Speaking at conferences is the fastest way I’ve found to kickstart yourself as a trusted authority in your target market. Unfortunately, it can be hard to break into the speaker circuit when you’re just starting out.
In this article I’ll share a few tips I’ve picked up over the years for landing your first speaking gig, and some back up plans for what to do if it doesn’t work the first time.
Let’s say there’s this conference that your audience will surely attend. Should you buy a ticket? I wouldn’t. I’d try to speak at it.
Would I apply through the “call for speakers” form on the conference website? No. I’d look through the list of past speakers for someone I know and try to get them to intro me to the organizers.
What if that didn’t work? Would I apply through the normal channels? Maybe, but probably not. For the sake of argument, let’s say I did apply and got rejected.
Should I buy a ticket to attend now? I wouldn’t. I’d just go hang out at the hotel. Most of the good stuff happens in the bar after the sessions anyway. And if you’re in the area during the event, there are three things you can do to capitalize on your physical location:
But what if you don’t want to travel a long way to hang around at a conference that you’re not speaking at or attending? Another thing you can do is hashbomb.
What is hashbombing, you ask?
It’s a word I just made up to describe this:
Most conferences encourage attendees to tweet with a special hashtag. Attendees will watch the feed for that hashtag closely during the conference for announcements. During the conference, you can follow feed to get a really good feel for what’s happening and what’s getting traction with the audience. At appropriate times, you drop helpful links to your stuff into that feed.
Even if you just lurk on the feed, you can get a lot of great info about your audience. Just remember to do it while the conference is in progress - the feed will die soon after the closing keynote.
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