If you’re an attorney, chances are you’ve more than likely had to attend various continuing legal education courses in order to maintain an active license and to further your legal education after law school. However, what if in addition to attending these events, you also wanted to raise the visibility of your law firm by speaking at the event?
As speaking opportunities for lawyers can be a major marketing pull in terms of public relations and business development, it is essential to have at least a few attorneys at your firm speak in addition to attending these events. With so many legal industry events out there to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which is the right fit for you and your law firm.
The Benefits of Public Speaking Engagements
Before we get into how to assess speaking opportunities, it’s important to understand the benefits that come with being a speaker:
- A chance to build connections: Speaking engagements put you in front of key decision-makers and influencers in the legal field and other industries. This gives you the opportunity to interact with potential clients and colleagues face-to-face.
- Position yourself as a thought leader: In order to further build your repertoire as a leader in your area of practice, you need to be regularly visible, sharing your knowledge with others. Speaking opportunities allow you to demonstrate your expertise by delivering valuable content, which further positions you as a thought leader.
- Increase your visibility after the presentation: Your presentation provides additional value once you’ve left the podium. This is because you can share snippets and insights on social media, as well as have it listed on your directory listings and law firm website biography. This makes your content available to a wider audience.
Finding Speaking Opportunities
Finding and securing the right speaking opportunities may seem like a simple task, but it’s not. A lot of planning goes into events, and while you may think you’re the perfect fit as a presenter, the person in charge of selecting speakers might have a different idea.
When looking into potential speaking gigs, the first thing you’ll need to determine is whether the audience that will be attending the event is within your target demographic. Speaking opportunities are all about increasing visibility for you and your brand so you can cultivate new leads, and the right audience is absolutely paramount to achieving this goal. Consider the type of audience you want to attract and pick your events accordingly. If the attendees will not be potential clients, people who can link you to future clients, or those who would be important to network with, then it just isn’t worth your time. While speaking at American Bar Association (ABA) events and other CLE meetings wont necessarily help you to connect with industry CEOs, these events are perfect for targeting referral sources and making and maintaining valuable legal industry connections.
Next, take the time to research. It’s important to be strategic and selective during this process if you want your message to translate in a big way. If you wind up speaking at a conference you took the time and effort to research the ins and outs of, there is much more than just your time on stage to consider. You’ll likely have more opportunities to meet and mingle, pursue one-on-one meetings, and find different networks you may not have had access to previously.
Lastly, you’ll make the event selection. There are many venues where one can speak, whether these are big or small, and each event can have a big impact. In many cases, starting small can prove helpful to breaking into larger scale, more competitive events.
Attaching yourself to local Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, state bar groups, and similar organizations can help you become more visible within your community, thus leading you to national conferences and conventions which offer the chance to gain visibility in front of leading decision makers. If you’re getting tired of engaging in attorney focused events and organizations, the American Bar Association suggests joining various non-profit organizations or to get creative. Try regularly volunteering at your favorite charity, taking a drawing class, or joining a local sports league.
How To Land a Speaking Gig
Now that we’ve outlined the steps to take in order to select the right event, it’s time to get that coveted speaking position. This is the most difficult task, as many organizations find their speakers well in advance, so it’s important to have that in mind and not simply reach out the month prior to a big event.
When talking to the event organizers, potential speakers are often asked if they have attended the event in the past as a participant. Event organizers want to ensure you are invested in the subject matter and care about the overall event, not only the opportunity to speak. Being a participant first gives you the chance to see who has spoken before, meet and get to know the organizers of the event, as well as determine who makes the speaker selections for the following year.
Next, make sure the topic you have in mind is of interest to the event’s organizers and is a trending topic in your field. Speakers who offer presentations on trending topics are more likely to be chosen, as timely and provocative issues are attractive to attendees. When you submit your topic to the event organizers, be sure to include information that helps not only you, but that makes your topic stand out from the crowd.
If you aren’t already blogging or contributing to a blog you’ll want to start. Those who already write about issues related to their practice consistently and intelligently will, over time, be regarded as thought leaders. If you establish yourself as a vital and unique voice within your practice area, the speaking opportunities will be a lot easier to come by.
Finally, and most importantly, be persistent. More often than not, attorneys think their work is complete once they write up an abstract, contact the event organizer, and turn in a speaker submission. This is not the case. Following up and being persistent can mean the difference between getting selected to speak or having your topic moved to the bottom of the list. A simple phone call a week or so after you send in your speaker proposal can ensure you won’t be forgotten. In the event the speaker has already been chosen, ask about other opportunities they might have coming up and about next year’s event.
NEED MORE HELP?
In the event you’re still not finding the right speaking opportunity for you, or you don’t have time to look, the marketing professionals at Stacey E Burke, P.C. can help. We have a multitude of experience in law firm business development, including assisting attorneys with finding new and exciting events at which to both attend and present. Contact us and get started on your path to determining which event is the right fit for you and your law firm.