There comes a time when you need to get paid as a speaker.

Sharing your expertise for free at the local library and the nearby university has been a great learning experience that has allowed you to assemble an impressive speaker’s kit that contains your bio, three to five keynote topics you can feel confident in speaking about, testimonials, a promotional speaker’s reel consisting of a two- to four-minute video providing highlights from several speeches, and a raw 10- to 20- minute unedited video of you on stage.   Your social media accounts are updated and include all these very important elements.

You have the tools to show that you have authority in your field and deserve to be paid for your speaking services.

So how do you find the gigs that pay?  Here are five ideas:

  •  Google It:

o    Google can be your best friend when it comes to finding speaking engagements. Be specific in your search:  <industry> + “conference.” When you dig into those websites you should find contacts for the organizers of the conference or event. Send them a short note introducing yourself, citing your authority, indicating what unique knowledge you have that would be useful to their audience, and directing them to your website for more information.

Let me repeat: What do you offer that is of benefit to that conference’s specific audience that nobody else can offer?  Without proof of your authority and uniqueness, you’re just another resume on the pile.

  • National Speakers Organization

o    The National Speakers Association is the leading organization for professional speakers. NSA’s thousands of members include experts in a variety of industries and disciplines who reach audiences as trainers, educators, motivators and consultants. Join!  It serves not only as a resource for speakers but as a directory for those looking to hire speakers.

  •  Trade Associations

o    Get in front of your niche market. Trade association websites generally list upcoming conferences: National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, Society for Human Resource Management, National Association of Legal Professionals.  Keep an eye on them. If they have magazines or newsletters, subscribe.

  •   Conference Databases

o    There are a handful of ‘comprehensive’ directories of conferences. Visit these when you have the time to scroll and research. Because they’re trying to present so much information, from real estate conferences in China to leadership summits in Chicago, they’re often unwieldy and frustrating to navigate. But with patience, you can probably sniff out some opportunities.  Some of these include,, and

  •   Other Speakers

o    My number 1 tip: Stalk and learn!  Find a successful speaker in your industry and look where they’ve spoken in the past.  Look at their LinkedIn page and Facebook postings. Reach out to those conference organizers.  Plus, establish a connection with these speakers. Comment on their tweets and videos. Chances are they’re going to get offered an opportunity that either is inconvenient or not enough money.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they recommended you for the job?

You’ll notice I didn’t include speakers bureaus.’  Speakers’ bureaus can, indeed, be helpful.  But because they work on commission, unless you command the big bucks, they’re probably not going to pay too much attention to you.  I’m sure there are some out there that work with novice speakers, but I wouldn’t expect speaking engagements to come knocking on my door.  If you want them, go out and find them.