professional developmentHave you ever been inspired by a great conference keynote speech? A workshop presenter that your school or district hired? Do you want to share your ideas, be useful to others and make some extra money? Have you ever wondered how that could be you some day?

Well, it can, but it takes time to position yourself to take your show on the road. Below are some suggestions taken from what I’ve seen work for successful speakers and professional development providers.

  1. Know what you want to be known for. Pick your focus. There should be just be one or two things you are known for as the go-to person. This should guide your identity in all your profiles/bios and there should be keywords that you use that become tied to who you are and what you stand for.
  2. Engage on Twitter. Find other people doing your work and who are the audience that would invite you to speak. Know popular hashtags and chats. There is a big community of education thinkers and doers out there who might help you brainstorm. Put the topics you are passionate about in your bio using the hashtags you care about most. This way when someone searches a hashtag, they’ll find you. For example, if #BYOD (bring your own device) ) is your thing, use that in your bio. People can find you when they search for those knowledgeable in your area. You can see what that looks like here.
  3. Admin groups. Become the expert in your area by becoming the administrator of online and/or face-to-face groups about your topic of interest. You might run a face-to-face Meetup group, or an online page or group in places like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google. Moderating a Twitter chat or running a community in a place like EdWeb are also effective options.
  4. Be a product or resource expert. Do you have a product or resource you just love and use all the time for teaching and learning? Contact the company and see if they’ll pay you to present at a conference. These companies love to have people who are using their product tell others how great it is. If that is you, this might be a great way to start.
  5. Present at conferences, speaking events and online forums. Find conferences (like EdCamp), speaking events (like TEDx), and online conferences (like those hosted by Steve Hargadon) in your industry to present on your topic. Presenting exposes you to people who might want to invite you to speak at their venue. If your presentation is recorded, that is even better as a global audience can become exposed to your ideas.
  6. Comment. Comment on articles and well-known blogs with a link back to your online space. This will lead to you getting more well known, thus increasing credibility and search-ability.
  7. Contribute to publications and blogs. Publishing is one of the best ways to get your name out there. Find outlets to publish in. Contact trade publications and blogs and offer articles. Keep search engine optimization in mind. What do you want to be Google-able for? Use those terms and hyperlink them back to your site. Make sure your byline and/or bio has a link back to your site.
  8. Start your own blog. Maintaining a blog takes a tremendous amount of commitment. It is also one of the best ways to gain credibility and build a following if you have valuable content that you are able to update regularly. If you go this route, plan to be it in for the long haul. It usually takes years to build a following.
  9. Write a book. If your content is valuable, then as you become known and start to develop a following, it is possible that publishers may be interested in a book deal. A book published by a known author provides a great avenue for speaking engagements and book tours. There are many publishing companies that have their authors serve on a speakers bureau or serve as onsite workshop providers. Solution-Tree is an example.
  10. Support others doing this work. Do you know someone who is always out and about doing speaking engagements? Connect with that person by offering them support. Let them know you’re available as a helping hand to assist in your area of expertise. For example, offer to watch the Twitter backchannel during the presentation and be on hand to feed them burning questions or ideas. Offer to support them in set up for the day. That might mean proofing the agenda, setting up some back-end resources for them etc. Let them know you want a mentor and are looking to learn with them. Start to prove yourself and some of this work may turn into some paid work should the speaker have an opportunity to recommend others for breakout sessions, panels, general assistance and more.

Setting yourself up as a paid speaker or professional development provider takes a foundation and a significant amount of work. If you are interested in speaking about a passionate interest, this work will be a lot of fun. Take the opportunity to grow and connect with others who share your interest.

These are some tips that I’ve seen work well for others. What have you seen? Can you think of more ways to promote your ideas to potential audiences?

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997 and is the author of “Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning” and The Innovative Educator blog.

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