6-3 Get Referrals from Personal Networking

It cannot be overstated that personal networking, the opportunity for people to meet you, talk with you and assess who you are one on one is the most likely way for you to find new clients. People work with people they like and trust and it is easiest for others to establish that trust in person.

Success Mindset

Networking success can be a numbers game, so the more people I meet and get to know, the more likely they will refer a client to me. Although it can be hard to leave home early in the morning for a breakfast event or stay out late for an evening event, it is worth the effort. A lot of my success will be about being in the right place at the right time.

Planning to Network Effectively

The first order of business is to make a list of who might be a speaker or consider becoming a speaker that you know, and secondly, who do you know or where do you regularly go that would give you access to these people.

We recommend that you attend at least two networking events every month. But networking is a state of mind, not an event. Every day offers the opportunity to network. If you can learn to smile at strangers and start interesting conversations, you can succeed at networking.

Important Note

We have prepared a checklist you can print and take with you or email any time you go out to network and want to show people what you do.

Do Your Friends and Business Associates Know What You Do?

You see your neighbor, Jack, in the driveway in the morning and give him a friendly wave as you back your car up to head out to run errands. How much do you know about Jack’s business? How much does he know about yours? You drop off your tax receipts at your bookkeeper once a month or at your tax accountant’s office once a quarter or once a year. Does he or she know what you do? Can you imagine how many people those people have as clients every year? Could you make sure they have a quantity of your business cards so it is easy to recommend you as a professional resource?

What a Virtual Speaker’s Assistant Can Do For You is in a downloadable PDF form here: What a VSA Can Do For You

Networking as a Lifestyle

You might be anywhere, in a café or at a school meeting when you hear these words, “I’m a professional speaker…” or “I’m doing a seminar at the Chamber this Friday.” You will want to introduce yourself very simply to this person, hand him or her your business card, and hopefully get a card in return.

Sample Networking Email

There are places where speakers especially go to hear and see other speakers, such as the national and regional meetings of the National Speaker’s Association. Many speakers are also subject matter experts and authors and speak regularly themselves and they are in the perfect position to introduce you to other speakers.

Speakers who are also authors are not hard to find, so develop your simple approach with the classic elevator speech (50 words that introduce you and what you do). Make it specific enough so that the author can determine if you do what he or she needs and make it interesting enough to generate follow up questions from those listening.

Sample Elevator Speech

I help speakers spend more of their time on stage and developing their speeches because I take care of all the organizational aspects of speaking – like working with prospects and meeting planners, marketing, and maintaining their websites and social networking and selling products.

Attending Professional Networking Events

While it is relatively easy to find speakers, you have another criterion to consider – budget. The best place to find speaker who may not have the time but do have the budget to do all of the speaker tasks may be at networking events geared to professionals. These include events intended for entrepreneurs, HR professionals, authors, coaches, attorneys, psychologists, fitness professionals, and health professionals.

Do some research and see if you can be a guest at a local chapter meeting, especially if you have a friend you can attend with. Do a lot of listening and not a lot of talking. See if you can determine who are the most likely potential clients and make it a point to meet those people and hand them your card.

Toastmasters and Other Local Groups

Toastmasters (http://www.Toastmasters.org) is a great way to search for aspiring speakers or people who speak during the course of their job. Toastmasters is a non-profit group intended to help members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills, so it is a place many young people and people who just want to get practice public speaking go to do so. There are over 12,800 clubs worldwide, so you will probably find one in your community.

” The mission of our Toastmasters club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.”

Attending the National Speaker’s Association Events

It is easy to spend a lot of money on collateral materials such as key chains, pens and more so avoid that temptation. Business cards, a small poster and maybe a flyer or postcard created from the wording on your web site should be sufficient for you to take and display.

Especially because there are so few speaker’s assistants, consider wearing a button or carrying a bag with the words “Speaker Assistant” or “I am an Speaker’s Assistant” on them. This can be a great conversation starter. If you know who might be in attendance in advance, set up meetings with potential clients to make the best use of your time.

Check out www.VistaPrint.com to buy a limited quantity of postcards (50 to 100) or business cards at a reasonable price. You can also buy a book bag there with your name, logo and contact information to carry with you which will let speakers know what you do.

Partnering with Other Professionals

A very productive way of attracting new speaker clients is to set up official or unofficial partnerships with other speaker’s assistants who have different specialties or partnerships with other industry professionals. This works particularly well for speaker’s assistants who specialize. You can create a network of specialists who can meet the full range of speaker’s needs. It will be important for all of the specialists to be in agreement about such things as to how you will refer clients and how introductions will occur.

As with authors, many publicists and others may not realize that speaker’s assistants are now being professionally trained and people they can count on to help their clients. Make sure they know about you and ask what kinds of clients they are looking for. If you refer clients to them, and do that professionally, you will increase the chance they will refer clients to you.

Consider partnering with the same professionals with joint marketing efforts. Especially if you have a success with a client by partnering, tell the story. Develop a referral list of industry professionals you trust because you know they will do a good job for your clients and because they know how to partner with you.

Marketing Partnerships with Your Speaker Clients

Too many speaker’s assistants forget to use their best source of publicity – their speaker clients. Of course, you will only want to do this with the speaker’s approval, but most are delighted to help you as you have helped them.

Never forget to highlight your clients by showing their books or other products on your web site and make sure that includes a link to where they can be purchased (usually on Amazon or the author’s own web site). If you provide a review of the author’s book on the Amazon page or contribute by commenting on the speaker’s blog posting or give a testimonial on the author’s Facebook page, you will probably have a grateful client for life!

Impress for Success

When someone meets you in person they make judgments about your value in many ways. Fair or not, people want to spend their money wisely and they will take their cue from you about your value. Dressing appropriately for the event and appearing as a serious businessperson increases your chances not only to get a new client, but also to have them pay you what you are worth.

Be Your Best Self

Too many people make the mistake of looking desperate at networking and other meetings and events, as if they have to make a sale there. They go right into sales mode the moment they arrive, running from person to person handing out business cards and giving their sales pitch to anyone who will listen.

The point of attending is to meet and start business relationships with potential clients, not to sign contracts on the spot, so turn off the sales pitch and instead set the goal of learning as much as you can about any speakers in the room. People like others who listen to them, so your best sales opportunities come from compassionate care and listening, not pitching what you do.

Learn to ask questions like, “What is your talk about?” or “Your presentation was so valuable that it made me wonder if you are working on putting that information in products you might be offering as a speaker.” Try to use the gauge of speaking one sentence for every three sentences of the person you want to become a client.

Your Business Card

Your most important marketing tool, other than your own voice, is your business card. A professional business card is essential in helping authors and aspiring authors remember meeting you and being able to call you, sometimes months later.

The card should include your name and contact information as well as the words “Speaker Assistant.” Preferably, the back should be blank so you can write a personal message to the recipient, such as a web site you recommend or the name of a book to read. When you hear the person you are talking to say something about a need or concern, write a resource for them on the back of your card and hand it to them. This is a much better way of handing out cards and much more likely the card will be kept. Resist the temptation to use funny graphics on your business card or other sales material. Simple is much better. Not everyone will share your sense of humor and even if they do, people tend to be more conservative when money is involved. Clients want you to be serious about helping them.

Follow Up is Everything

Even if you make a great first impression, the people you meet will get busy and may forget to call. Plan to follow up with everyone you met and connected with at any event. Make sure the follow up is service oriented and related to what the other person needs, not what you want to sell.

Email is great for initial follow up because it is less intrusive than a telephone call. Mention when you met and indicate you have looked at the recipient’s web site and are impressed with what they do. Mention areas of specialty where you can help them without insulting them. Say, “I’d be delighted to help you develop your media kit,” rather than “I noticed you don’t have much of a media kit and I can help you do a lot better.”

Speakers generally care deeply about the subjects of their expertise, so if you have a personal connection to that topic, make sure and mention that as well.

Being an speaker’s assistant is not about selling. It is about helping people be more productive. In many cases, the people I talk to may be too insecure to talk about their dreams to become a speaker and will call later when we can talk privately. I know I’m providing a valuable service in helping others make their dreams come true, so I will keep going, even when I don’t feel like it in the moment.

At every event, I will strive to get to know at least one individual and his or her goals for a lifetime, even if this person may not become a client.

Next Steps

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