How to crack the code and
get yourself booked and
booked and booked for professional speaking fees.
by Burt Dubin
To start, get good: Target a market you know you can serve.
Develop, prove and present at least one credible program that
you know gives real value to audiences in your market. Shake
out the bugs and goofs. Present for local and regional groups
for low fees until you're satisfied that you're ready for
the Big Leagues.
Develop at least a minimum promotional package. Include a
One-sheet, a few letters from organizations you've spoken
for, a video or at least an audio of you presenting. Plus
this: A certainty in your bones that you're really ready.
This is how you start. Do outbound marketing. It's tough.
Yet, tough or not, new speakers may have no other way to get
their feet wet. I did it for years. Averaged 75 paid bookings
a year for $3000 to $6000 each. Do the numbers. Tough or not,
it is a handsome living, more than a living. You work from
home, travel 2 or 3 days a week, have lots of time with your
family. It's a career, a high-paid career as an independent
expert who speaks. You serve the meeting market.
The two easiest portals to get yourself into the meeting
market are conferences and conventions that are budgeted,
planned, and committed to happen. Did you get that? Conferences
and conventions that are budgeted, planned, and committed
When you are a total unknown, when you have not established
your name or your reputation, you do have a chance here. See
the recommended actions below.
1. Get yourself the basic tools
Get yourself the basic tools you need for penetrating the
meeting market via outbound marketing:
Within the USA, invest in 3 directories. First, call Columbia
Books at 888-265-0600. Order the NTPA Directory.
(National Trade and Professional Associations.) It is your
basic, must-have cross reference. Issued annually each February,
it costs about $150, or so, less with a standing order.
A vital resource, it gives you a lot of essential information
about the Association market, key information available
Then call Douglas Publications at 800-223-1797. Order 2
Directories, as follows: Directory of Association
Meeting Planners. It is an Annual published each
March on CD only. Bite the bullet. It's $550. Get it. Then,
order the Directory of Corporate Meeting Planners.
About $450, hard copy, published each March. Bite the bullet
again. Get it. You need it. Both Directories include the
These are valuable because they tell you whether outside
speakers are used and paid. Think about your fee for one
hour. Now the cost of these annual directories doesn't seem
so high. One engagement more than pays for both directories.
Outside the USA: In Canada, start with Micromedia, 800-387-2689.
(From outside Canada call +416-362-5211.) Every June, they
publish the Directory of Canadian Associations.
CDN$ 300, or so. Also check out the Canadian Society of
Association Executives, 416-596-6433.
Worldwide, you can get Directories of Corporations
in the 100 largest countries. The source is KOMPASS INTERNATIONAL,
1255 Route 70, #25S, Lakewood NJ 08701 USA. Phone 732-730-0340.
Contact: Howard Holmes. In Australia, phone +613-9245-7800.
In the United Kingdom, phone +44-342-326-972. For 97 other
countries, contact the USA office.
2. Prepare yourself to smile and dial
Now that you have the Directories, consider the markets
you are targeting and contact only the organizations in
these markets. Arm yourself with a plan to call 25 to 50
target organizations each day relentlessly.
Start at 8:00 AM in the time zones you are calling into.
Yes, most decision-makers you want to reach are at their
desks by then. Get to them while their day is young and
they are fresh. Move through the time zones, calling between
8:00 AM and 9:00 AM in each time zone. You'll probably have
to call more than once to reach the decision-maker you want.
Avoid burnout this way: Limit yourself to 3 or 4 outbound
hours each day. Take Friday off.
3. Eliminate inappropriate organizations fast
Limit your calls to companies and associations that have
definite conventions/ conferences planned and committed
at specific venues for dates that are published. Have a
series of questions to ask. Your objective is to get off
the phone fast if the group does not qualify for your services.
Here are a few model questions.
- Does your organization bring in experts who speak to help
make your meetings more successful?
- Who is making the decisions on these outside experts this
- May I speak to that person, please?
Now you have the decision maker on the phone...