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Getting Clients

Five Ways to Make Speaking Engagements Pay Off

By Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Let’s say you’ve been invited to speak — in person — at the annual meeting of a group of not-for-profits. Specifically, your audience want to know what, if anything, they should be worrying about relative to your specialty — say trademarks and brands. Easy-peasy.

You do the research to get up to date on current developments, get a little help pulling together slides and then pin on that name tag and hit the podium with enthusiasm. This is your area of expertise. You could do this in your sleep, right? Then, when you step away from the podium, you file your notes, toss your name tag and feel grateful that’s done so you can get back to the “real work.” Stop right there.

It’s a huge waste to do the work to give a speech and leave it at that.

Multiply Your Speaking Engagement’s Marketing Impact

Here are five more things you can do that might just double or triple (even quintuple?) your speaking engagement’s marketing impact.

1. Write and publish the article.

You’ve done the research. You’ve created some good visuals. You’ve even tested your material before a crowd of potential clients who helped you punch it up by asking questions that revealed the hottest buttons for that crowd. All you need is an hour or two to turn those spoken words into a written piece — and find someone interested in publishing it. (The publication produced by the group inviting you to speak should be your first contact.)

2. Give the speech somewhere else.

Again, you’ve done the prep work, so why not identify another group interested in the same issues? There are a handful of ways to do this. First, check with the people who invited you to the first event and ask if they know of others. If you did a good job — and of course you did — they will be eager to recommend you. Next, consider how your speech might be tweaked to appeal to a slightly different audience. Would the chamber of commerce like you to speak to small business owners about the “Top 10 Intellectual Property Worries for Small Businesses”? And unless all of the other lawyers in your firm are IP lawyers, make sure to share an informal version of the speech with your colleagues over a box lunch. They need to know what their clients should be worrying about so they can cross-sell your services! (If they are all IP lawyers, share your slides and notes so they can make a similar speech.)

3. Repurpose it as a blog post or video (or both).

Even if it’s not your personal blog — perhaps it’s the firm’s, or the chamber’s, or even a national blog for nonprofit leaders — don’t miss the opportunity to share what you know and demonstrate your ability to make complex legal issues understandable. In case you’re wondering, yes, the blog post differs from the article you are writing for a publication in No. 1. It’s shorter and more colloquial and filled with bullets and lists. And you want to place a link or two in your blog post that will take a reader right to your firm bio or landing page and the online version of the bigger, more informative article, too.

And why not create a highlights video for YouTube and share it on all your social media channels? You could also break down key points for a short-form video on TikTok. If you don’t already have a YouTube channel or TikTok, this could be the motivation you need to start.

4. Throw your own party.

By now, you have a pocketful of business cards from people who saw you speak, are interested in learning more and want to make a personal connection. Invite them to join you — and some of your partners’ hand-selected clients — for a Friday afternoon wine and cheese networking event in your conference room. Don’t give a speech (though you might ask someone else, one of your clients, perhaps, to say a few words). This is just some end-of-the-week conviviality and an opportunity for participants to share notes with others in their position. Make sure there’s something for them to take away when they leave. Oh wait … you’ve printed out copies of that article you published (with your firm logo and contact information), haven’t you?

5. Package it.

Sure, someone can attend one of your speeches and read the article. But once you’ve called out the top 10 worries, does that give them the expertise to determine whether their organization is safe? Of course not. That’s why they need your help. But nonprofits don’t have a lot of money to toss around, so you need to package that help in a way they can afford. Perhaps you train a junior (and therefore less-expensive) lawyer or a senior paralegal to visit their office and conduct an IP inventory using the detailed checklist you have prepared — for a flat fee. Perhaps you automate a questionnaire they can complete themselves on your website. Once they pass the inventory test, they will sleep better at night. If they don’t pass the test and serious issues are exposed … that’s when they need to hire you.

Now giving a speech was worth the time and effort. And those five ideas are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to leveraging the hard work you put into that speech.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com. 0914

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Merrilyn Astin Tarlton Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

Merrilyn is the author of “Getting Clients: For Lawyers Starting Out or Starting Over.” She has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She is a founding member of the Legal Marketing Association, an LMA Hall of Fame inductee, and a past President of the College of Law Practice Management. Merrilyn was a founding partner of Attorney at Work. 

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