Editor’s Note: Chirag Kulkarni is the founder of Insightfully, a company for customer analytics for social sign.
I get many speaking gigs requests every year. For example, here is one of the emails I got yesterday from a conference organizer.
Pretty cool, huh?
The funniest part? I don’t feel I am anywhere close to some of other speakers on this list, including Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam who was the Former President of India, Ratan Tata who is chairman emeritus of Tata Sons. And these people get speaking gigs left and right.
I love speaking. In fact, to date, I have probably spoken to at least 10 events related to marketing, and entrepreneurship. My first event was when I first started in the business world at the center for advanced professionals (CAPS) to the Accenture management consulting, which was instrumental in the formation of my entrepreneurial career.
It was a lot of fun and something that I would continue to do. I spent a considerable amount of time researching other speaking related events, and even getting invited to speak all over the world from India, Dubai, and even Malta!
But it didn’t start out like that.
I was struggling for quite a while to find speaking gigs and even had a call with Neil Patelto discuss what he does to get speaking gigs. There were two pieces of advice he did give me:
- Blog more
- Connect more
- Help More
And today, I am going to teach you how I got invited to over 25 events by simply adding people to my personal Facebook.
But first, some points to keep in mind:
Most conferences you attend or speak at won’t be worth your time
Being entrepreneurs and business owners we have many opportunities to buy back time by hiring employees, executive assistants, etc. but the last thing you want is to go to a conference, spend time traveling abroad, and not find any benefit.
The reality is, even though speaking is a lot of fun, it can but be extremely tiresome.Especially if the organizers don’t have any experience running conferences.
Of course, you have to start somewhere and speak at small conferences before you can get paid up to $15,000 per gig including travel, accommodation, and food.
Is your business benefiting?
One extremely important thing to remember is unless you are a full-time speaker; you have a business to run. I like to think that at every speaking event I go to, I can fit in some kind of benefit for the businesses I am running.
For example, my talk in the summer at the India Institute of Management- Indore, I had an opportunity to speak to almost 100 people, which may seem small, but almost all of them were sold on Insightfully, and half of them signed up.
Not only this, but we gave Insightfully access to everyone at the conference, which is at least 200 people.
Lastly, there were powerful speakers that can potentially turn into business development deals in the future such as Managing Directors of Multi-Billion Dollar venture capital firms, fast going startups and even CEO’s of huge companies like Infosys.
Be careful about Facebook’s limits
Facebook restricts a number of people that you can add on Facebook. For example, if you add people too quickly, Facebook will block you temporarily.
Similarly, if you add people and the people that you added say they don’t know you, you might get temporarily banned on Facebook for 48 hours for adding friends. Just be mindful.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get into it how adding people on Facebook can amount to speaking opportunities and generate revenue for your business.
1. Find people who are prominent in the space you are in and get speaking gigs
Depending on your area of expertise, you should find the right person that you can target.
A very easy way to find exactly who that person would be is from a conference website. For example, I looked up Startup Istanbul.
If you want to speak at a conference, these are the types of people that you should target. An easy way to manage this is to create a list of every prominent startup entrepreneurs that speaks.
The important part is to find people that actually speak at conferences that you could speak at, not anomalies that are hard to reach. An example of an entrepreneur who I would consider an anomaly would be Jack Welsh because even though he is an incredibly successful entrepreneur, he is not a regular speaker that will speak at events you can speak at.
The rule of thumb I like to use is to find people that are somewhat accessible by either 2nd or 3rd-degree connections.
2. Look those people up on Facebook and “friend” them
Once you have found that person, the next step is to add them on Facebook. In this case, I’m going to try to add Dave McClure, but there is an ample list of people that fit this category.
This may seem hard at first because they may have thousands or people that follow them, and unfortunately, Facebook caps friend limits at 5000 people.
If you can’t add them, try helping them in some way. Look through their social feeds, and try to find exact opportunities that you can help that individual.
For example, I helped Arianna Huffington by noticing that she is doing a book launch and offered to help spread the word in Boston at Northeastern University. Luckily me helping Arianna led to her inviting me to the Huff Post Arabi Launch, and meeting a few executives at Al Jazeera and Visa.
Even if you can friend them, you should still figure out how to help them. Who knows, you may be able to help someone who is considered extremely influential, and they may refer you directly to that speaking event that they can’t attend.
3. Discover who engages with them
So, once you have added Dave McClure to your Facebook, the next step is to figure out who engages with him the most. This may seem extremely complicated because there isn’t technology that allows you to do this on Facebook, but if you spend some time observing the people who like, comment, or engage with a person, it becomes fairly easy to do.
The best way to do this is to look at their most engaged Facebook posts, or better yet, posts where they speak at events. For example, check out this picture of Dave with Jack Ma of Alibaba.
What you should do is scroll through and figure out who are influencers or people that also get the most gigs or response from the influencer (in this case Dave).
Those are the best people to add.
4. Add them
Depending on whether you already have added friends in the startup space before, you can go through and add those. An easy way to look through this is to identify whether certain people have mutual friends with you or not.
The best chances are there is someone in those comments that comments “thanks so much for being there” or “thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!”
This is exactly what happened on Neil’s photo at a recent conference he spoke at.
Chances are, there is someone who has commented who is a conference organizer thanking the speaker for speaking, etc.
5. Introduce yourself to your new friends
Just because this is the web doesn’t mean you should just add people and let them hanging! With every person I personally add, I try to reach out to introduce myself andask how I can be helpful. Best case, they do business with you, and worst case, you have a person with a certain expertise you can go to for in the future.
Pro tip: For influencers be careful not to send just messages on Facebook. Most of these individuals get inundated with messages and it may be harder to build a long lasting relationship with them. My suggestion is to casually reach out on Facebook, but then offer to jump on a call and see how you can help them.
Here’s an example of an influencer who I added using this technique who I later reached out to on Facebook messenger and email. Keep in mind he speaks at multiple conferences all over the world and runs a multiple million dollar companies.
I had a great call with him and even got a quote for him in my next Inc article which he was extremely grateful for. After our discussion, I got this response from him.
In literally 30 minutes he introduced me to a few conference organizers and I was off to my next speaking gig!
But keep in mind, this doesn’t happen every time. For every 10 people, I have this conversation with I get about 2 people that introduce me to events they can’t attend.
6. Use content to engage your new friends
Most of the people you are adding are going to be fantastic people, but how do you play the long game with them?
That’s where I like to give an analogy similar to email marketing. Most bloggers know that the list is everything. Similarly, I like to say that engaging content with friends on Facebook is the key to getting speaking gigs. This is why I use Feedly and Buffer to schedule 4-5 of the most helpful articles to share with my new friends.
When you open your Feedly account, you will get the opportunity to add topics that are relevant to what you do. In my case, I add topics such as Brand Marketing, Social Media Marketing, SEO, Content Marketing, and Inbound Marketing. Here’s an example of an article that came up in my feedly feed.
Once you have found an article you like, click it and select the icon on the right and select the client you are going to use to publish the article.
I suggest buying the premium version of Feedly because you will be able to use other products like IFTT (If This Than That) to schedule tweets automatically from Feedly that are “saved” straight to your Buffer. That means all you need to do is save the articles you want in Feedly and IFTT will automatically go and tweet them using Buffer at the times you want!
To set up this integration, go to IFTT.com, create an account, and type in “Buffer” in the search box. Scroll down and you will find the integration between Buffer and Feedly.
Using this integration you will get articles that are interesting sent straight to your buffer and posted on your facebook account.
Remember, people want to be associated with individuals that are constantly posting interesting useful content, and using this technique is a fantastic way to do that.
The power of Facebook comes from refining and distributing content directly to your friends. I love asking the people that call me to speak at events, how they heard about me, and almost every single one says “we’ve been following you on Facebook for 2 months, and you post interesting links, and content constantly”.
That’s amazing to me, and something all entrepreneurs can leverage if they are strategic about adding people.
How do you get speaking gigs?
This post was originally published on Chirag Kulkarni’s blog.