[Q & A] Do speakers need to join the association(s) for their target audience?
During a recent coaching call with a future professional speaker, I was asked a great question that sparked lengthy discussion.
The question was:
Do speakers need to join the association(s) of their target audience?
Need to? No. Should they? Absolutely.
First of all, professional speakers have target audiences. And by "professional speaker" I mean consistently PAID speakers who have a full-time business in speaking.
I've written blogs several times about the importance of speakers identifying the "right" target audience. I highly, highly recommend you read some of those blogs because speakers starting off or looking to grow their business must have a target audience.
I've included specific links for those posts here at the bottom.
With no doubt in my mind, the right target audience/industry will have lucrative associations that belong to it. Usually there are 1-2 prominent associations which stand out and are best. When I'm working with a coaching client, I not only help them determine the right target industry, but just as important I help them figure out which association, or associations, they should focus on. Usually I'm helping them rule out the associations that aren't a good choice to find the one which IS.
In my opinion, and "speaking" solely from my personal experience and experience coaching dozens of speakers, the right association will have (1) structure and (2) events. If it doesn't have what I call a "state structure" or "events" then I tell my coaching clients it's not the right association. And so far, knock on stage, I've never been wrong.
Selecting the right association is challenging and can be quite frustrating, but an aspiring speaker will be even more frustrated when they don't find enough speaking opportunities - let alone the ones that can actually pay.
Most speakers I talk with are frustrated and overwhelmed because they either don't have a target association OR they are chasing one that can't pay them. If you fit into either category, or both, it's time to really assess, or reassess, and focus on your strategy for selecting your target industry and association. And if you're not getting results, then reach out for some help.
Let me help. I recommend you schedule a complimentary call with me to explore this. You don't have to continue doing this by all yourself and trying to figure it all out alone. (link to schedule a call at bottom of this post)
So assuming you have a target audience that is proven with structure and events, do you need to be a member of that association?
The answer is no. You don't need to, but depending on where you are at in your speaking business, joining that association should really, really help you.
For example, when I first started speaking professionally, I focused on SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. I had decent success getting speaking engagements from SHRM groups but it was mediocre at best.
But then I joined SHRM (paid $150/year) and I remember several SHRM groups that booked me to speak were pleasantly surprised that I was a member. Of course, I emphasized this on my outreach to them!
After speaking to several SHRM chapters and state conferences (Module 3 in my book outlines how I got 11 keynotes in 6 months!), I felt that being a member of the association was extremely helpful and providing valuable ROI. So beyond just joining SHRM nationally, I also joined my local SHRM chapter. This helped me engage with other local SHRM members and my speaking business benefited from building relationships with them tremendously. Within one year, I was asked to be on the Board. Six months after that I was President Elect for my chapter!
So did I need to be a member of SHRM in order to start speaking to SHRM groups? No.
Did it help me and my speaking business once I did join? Abso-freakin' lutely!
Another benefit of being a member of your target association is that you'll be exposed to the current trends and issues that confront them. You'll know first-hand what their problems are which will help you solidify your speech to help them solve those challenges. Make sense?
** Whether or not you are an association member of your target group, you need to have experience and relevant content in your speech that will provide value for them. A speaker starting off can't just pick an association that sounds good or that they know pays well if they don't have speech content relevant and valuable for that audience.
I'm constantly seeing speakers not understand this point just mentioned. So my advice to you is be very clear "why" you are selecting your target industry and association. Meeting planners will expect deliverables from you. (Read my recent post titled, "3 deliverables meeting planners expect")
Similar to SHRM, I followed the same process with MPI, Meeting Professionals International. I benefited from having the same result as well. MPI groups have also booked me to speak all over the country. In fact, this November, I'm speaking to a group of meeting planners in Cancun! (tough job I know)
So look, I've shared a lot of information in this blog. Don't feel overwhelmed. It's a lot to take in. But if you're serious about building your speaking business NOW and hoping to have a different result in 2020 for your speaking, then isn't it important that you know this?
When I started speaking, I didn't know what I've just shared with you. If I did, it could have cut out years of frustration and years of me dabbling in speaking. I didn't know what I didn't know. So if you are one of those people serious about taking your speaking to the next level and earning PAID, consistent bookings, then let's explore how my 5-step process will help you.
See the images below to schedule a complimentary call with me to talk more about your speaking goals and explore how to customize a coaching program that fits your needs. Just like every speech, I work with budgets and I customize accordingly pending your timeframe and objectives. I can even send you a sample coaching program template so you see everything that's included.
As promised, several of my recent blog articles are below which will help you identify and select the right target industry and association: