Leveraging Speaking Engagements to Establish Your Show as a Thought Leader

We’re all out here doing our thing and striving to be the best at it. We want to be the leader of the pack, the show stopper, the cat’s meow. But how do we do it?

Position your show as a thought leader

You already know it’s important to actively build and establish your niche or certain something that makes you and your brand stand out and shine a little brighter than the competition.

It might seem easier said than done, but you can do it.

Start small

Instead of spending a bunch of money on expensive sponsorships at a show, seek out speaking opportunities. This gives your brand a face. Get out there and talk about what you do and what you know.

Relax! Make it fun and entertaining and people will remember you. If people like you and your message, they’ll talk about it. That’s where the grapevine starts.

Share your insight

Don’t be afraid to contact show managers in your industry to see if they have any open time slots for speakers at an upcoming show. Think of this as a collaborative working relationship. You’re not out there to upstage the stage, you’re out there to share your voice.

There’s a time and a place for competition and this isn’t one of them. Look for shows that your brand would fit well into. You don’t want to step on any toes by obnoxiously parading your show to onlookers, either.

Be subtle.

Much like when a bridesmaid steals the spotlight from the bride on her special day. You don’t want to risk anyone going to bridezilla on you, or in this case, showzilla.

Be easy to work with.

Every time you put yourself out there you’re making an impact. If you’re courteous and easy to work with, word gets around. If you’re not, word gets around. Be respectful and stay true to your brand. It’s always, always, ALWAYS about the brand. Period.

Recognition in this industry is everything.

You want people to see you as a familiar personality. Think about this for a sec: When I suggested you reach out to show managers to ask about speaking opportunities, you immediately thought about an upcoming show you’d love to speak at.

What made you think of that show?

You’ve probably heard of the show manager before. You know they put on a professional, insightful show. People talked about it, word spread, and at some point their words got to you. Their message is spot on, they put on a tight show, and there’s buzz about it. All that buzz fosters credibility and the show is viewed as a reputable place to be.

Think about original ways you can create some buzz.

Trade Services

Consider doing a trade of services. You don’t have to exhibit in order to lead a conference. Even if you have to pay for the service, it will go much farther than dumping your money into a fancy banner or signage that may look great but isn’t so useful when it comes to generating and tracking leads.

Teach Others

Look for teaching opportunities through colleges or certification programs. Once you obtain your CEM certification in trade shows, you can teach a CEM course. Let the classroom be your stage as you dazzle students with your firsthand knowledge and expertise. Not only will they be willing and eager to learn from you, but they will also look up to you as a motivational leader.

Capitalize on every opportunity to promote your show and your brand.

Start Creating

Look, I know you want to be taken seriously and get invited to speak at events, but in the beginning you’ll be working hard at getting noticed, and that means asking for the invite for now. Another outlet to lend your voice is by creating content, and lots of it. Start a blog series, a podcast, or start a YouTube channel and post some short videos.

Branding yourself from the very beginning will pay off big time in the end.

Consistency is key here and a little hard work will go a long way. Stay focused and true to your brand. Otherwise, your content will have little impact.

Create content on a regular basis and people will take notice. Once you gain enough exposure to people in your niche, they start viewing you as an expert voice who has awesome things to say. You can leverage that very same audience to help promote your show.

And BOOM! You’re a thought leader. *Drops Mic*

I’m kidding! Pick your mic back up. It’s easy, but not THAT easy.

Your show is the by-product of your thought leadership, so while it’s important to make it memorable, it’s also important to never lose sight of what makes it unique and special, and that’s you.

It’s important be on trend or ahead of the trends for your industry – at all times.

There’s no rest for:

* The Wicked

* Parents of Toddlers

* Show Managers

You will always continue to grow with your brand, find new and exciting ways to spread the word, and come up with new ideas to share. Those who stay at the top are constantly evolving and finding innovative ways to talk about the same topics.

Create opportunities by reaching out to others in the industry for support. Nobody gets to the top alone.

The same goes for other thought leaders we’ve come to admire and view as experts in their field such as Gloria Steinem, Dave Ramsey, and Sheryl Sandberg. They too had to start at the bottom, work hard to be heard, and find their way to the top.

Do you think Oprah just woke up one day with a hit talk show and her own television network?

You know better than that.