The year 2011 was wonderful! I had the opportunity to speak in many cities and be interviewed on so many shows. One thing I did differently this past year was actually focus on speaking more in my own city. In 2010 and 2009 I spent most of my time speaking outside the city so I felt the need to cultivate more relationships locally inside rehab centers, middle/high schools, universities, and businesses. The plan worked! Along with doing my weekly news commentary on Sound of Soul Radio on KPFT, I focused on sharpening my skills as an analyst and interviewee on different shows as well. The plan worked! And from the looks of these requests I am getting already, 2012 is going to be another busy year in servicing audiences with my gifts and talents. What about you? Are you ready?
This year I would like to help more people like you do the same thing. I get a lot of emails requesting advice on how I have been successful at getting booked. It's no secret formula. It takes work to establish yourself but once you get the opportunity to show what got--make sure you deliver! I learned alot by attending speaking bootcamps, reading books, but nothing beats practicing. Since then I've spoken somewhere just about every month the past few years--paid and non-paid.
What did I do starting out? Most critical thing was I had to decide "WHY" I wanted to start speaking because that would determine my longevity. Motive is super important. Next, I wrote out what themes, areas and markets I wanted to cover when I spoke. Once I got those things down on paper, this is some of things I did to get rolling in the schools in my city, state and eventually the country.
1) I live in Houston so I first found a site for Texas that has a listing of all of the school districts in the state with email contacts and phone numbers.
2) I formulated a professional email to send to all of them. My letter offered my services rather than me trying to beg them to book me.
3) I followed up with a phone call the next week to make sure they received it and to see if they needed my services.
4) Once I got booked, I sent them a contract whether it was paid or non-paid. Why? Documentation beats conversation any day! I made sure I requested from the school that I needed a letterhead from the administration telling how much they enjoyed my talk. Plus I was cleared to take pics and to video.
5) Once I got to the school, I exceeded their expectations no matter if it was five or five hundred in the audience. You can't rob people of your best because you never know how that one talk can lead to more bookings. So I prepared to give the best.
6) Made sure to follow up with the administration to get the testimonies on letterhead for my portfolio and left my contact information with them just in case they needed me again or wanted to refer me.
Bonus: I started out doing a lot of speaking engagements for free but by collecting all of that content (i.e. letter, video, pics) I now had things I could leverage via my blog to get paid speaking engagements. I'm still striving to master the business side of it all but it has been rewarding. Next step? Take Action! Start speaking!
In the next post I will discuss the art of getting booked for radio and television interviews. Happy New Year!
(Follow Brother Jesse's boring Tweets at @BrotherJesse)