One of the membership perks of my online public speaking club, MicDrop, is access to a regularly updated list of conferences that are actively looking for speakers.
Super useful - in theory...
While having a list of active speaking opportunities at their fingertips will undoubtedly save a load of time, members will still have to apply to speak. And their chances of getting through the first round will depend not just on the quality of the application they submit.
Here is a question that I've taken from a current thought leadership event that's looking for speakers:
How would you answer that question?
Posting your business website/portfolio might tell a curator that you don't just talk the talk, but it won't necessarily tell me much about you or what you stand for. What's more, given that's what everyone else will post, it's hardly going to differentiate you.
And what if you don't have a website or a portfolio to share?
This is where what I believe to be a critical thought leadership habit comes in...
Post your own content regularly
Is thought leadership anything more than a pretentious term for content creation anyway?!
The more you create the better you get. Committing to a consistent content habit (mine is 3x per week on LinkedIn) forces you to be creative. It teaches you to find the interesting in the ordinary and challenges you to communicate it in a way that maximises engagement (and make no mistake, that is the aim of the game).
You will discover your leadership voice. Every time you click 'post' you're making a conscious decision to put yourself out there. It feels uncomfortable at first, but that quickly fades. (Partly because you realise that no matter how good you get, reading your posts will never make your audience's priority list, let alone be at the top of it!). Don't do it for them, do it for you!
And realise that it is ok to voice an opinion. Challenge your audience. Spark debate. Have the courage to say what you think. Get off the fence sit on the fence. Push the Overton Window.
Every post is an experiment. At least 4 of the articles I've written in this blog were really for the purpose of testing content for my book. It's helped me to learn what works and what doesn't. Personally, I ignore the number of likes (whilst very much appreciating them 😉), but have learned a huge amount from shares and comments.
Increase your chances of landing a big stage presentation. And not just for the aforementioned reason. Some clients of mine posted a blog a few months back and landed a speaking engagement at Fast Company's summit because it was seen by the curator. I have several of these stories for TEDx talks.
Hack: If you have a list of events you want to speak at, find the curators of these events and add them on LinkedIn (and please don't send them a crappy message)! Over time, they might notice your content. Worst case, they'll recognise your name when you apply. Best case, you won't have to apply at all. Simple, but effective.
One final point to note... Never outsource your social media content!
I’m seeing more and more of this on my own newsfeed (and am becoming increasingly well acquainted with the unfollow button)! I get why people do it, but while they say they're too busy, the truth is it's just not enough of a priority for them to put the time in. Not the kind of attitude that will make event curators - their whole job is to about putting the audience first. So every time you post, show you're doing just that. No laziness. No ego. Instead, interesting, thought-provoking posts that add value.
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