some events will be broadcasted openly with a call for speakers, but other opportunities are less obvious. For example, when companies merge together, it’s common to hire a speaker or consultant to excite and motivate the newly blended team. Similarly, if an industry is rapidly changing, this could be a chance to lend your expertise. You shouldn’t only focus on open calls for speakers when you might be missing something even more obvious.
While you should always look for open events, don’t limit yourself. When you know your value areas and your ideal clients, you can always find ways to leverage your expertise. Why not pitch your assistance and discover ways to create events around your thought leadership? The best speakers understand that opportunities sometimes need to be built from the ground up. If you notice a company going through a period of growth or change, this could be the time to jump in as the professional speaker they’ve been waiting for. You never know until you ask!
Piggyback Off Your Competitors
Additionally, you don’t have to stay entirely in your own lane. If you know your top competitors in your industry, it’s smart to consider what they’ve done in the past. Important people usually do important work, so this could pave the path forward for your own career. In other words, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Who are your competitors’ past clients? What events did they speak at? These are most likely a good fit for you as well, and they were clearly open to hiring speakers at one point. You could always reach out with a helpful pitch. For example, say something along these lines: “I saw that you hired Speaker Name a few months ago. I have a great keynote that builds off of that.” From there, this is an opportunity to start a conversation.
There’s nothing wrong with piggybacking off competitors. However, make sure you don’t copy them. You want to always do your own thing or build upon their expertise. What can you do better? What unique perspective do you bring to the table? When you understand your value, it’s easier to sell yourself when it matters the most.
This is another reason why it’s important to be an active part of your community. When you’re engaging with other speakers, thought leaders, and experts on social media and at in-person events, you discover gaps in the space. This is a prime opportunity to get noticed.
Make The Most Of Your Network
Similarly, utilize your existing network. Speaking a people-first business. If you want to learn how to find speaking opportunities, you need to be open to leveraging key connections. When you build a culture of connection with other speakers, you have others to recommend when you’re not a good fit for a specific gig. Likewise, they’re prompted to refer you as well.
There are a lot of places where you can build your network of speaking professionals. In-person events, community trade shows, social media, and podcasts are all great starting points. Within SpeakerFlow University, these connections happen all the time. Having a supportive, encouraging group of individuals on a similar journey is super helpful when you’re a solopreneur.
You can also consider joining groups online for speakers associations, such as those of the National Speakers Association (NSA) or the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS). Facebook groups, Reddit, and Twitter are buzzing with micro-communities, and these span industry lines. You never know when a simple connection might turn into a profitable contract. At the very least, you’ll be the first to learn about industry changes and innovations.
As a speaker, it’s up to you to be tapped into the heart of your network. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know—it’s who you know. Don’t underestimate the power of an introduction, even a virtual one. This could lead to collaboration opportunities, referrals, and a lifelong career.
Always Focus On Long-Term Relationships
Last but not least, your focus should always be on long-term relationships. As a business owner, your past and existing clients are the foundation of your business. Not only can past clients become future clients, but they can also turn into referral sources down the road.
Don’t just take our word for it. The proof is in the numbers. A reported 61% of small businesses report that more than half of their revenue comes from repeat customers vs. new business. When you book a client, this is an opportunity to create an outstanding experience. If you sell your experience, value, and skills, you’re more likely to turn that single client into countless opportunities. Offering a noteworthy, memorable service is more worthwhile than all the sales and marketing in the world.
While the primary focus for speakers is landing paid gigs, don’t miss out on a chance to build relationships. This might mean working for free while building your network, or considering long-term collaboration opportunities. It’s important to be flexible and open-minded when making the most of your community.
Now, you know how to find speaking opportunities in just a few steps. There’s no need to overcomplicate this process, especially when you’re first getting started. While you’re not likely going to find overnight success, there is a very real upward path forward. However, you need to find the confidence to put yourself out there without fear of failure.
Are you ready to get started? The SpeakerFlow team is here to help you each step of the way. Book a discovery call with our team or check out our coaching program page to learn more about our services. We’ve helped speakers from around the world tackle new challenges, master new sales strategies, and more. Now, we’re here to help you do the same. 🚀