In my previous column, I offered new and innovative ways to promote your business and services. Here are a few more tips to consider"?¦.
The spoken word"?¦
Become a professional speaker. Contact the (SBA) Small Business Administration and the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) in your area or go to WWW.SBA.COM for a list of offices throughout the US to book speaking engagements as an expert in your field. Both organizations are excellent forums for promoting your work to a targeted audience and are always looking for speakers who are experts in their field. If you decide to call the office directly (you´ll get a faster response than e-mailing or writing a letter) ask for the person in charge of booking instructors or new classes. It´s usually the director or assistant director. The contact person will request info on your company and a breakdown of what type of class you´d like to teach. What I like about these classes is the number of attendees that show up (around 30 per class) and the thirst for knowledge. The attendees of these workshops show up because they are specifically interested in your expertise. There are a few caveats however. While you can discuss your work and services (briefly) both organizations frown on selling merchandise or promoting your firm too much. Here´s a rule of thumb. Don´t mention your firm or services more than twice per class. The attendees are there for your expertise, not a sales pitch. You can however discuss your work after the class and attendees will usually want to contact you anyway. Be sure to bring lots of company info, business cards etc to hand out and make sure you collect cards from attendees to send info to them about your services or future programs. Again you will be booked for these classes only once per quarter per office but here´s where it gets fun and really profitable. If you book yourself in one office, other offices will soon follow suit. But you´ll need to call them directly to let them know that you are teaching at XYZ office. Directors of these offices love hearing of programs that have become successful which they currently aren´t offering. Their goal is to bring in as many successful programs as possible so they´ll be open to new ideas. Lastly, while SBA does not pay its contractors; SBDC sometimes will (usually anywhere from $50-$125 per hour but it depends which office you contact, if they have a budget etc) but you should check with SBDC to see if they are open to it. Even if they won´t (or can´t) pay you, it´s still good exposure to teach a class through them. You never know who will be attending and what services they need (I get a lot of my clients from these sessions).Again, either organization will welcome suggestions for new classes and are likely to book you every quarter if the classes are successful. (I am currently booked at over 10 Northern California SBA/SBDC offices and 1 Chicago office over the next several months and it´s one of the best business opportunities I´ve developed over the last 20 years.) This means that you will need to do some PR (posting on Craigslist.org, e-mail and direct mail).The good news is that both SBA/SBDC have mailing list and publish a widely read calendar (on line and printed) of all classes, so you won´t need to do much in the way of PR. Again if you get exposure (and generate business from the experience) isn´t that the point? It´s not always about making money initially; sometimes its´ about getting exposure and waiting for the money to follow.
If you live in the Bay Area you´ll find this next bit of info useful. Contact Fort Mason Center at 415-441-3400 and tell them that you are interested in booking a meeting room to teach a class. They lease them out by the hour and can work with you to find something that fits your budget. Parking is free and they can provide everything from projectors to coffee urns. Don´t live in Northern California? No problem. Chances are there is a comparable meeting hall near you that can help facilitate your workshop. Contact your local chamber to get a listing of meeting places.
Also contact the Chamber or Rotary clubs about speaking engagements. If they have a website, they probably have a directory of members and with that you now have a ready made mailing list. Trust me, these workshops are money makers.
If you are a member of an organization, church or social group, consider conducting a workshop for those members. You can offer it at a reduced rate or free, but the point is that you will get a great deal of exposure and probably walk away with one or two new accounts.
Learning Annex www.learningannex.com 415-788-5500 has offices thorough out the US and Canada and always need guest speakers. Everyone from Terry McMillan (Waiting to Exhale) Donald Trump has taught at least one class at "The Annex´. It´s more difficult to get booked with them but once you do they publicize your firm, classes, book, services on their website and monthly national magazine. Again great exposure and you receive payment for your effort. Not sure where to start? No problem. I will offer step by step tips on getting these workshops set up in future articles. Next column"?¦Part Three