What I learnt about how to find startup speaking opportunities
Ever wondered how you can put your startup at the forefront by landing speaking engagements? Check out these 3 tactics on what we've seen work for tech entrepreneurs and founders.
That they’re not handing them out.
Many of them are even marked as “full”.
How does one get speaking opportunities, especially when they have no recognizable brand to start? We’ll discuss a few learnings on that today.
Often times, without much effort, we give up. Thinking yeah, makes sense why those others got it, I'm not sure if I have too much to share anyway. Impostor syndrome.
Before we go any further, the dictionary definition of impostor syndrome:
“Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”
If you’re like me, you feel this on a regular basis — regardless of what your results from the past. Who am I to be writing this? Who am I to be doing this, that, or the other?
Speaking engagements is one of those that are top on the “to avoid” list. For those who can get past the fear of public speaking, a whole other story, they arrive at “But why should I even speak, when all these other great speakers are so much more accomplished?”.
Having imposter syndrome is healthy.
It means you are conscious about adding value, and hold yourself to a high standard. That’s an excellent place to start planning your outreach, and topic that you wish to discuss. You cannot fake sincerity, and this will show to the organizers.
Yet the question remains: Sure I am sincere, but who’s to say i’m worthy to participate?
1. No one in the world has the same experience as you
You may have gotten to your results faster, slower, discovered a new process on the way, researched an alternate finding, or even have a topic that you’re currently exploring further.
As hiphop artist Nas says:
“No idea’s original, there’s nothin new under the sun
It’s never what you do, but how it’s done”
Your unique angle and journey is enough to share. I don’t mean this in a motivational Oprah way, I mean this in a you-never-know-who-can-relate-and-take-action way.
2. Find your industry, and then avoid it.
Especially at the start, this could be a great way to land more speaking opportunities and stand out from the crowd (literally).
Picture a little-known social media marketer wanting to start speaking to grow her personal brand (and as an after effect, her company brand). She goes on Google to research “social media events in Europe” and find’s a list of ones that she can start contacting… That was until she saw who else was speaking there. She felt she had no chance.
Besides the fact that you have nothing to lose by simply dropping them a line to see what happens, more often than not such events may naturally have lots of relatively high-profile speakers lined up, and are in no shortage.
Luckily for her, she has options. She knows that her experience is not only transferrable to social media marketing, but having worked with clients in fashion and restaurants, she’s instantly opened herself up to other options.
From restaurants she can open up to
- Restaurant-related events
- Hospitality-related events
- Small business-related events
- Innovation-related events
Similarly for you, it is very rare that your experience spans only one industry or event type, and if you can look at tangential events that hold commonalities with the audience you hope to build affinity with, it will greatly improve your chances by building a repertoire of events you’ve spoken at before.
You never know who you may meet at that event who may be able to get you a warm introduction to another event you’re trying to land.
Go to your customer’s industry’s events, and you will be welcome.
You only have experience and leverage to gain by adding more events to your portfolio. This adds credibility and name-dropping rights the next time you approach an event organizer.
3. The “I see you don’t have anyone talking about X” approach
One of the core benefits of going to events where you’re the only one who is a subject matter expert in your field is just that.
You can appeal to an event organizer’s interest to add as much value to their audience by offering them the ability to have a different kind of speaker in the mix. One that will approach the same topic, but with:
- a fresh pair of eyes
- a different angle
- a different perspective
This is effective so long as you are able to drive home the point of commonality between what education/knowledge you can offer and the topic that their event addresses.
Most of us, unless you’re a big shot, or are very well-connected, will not get invitations on a silver platter to go speak at an event.
You have to create these opportunities for yourself. You don’t always have to start small, you just need to start different — by applying some of the ideas discussed above.