Posted with permission by: Dan Weedin
From his Newsletter of 15 January 2009: A Guide for Better Business Presentations
Many of you have asked me how to get an opportunity to speak in front of Rotary Clubs to gain exposure for you and your business. As a 15-year Rotarian, current President of my club, and more importantly a speaker at many clubs over the years, I feel compelled to offer you my five step process.
Step 1 – Determine what value you have to Rotary Clubs. What benefit will the members get after hearing you speak? They don’t want to hear a commercial. They want to know how to improve their business or their lives. Remember the phrase “What’s in it for Me!”
Step 2 – Find out who the decision-maker is for the particular club you want to speak to. All clubs run their programs differently for any certain year. The club president may be the obvious choice, and is more than likely the best place to start. However, I delegate all program decisions to my Programs chair person who in essence is our “economic buyer.” The easiest way is to send an e-mail to the club web site and see who responds.
Step 3 – Try to gain a referral from a person in your network who is a Rotarian. Certainly, with over 1.3 million Rotarians in the world, you should have someone in your circle of family, friends, clients, and acquaintances. Ask for an introduction to the decision-maker1
Step 4 – Follow up. If you don’t hear back within a week (and give it a week – not all Rotary clubs follow up promptly), call the number on their web site. Remember, this is a volunteer organization so you might need to take extra steps to find someone. Be persistent.
Step 5 – Try to get invited to a club meeting. Network your value as a speaker, not to your service or product. See if you can find a hole in their schedule. Many clubs are dying to get good speakers. Some, Like mine, are booked up in advance for three months. Remember, it’s about the value to them, not you. If you are perceived as simply a commercial, you won’t get a shot.
Bonus – Once you are able to present a program to a club, get at least one testimonial. Ask the decision-maker if he/she knows any other clubs where your program will benefit their members. From my experience, Rotarians LOVE to send good speakers on to other clubs because they will get reciprocity.
If you want to have an opportunity to give a presentation to a group of movers, shakers and economic buyers for your services, Rotary is the place to speak. Just make sure you are providing VALUE to them and not commercializing yourself. This isn’t a chamber event. If you give great value, you will receive it back.