How Speakers Can Start Working With Bureaus
The awesome people who work in speaker bureaus are even busier than the amazing people who organise conferences and events.
Constantly pulled from pillar to post, balancing the needs of 147 clients all at once.
So you can’t just drop them an email introducing yourself and telling them how wonderful you are and expect to be flooded with enquiries.
Here is my list of things that have helped me turn bureau reps from faceless emails into lovely people I have a great working relationship with, and some of them have even become friends.
1. Wait Till You’re Ready
All the bureau people I spoke to for this blog said speakers need to wait till they are truly ready before getting in front of them, because “first impressions count.”
If you look too raw and inexperienced, and obviously haven't really done many speaking events, that lack of trust in your abilities will nag away at them for years.
So please please please don’t do three 15 minute presentations to rooms with 11 people in them then decide you can put the words "international speaker" on your LinkedIn profile and do the rounds of all the bureaus in town.
I was very lucky in that I’d been a full time stand-up comic for 10 years when I started speaking about resilience tips contained in my What I Wish I Knew book series, so bureau people knew they could trust my on-stage product.
But if you don't "have the chops" yet, do what the awesome Chris Helder did in Australia. When he was starting out he did 50 speeches in 50 days – mostly unpaid – just to make sure he was ready enough before approaching bureaus.
2. Meet Them Personally
It’s very basic sales training we buy from people we know, like, and trust. Every single Speaker Bureau representative that I get regular work from – and by this I mean more than three gigs per year – is somebody I’ve met for a cup of coffee or turned up at their offices with my wife’s awesome home made muffins and a bottle of champagne for Friday night drinks.
I don’t know how some speakers can whine about not getting enough attention from people that have never even spoken to on the phone, let alone gone and said hello to.
And the great thing is our work takes us all around the country, and all around the world. So keep a list of all the bureau people you haven’t met yet, or want to meet, and crosscheck it against your upcoming diary.
3. Be Humble
Remember these people are some of the busiest sentient beings in the known galaxy, so if they’re taking time out of their day when they could be answering the 347 emails in their inbox to spend time with you, don’t be in a-hole when you turn up.
And don’t stride into the bureau office and bombard them with how freakin awesome you are.
Sure you have to get across why you are different and worth a punt, but keep coming back to the question “How can I help you?” Make sure they see that you are willing to be their MVP.
The best compliment I have got from the head of one of the biggest bureaus in Australia was when they said in front of a room full of clients "Marty Wilson is professional, funny, has awes0ke content, and is incredibly user-friendly.”
Many bureaux people have said to me that if it comes down to a choice between me and someone else who speaks about resilience and change, if that other person is a total pain to work with they will push me every time.
Can you imagine how much that is added to my bottom line over five years?
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