Let’s first look at how to create ideas that matter.
It’s one thing to be the expert in the eyes of your colleagues or clients. To them, you’re a legend. You know all that stuff they don’t and they pay you for it too. But a couple of thousand other people know the same stuff as you and are also blogging about it, putting it in their newsletters and calling themselves experts. Do their ideas matter? Do yours? Are any of you leading thinkers or thought leaders? Chances are you’re all displaying technical knowledge, but how many are taking it that step further?
I’d hazard a guess that out of 50 people in a room who all do your job, 40 are really good at it (experts), 10 are beginners, but only one in 50 is a leading thinker whose ideas matter. This is the person who will get the speaking gig.
A leading thinker is someone who can apply his or her wisdom and experience and speak more broadly about society or the industry. They should be able to discuss trends, and perhaps the social implications of these trends. For example, they might be able to predict the effects of digital technology on the industry or how the industry is taking new directions due to an ageing population.
I call this becoming a commentator. Others call it thought leadership. It’s above and beyond your technical observations and ability. In my article “How to get your expert opinions flowing”, I provided some questions that are a great starting point for anyone who wants to develop their own commentary.
Once you have some ideas that matter you’ll want to share them widely, which will help you become recognised as a leading thinker. This involves using social media, having an up-to-date website that clearly demonstrates your credibility and authority, and regular communication such as an enewsletter that leverages (not spams) your networks and affiliations.
Review your business strategy, marketing plan and writing themes; make sure you know which part of the ‘speaking gigs’ market they point you towards. You might begin by running your own events: breakfast briefings, master classes, invitation-only special events.
Once you can tick the boxes above, your unsolicited approach to a conference organiser will start looking good. Gee – you might get the invitation without even asking!
What are your tips for getting speaking gigs?