This week's focus:
A speakers bureau can be a great source of new speaking engagements. However, most reputable bureaus only work with popular, in-demand authors and leaders. If you're new to the speaking profession and relatively unknown, you will find it hard to get on their roster. These organizations tend to gravitate towards bestselling authors, well-known athletes, celebrities, and active politicians.
The best way to get the attention of a particular bureau is by showing how your message is different from any other speaker they represent. If you know a speaker who is already on their roster, ask that person to make an introduction for you. Schedule a meet-and-greet by phone or in-person and give several examples of the results you've produced for audiences in the past. Be prepared to provide a top-notch video demo and several testimonials from nationally-known leaders.
Some authors mistakenly believe that speakers bureaus do all of the marketing legwork and magically setup a ton of new engagements. This is a big misconception, because bureaus usually promote just their top tier speakers and let the lower level speakers fend for themselves. If you're not a big-time personality, you will be lucky to get a promotional spot in their annual catalog mailing and a mention on their company website.
The benefit of speakers bureaus is that they can get authors access to high-profile events due to behind-the-scenes connections. Bureau agents work hard to build relationships with event planners and trade show directors. These relationships pay off as the event director contracts their speaker needs to the bureau. When the bureau receives a request, they will recommend you if you're considered the right fit for the event.
The price of working with a speakers bureau is the 15% - 20% commission they take from your speaking fee. Therefore, I don't recommend that authors work with bureaus unless you're so busy that you need someone for administrative help. If you do go with a bureau, never sign an exclusive arrangement. Always keep your options open to be represented by several bureaus at the same time.
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