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What Does the First Year of Professional Speaking Look Like?
The first phase of building your career is filled with getting the word out that you are available for hire as a professional speaker. You'll also gain experience as you speak for free. Yes, that's right - free. Your goal is build a database of clients and testimonials concerning your work before you hit the big time. One resource stated that you should plan on speaking for free for at least 200 hundred times to build a successful reputation and foundation of experience. The reason for all of this is that many speaker bureaus and meeting planners want speakers with experience and an established reputation in the field they're in. As of now, you are working on creating your future success!
Here are some things you can do as you begin your professional speaking career.
1) List the topics you can speak on. Join a social network like LinkedIn (known as the social network for professionals) or forum and list those topics there.
2) Write some articles on these topics and post them on the free article websites. You can also post articles on your own website and add them to social bookmark sites. Whoever reads your article will see your bio at the bottom of each article and you'll promote yourself as a speaker for these topics!
3) Get as many free speaking engagements as possible. Check with your local library or the Chamber of Commerce. Get feedback from your free speaking engagements and start compiling a list of these.
4) Take a professional picture of yourself. People want to feel connected to you and personalizing your website by adding your picture to it is just one of the ways. Additionally, you'll need a professional photo for your portfolio
5) If you're an expert in a trade, write articles for your industry's trade publications. Sometimes these publications will ask for a short (1-2 sentence bio) where you can list "professional speaker" as part of your career listing. One benefit is that you can also get paid writing.
6) Get online and create a blog or website about the topics that you cover. Utilize social networking to build relationships with potential clients as well as peers in your industry. Promote yourself as a professional speaker and a thought leader in your industry.
7) Add a tagline to your email signature. Whoever gets your emails will see that you are a professional speaker for hire.
8) Research the industry for pay rates and start developing a fee schedule for your speaking engagements. We mentioned earlier that you should expect to speak for free, however, speaking for free could easily turn into a paying job for you. What would you charge?
9) Create a demo video of a speaking event you've done. You can use clips from several of your speaking jobs (including the free ones).
During this first phase, you're basically building your professional speaking portfolio. You'll need this portfolio to go after higher paying jobs with speaker bureaus and meeting planners. You're already working towards your future success!
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