Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Building a Speaking Platform part 2-What's Networking Got To Do With It?

Angie here:

Networking is how you get your speaking events. People have to trust you to have you come into their inner sanctum, the people they protect fiercely. The people that schedule you to speak to their groups need to know that you can not only deliver an entertaining or enlightening message, but that they can trust your behavior and professionalism.

How do you think they build the trust in you?

Trust is built on referrals. If no one has heard you speak, they can't refer you. This is one reason to start in your local area first. You can ask to speak in groups where you already know a member who knows you well enough to either request you or to refer you for the opportunity.

In these local events, more people have the chance to build trust by hearing what you have to say. There's saying, "The purpose of a meeting is to book another meeting." It's very true in the case of public speaking. Now obviously you are there to deliver the message you promised. But it's important to take the time to get to know the listeners. Ask for a referral letter or endorsement afterward. Tell people you love to speak and would love to share if anyone knows of a group needing speakers.

Build the resume' by speaking as often as possible in your local area and then branch out from there. Many weekly or monthly clubs actually struggle to find speakers. You'll likely be speaking for free in the beginning, but that's equal to a writer offering free articles to get clippings on their resume'. You have to prove yourself in this field too. It feels slow at first, but remember you are building trust into your resume'.

I started by joining Toastmasters and then asking that group for other groups. I've spoken to groups like the Lion's Club, Go Red for Women, women's retreats, other churches, a local retirement home, a new moms group, and then began to travel.

I know public speaking is one of the great fears, but when you tackle it in a safe place like Toastmasters, it becomes much less a fear as you build confidence and skill. But you'll never build a speaking platform without those friends you meet along the way. Word of mouth isn't just the best selling tool, it's also how you build trust. Be sure not to mistreat that network of friends. Give back whenever possible. Say yes to helping those friends too. Networking isn't a one way street.

I actually dislike the word "networking" because of the misuse I've seen with it. I prefer building friendships and bridges. Bridges can be crossed from either direction. One of my favorite things to do is introduce a friend to another. I especially love connecting people who need each other's abilities and services. It's just plain fun to see the dawning in their faces as the conversation takes off.

I've never been asked to speak in a group that didn't have some connection to another group I've either spoken to or been a member. I connected those dots and recognized the very important picture of relationship.

So as you network, be aware of helping other people connect the dots too. Honor the gift they are giving you by returning the favor if it's in your power. Realize that the speaking world is built on real relationships just like any other business. Those that are not real will dissolve and disappoint. Resolve to be real and earn the trust that will build your platform as you help others with their dreams too.

Building a speaking platform part 1.

Angela Breidenbach


  1. Angie, thanks for sharing your expertise in this area. I am one who intensely dislikes public speaking. It's amazing because I can teach an entire roomful of teens without a lesson plan, but I quake in my boots at the thought of addressing a group of peers.

    Several years ago, when I went back to work, I despaired somewhat because after spending 11 years homeschooling my kids I had lost that time to build working relationships that could've pushed my career forward. God quickly showed me how wrong that fear was! Within the first year, I realized that during those 11 years He had networked me in ways I'd never considered. And, I've seen His hand in the opporutnities that have been afforded me in the 5 years I've been back in the public school system.

    So, I can testify that God will provide those relationships/bridges/networks for anyone who asks. Just be aware that He often gives more than you ask for, but never more than you can bear.

  2. This is so true! Both the fear of speaking and the way to build a network of friends. I did the same. I went and did the mom thing for 25 years and then had to figure out who I was. In Toastmasters, the group is usually small and supportive. They really helped me overcome my fears. I still get a rush of adrenaline before speaking, some people mistake this as fear that stops them from speaking in public, but it's really energy to use to speak. Tap into it and it's surprising how well it works. God knows what he's doing when he provides these physical elements.

    And yes, sometimes the blessings come in a rush. It's so funny that we build and build toward those blessings and then we're surprised at how they come, lol.

    I'm following good advice and taking things one at a time, breathe, take one more thing :-)

    Thanks, Dianna.

  3. Hi Angie:

    You are so right about how fast speaking engagements can materialize.

    Think about it: you can get more than one future speaking engagement in one given group and you can get it more than one time. This multiplier effect can happen with each group you speak to and since some members of groups are also members of other groups, future speaking engagements can get out of hand very quickly. While it can be slow getting things started, once things click you’ll be working on ways to turn down speaking engagements in the most diplomatic manner possible.

    I found the key to success here is knowing the group you are going to speak to and knowing exactly how many minutes you are allowed to talk. Going over time limits is the best way of never being asked back again. Also, always be ready to change your speech. A doctor told me once that he thought he was giving a talk to other doctors and so he told a few jokes about nurses that doctors would find entertaining. Actually he was speaking to nurses. I’m sure he was never asked back!

    I love this series. Is there going to be a part III? How about ‘Leveraging Success’?