One way to get your brand out there, once it’s been established, is to become the face of it. Positioning yourself as an influencer or an expert in your field will allow you to become an extension of your brand, something which has proven to be a cost-effective way of attracting potential customers.
When I started a career consulting business seven years ago, I had about $5 in my marketing budget and all the time in the world to figure out how to grow it. I had just quit my day job and quickly learned my first lesson in business: people don’t just throw money at you because you went to city hall and got a business permit.
Recognising that I needed to meet people and become known in my field, I quickly set out to make the most of my time by meeting as many people as I could while also making the biggest impression possible. How? Public speaking.
Reading those last few sentences, you may have cringed. I know public speaking is the biggest fear of adults, but I want to make a case for it. Yes, social media exists and it’s a great way to spread your message. However, face-to-face connection is still the number one way to get to know, like, and trust someone. And at the heart of all business deals is the know-like-trust factor.
Here are six reasons to consider public speaking as a strategy to build your brand.
1. It’s networking on steroids
When you attend a networking event, you might see 100 people in the room. Over the course of 60 minutes, how many conversations can you realistically have? Five? Probably. Maybe even 10. What if you could talk to all 100 and be remembered by every single one of them? This is a huge advantage over every person in the room because all eyes are on you for 30, 60, or maybe 90 minutes. You are changing their life in some way. You are the person they are thinking about when they drive home. There is no other way to meet everyone in the room and leave such a strong impression than public speaking. To increase the return on your marketing time and build your brand faster, public speaking is the way to go.
2. It’s priceless research
Every presentation creates an opportunity for your target audience to talk directly to you about their questions that pertain to your topic. This is amazing research! Rather than write a blog post and be left wondering if you said everything, when you give a talk, your audience actually tells you what they still need to know when you’re done. They ask for more information on what they care about most. They make it so easy for you to rework your material and build new offerings they will be interested in. Rather than do online surveys, jot down the questions that come from your talks and use those to continue building your company and your brand. Your audience will thank you!
3. Confidence building
People often tell me they weren’t born with the ability to do public speaking, so they think it’s not an option. Not true! I used to be petrified of public speaking – even in small groups of three or four – and when I dedicated myself to improving, I started to gain confidence and build the skill set needed to present. It has taken years, and I’ve watched many others do this as well, but it is a skill that you can grow. As your abilities grow, your confidence grows, and that helps your attitude, which ultimately improves your behavior and results. Even if it’s not easy to start, public speaking is a skill that builds professionals into leaders through ongoing practice and patience.
4. The positioning is ridiculous
When speaking at a conference, you could be in a line-up featuring Richard Branson, Oprah, or Seth Godin. When your fans and followers see that you are speaking alongside these giants, what do you think that does for your brand? It elevates it! And it elevates it faster than writing 10 blog posts or writing 500 tweets. By stepping on stage with reputable, inspiring, accomplished celebrities, your brand skyrockets.
5. The revenue stream
Not everyone goes this route, but if you want to make money as a speaker, it’s totally doable. Did you know speaking gigs are everywhere? Think about it – breakfast meetings, conferences, seminars, workshops, trainings, networking events, fundraisers, retreats, groups, clubs, the list goes on. Not all of these groups will pay speakers, but they are all great places to start building your brand as a speaker so you can land paid speaking gigs. It’s not ridiculous to be paid $5,000 for an hour of your time as a new professional speaker.
6. It’s a gateway to giants
You may start out speaking at small local networking meetings, but over time, you’ll start booking regional conferences, fundraising dinners, and weekend retreats. You may even take the stage at a corporate training. What all of these small and medium-sized gigs do for your brand is start to create a long list of clients, testimonials, and referrers. The more people who have sat in your audience, the more people who can introduce you to bigger companies, bigger names, and bigger conferences. You may be speaking at the public library today, and Facebook next year. Once the giants are aware of you, it could lead to new partnerships, new contracts, and new business opportunities. It’s a matter of building your skills, building your network, and building your brand as a speaker who is knowledgeable and credible in your field.
Once you start doing presentations, proving your value, creating relationships, and carving out a name for yourself and your brand, you will start to see returns that you may have one day wondered could be possible for you. As with all marketing, your brand builds over time through consistent messaging, a strong presence, and creating a unique product people value.