One of my favorite parts of my job over the past year or so is having had themic opportunity to participate in speaking engagements at conferences and local business chapters.  In addition to helping me add credibility to what I do, I’ve been able to connect with people offline, and create additional opportunities for myself and my firm.  While I’m not an “expert” by any means when it comes to securing these opportunities, there are a few steps I’ve taken that have helped me do so that I thought might be helpful for those looking to do the same.

1. Connect in the real world.  You can be the smartest person in the world with great credentials, but without a strong network of the right connections, you will most likely fall on deaf ears.  Get out there and meet some folks, especially those in charge of the events you are interested in speaking at.  Your in person introduction will make that online submission to speak a stronger sell.

2. Get your house in order.  It goes without saying that without a mildly successful blog, social network, or career, you might have a hard time joining the speaking circuit.  The good news is you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 executive or world famous blogger.  Just make sure you have a well contributed, commented on, blog, and an active social audience.  You have to show that you have some sort of audience/credibility first.

3. Pitch something memorable.  I actually worked my way in by coming up with a session that I genuinely thought would attract an audience.  The session was titled “Social Media Solutions On A Budget”.  Find something you are knowledgeable about, and add a spin to the title that will surely not only entice an audience, but the attention of a show’s organizer.

4. Leverage an ally.  If you know someone connected to the show or organizer in any way, make sure you include a name drop in your submission.  The fact is sometimes it’s more about who you know, then what you know, especially when it comes to getting your foot in the door.

5. Kill it onstage.  There is no doubt that the only factor that will really have you maintaining your speaking circuit card is delivering a world class presentation.  I pride myself in giving everything I’ve got when given the opportunity.  Be entertaining, informative, and most of all, HELPFUL.  That is the key.  Be sure to give your audience actionable information that they can walk away with.

I know for many these tips may not seem like rocket science, and quite frankly they are not.  But they are the steps that I have taken and found success with.  For those of you on the speaking trails, would love your tips as well in the comments.