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Should Speakers Network Differently?

Speaking and networking... do they go hand in hand? The answer is a resounding yes! Networking is one of the easiest ways for a speaker to let more people know that they’re open to speaking opportunities. And, if you’ve been following me, then you know how much I believe in the power of networking when it comes to building relationships. That’s where great things begin—with meeting, connecting, and building a relationship. If it weren’t for the relationships we took the time to build, it would take us forever to accomplish anything!

Networking is important for every small business owner and entrepreneur, but for a speaker, networking can make the difference between wondering if you’re ever going to secure your first speaking engagement and looking forward to your next speaking engagement.

Another undeniable advantage to networking is how much time and effort it saves. Everybody’s time is valuable, and in the exact same way that speakers benefit from speaking to more than one person at a time, people who network benefit from meeting, and hopefully making a connection, with more than one person at a time. This is why I believe so strongly in the value of networking. It’s a short cut to connecting and building relationships that make more things possible.

Should speakers network differently than other business professionals? Here are a few thoughts on that topic:
  • Set Networking Goals: Set a couple of speaker-related networking goals. These goals don’t have to be lofty ones. They can be as simple as a goal to improve your chit-chat skills when you start sharing information about yourself as a subject matter expert and speaker. Or, as complex as trying to get introduced to a specific member of an organization you’re interested in speaking at.
  • Never Confuse Quantity with Quality: Don’t think of networking as a numbers game because there’s more value in having a few meaningful conversations than there is in trying to speak to everyone. And, just like it is with speaking, make sure you have a way to follow up with people. There’s only so much that can happen at an event—whether it’s a networking or speaking event. After that, it’s those follow up conversations and meetings that will determine what happens next. (Check out the speaker tip below for some great ideas!)
  • Make Sure Your Elevator Pitch Includes You’re Status as a Speaker: Networking can be exciting and enjoyable, but never forget that it’s also about advancing some aspect of your career. This means that your elevator pitch has to include your desire to share your expertise from the stage.

  • Listen: LOL … I know, as speakers we’re used to speaking. But when you’re networking, your job is to listen to what people are saying about themselves and what they do. It’s not to listen for opportunities to break in and announce that you’re a speaker. If the person is interested in hearing more about what you speak about, they’ll let you know in the exact same way that you’d let them know if you were interested in hearing more about something they said.

  • Make Your Networking Destinations Meaningful: Look for networking events that have speakers. Find out about the speakers they’ve hired in the past. Ask yourself a few questions: Can you see yourself on their stage? Do you align with their vision? Will your expertise help solve a problem for their attendees?

Lastly, double check to make sure that when you leave the event you have a way to connect with the people you’d like to keep the conversation going with. Then, take the initiative by calling, sending an email or greeting card, or connecting on social media. Whichever you choose, be sure to personalize it by thanking them for their time and referencing something from your shared conversation.

As I've said on many occasions, networking is about building relationships. When speakers take the time to nurture their new connections, they're more likely to grow into relationships that lead to more speaking opportunities.

September is one of the best times of the year to get out there and start networking, so here's to a busy and successful fall for all of us!