Don’t know about you, but I find it can be really overwhelming coming home from a conference with a notebook full of actions, heaps of people to connect with, and a billion thoughts on how to improve your business/life/whatever else the conference might be about.
Of course I do take notes and have little tick boxes next to things which need to be actioned, but the thing which I have found to be most beneficial is to set one clear objective off the back of a big event.
So just like I ask my clients, I ask myself…
What is your BIG FAT STUPID GOAL moving forward?
I remember a few years ago, probably around 2017 sitting in the closing session of the Professional Speakers Association Conference held in Nottingham and writing as my BFSG.
“I want to become an international keynote speaker”
I’d said it.
And then the following day, I kid you not I saw a friend of mine posting about a gig in Cape Town that was looking for speakers and I applied.
5 months later I was heading on a plane to deliver a talk called “Big Fat Stupid Goals” to an audience of speakers at the annual convention of the Proffesional Speakers Association of Southern Africa.
Intentions are EVERYTHING, as is taking inspired action, and getting out of your own way. Because for sure I had little voices in my head saying “You’re not ready yet” “there are bigger and better speakers than you” “you have a young child, how you gonna make this work”
I sit here in 2019 with a range of international speaking gigs now behind me, a network of friends and advocates across the globe, and an action plan for how to grow my brand as a speaker even more as we head towards a brand new decade.
I have just got back from the German Speaking Associations annual conference where I gave a keynote, “Leading from behind” which I think is safe to say was a resounding success.
And as I try and get myself back into work here in the UK, I wanted to share some observations, some lessons. Not really about me as a speaker, or even about that conference (Which was a bloody good one I can tell ya) but more from my area of expertise.
The process we undertake to attract the right people into our business world to support the growth and ultimate success and impact…because sorry to break it to you folks but Tribe Building is NOT just social media marketing.
So here are my top 7 lessons from the weekend.
Lesson One – Join an association where your people hang out
I joined the PSA in 2014 when my life was an absolute shit show, I’d been unemployed for a while, had a young baby, a failing relationship, and a business I was struggling to get off the ground.
When I went to my first conference I was of course a little overwhelmed by the level of success of the speakers, but I also knew I had found my people…I knew by surrounding myself with these folks I would uplevel. I would find the practical and emotional support I needed to grow as a speaker.
Now this doesn’t need to be a speaking association for you, but for goodness sake find some groups of people who are doing what you are doing and stick close to them. Business is lonely…we can not reach the levels of success we are looking for on our own.
Bonus tip…if you have aspirations to be global, make sure the groups you join have a global mindset too. I love that the PSA has such close links with the equivalent associations in 15 other countries.
Lesson Two – Find yourself some advocates
In a meet the experts session on Saturday my friend and mentor Alan Stevens (40+ years in the speaker game I might add) said “find yourself 20 advocates and nurture them. Let them know what you do, what you need, and how you can help them.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Referrals are key in business, and we tend to refer people we know, like and trust on a personal level. So go for dinner, book tickets for the theatre, socialise.
But also keep them abreast of new avenues of work so they can be up to date with how best to serve you…and remember this is a two way thing, make sure you are referring good people in your network too.
Lesson Three – Don’t be a Diva
You might think that the speakers are the stars of the show at these conferences. NOPE. I tell you who are. The staff who work all year round to make it happen. The people who quietly sign you in, and issue you with everything you need, and deal with issues on the day.
What they don’t need is a speaker making demands, not showing up on time for sound checks. Being a dick basically.
These folks can often be bookers and referrers too, so don’t be remembered as difficult or up your own arse (thats a UK term by the way). Be helpful, respectful, and take time to say thank you.
I made some wonderful friendships with the sound guys, interpreters etc
Lesson Four – Don’t make assumptions about who might be in your tribe
In the early days of my fitness business www.toofattorun.co.uk I used to think that my advocates and fans were all middle aged, overweight women, who wanted to run…turns out a heap of blokes kinda appreciate what I do too.
I had a lovely chat with my interpreter, turns out he loves parkrun in Germany. I gave him a copy of a poem I was performing in my talk so he could prep…he said he really appreciated that as it made his life easier.
He also gave me some beautiful feedback after my talk, which actually made me cry a little (but don’t tell him that ha ha)
Lesson 5 – Create an inner circle of Tribe Members
I can’t tell you how important it is to have folks you can be 100% honest with in business. Yes, you have your wider tribe for support…but having a handful of go to people for when the shit hits the fan is critical.
I’m not going to lie, on Friday night I had a bit of a meltdown.
I was second guessing myself, imagining that none of my jokes would work, feeling like I was an absolute fraud. My friend and mastermind buddie Julie Holmes wasn’t having any of it though, she gave me a firm talking to, and then helped me get clear on my goals and make a few tweaks to my talk.
She also helped on the day with practical things like getting some B roll footage and recording my entrance. You don’t have to do it all yourself at this big scary important events in your life.
I also had a lot of support virtually, people offering to give me a pep talk…and generally wishing me well. This stuff really does help.
Lesson 6 – Follow Up
You know what it’s like, you have a fab time at an event, you meet some wonderful people, you make a shit ton of promises to stay in touch, and then you go home and get consumed in your own stuff.
Don’t be that person.
Make a list of people by priority…starting with event hosts, fellow speakers, and event crew. Then the folks you felt super connected to who you promised to follow up with, and then (and I think this is a really important part) is follow up where possible with people you didn’t get a chance to connect with fully, folks who perhaps said something kind on social media, or a speaker that you heard good things about their session, but sadly missed it.
Lesson 7 – Have fun
People often think that doing business or being a speaker overseas is glamorous. It isn’t always. It often involves lots of travel, long days, little sleep and a heap of logistics.
Find ways to let your hair down.
Book an extra day or two if possible and take up any offers of local people to show you around. A highlight of my trip to Cape Town was one of the delegates Huni offering to take me to a women’s project in a local township, and inviting me back to her home for dinner.
I am a very sociable person, and the Gala Dinners and discos are just all part and parcel of the event for me…I think a lot of relationships are forged around the bar (or the occasional bottle of good whisky) and even if you are not a big drinker, there’s still a lot to be said for joining in with the party at the end of an event.
I hope these thoughts are helpful.
I have come away from the conference with a heap of ideas for new programmes I am going to create, a new webinar I want to deliver called “Lessons from a master Tribe Builder” and I am also going to get my finger out and get round to getting a new showreel done, now I have some great footage.
If you are a speaker or an aspiring speaker and would like to find out more about the PSA check out this link, I tend to go to the London Meetings, and you can also find me at the annual conference most years too.
Happy to have a chat to anyone thinking about joining.
If you’d like to know more about how I help entrepreneurs embed Tribe Building into their businesses, check this out, we start on the 30th September and places are limited.
Finally a massive thank you to The German Speaking Association, and especially the chair and host Ilja Grzeskowitz for inviting me, and doing such a great job all weekend.