Speaking – From FREE to FEE

Corporations typically hire trainers and workshop leaders. They generally do not hire keynote speakers for “in house” programs. They are looking for people who can provide some type of training for their staff.

Associations generally hire keynote speakers, lunch time speakers and after dinner speakers for one of their regular meetings or special annual meetings. Some associations will also offer some special training seminars to their membership in conjunction with their event. The speaker who can provide both a keynote and training session will often be hired because they can meet the needs of the client for both speaking situations. For example, in October of this year I will be providing three half day seminars for a client as part of their annual conference. On the last day of their conference, I will also be providing the lunch time keynote. Because I was already being paid my full fee for these three seminars and needed to be there during lunch, I offered to provide the lunch time keynote at no additional fee. This is a “win-win” situation for both of us

Keep in mind, many of these association members also work for corporations who need “in house” programs. Speaking at association meetings continues to generate leads and actual work for me as an “in-house” trainer. I have even provided many FREE lunch-time 45 minute programs that have lead to multiple “in house” seminars. The condition of providing the program FREE was to require that key decision makers attend these lunch time programs and hear me speak, especially those people who have the authority to hire me. I also make sure I am introduced to these people during the lunch time event and follow up with them afterwards. This was the way I “broke into” the corporate market and established some credibility as a corporate trainer. These corporate executives then referred my name to other corporate executives, which in some case were either their next door neighbor of a member of the same church they attended. As I mentioned earlier in this article, this is a referral based business. I can trace many of my best paying clients back to some “pro bono” speaking I provided either that year or a few years earlier.

Many of these associations will often provide you with the names & addresses of their entire membership list. I also ask the person who hires me to provide me the names and contacts of other people they know who they think may be interested in hiring me. I also ask that they make the initial contact with these people. When I do call them, it is not a “cold call” but a follow up call to the one initially made by the people who hired me. I add the names of these people to my mailing list, especially the members who attended my session and heard me speak. If you do offer to speak for free, ask that the person who hired you provide some kind of press coverage and place an article in the local newspaper announcing your speaking engagement. Always try to have them include a photograph of you as part of the article. An article with a photograph always draws more attention. It also helps you establish a “celebrity” status, at least in the local newspaper. Other executives, both corporate and associations will read this article and may contact you just based on the article. This article will more effective in attracting other business, than a classified ad you would have paid a lot of money for.

You can even call the local newspapers and mention that you will be speaking in the area and offer to write a short article about your topic that they could publish in the local newspaper. The article should not be too promotional but offer some sound advice to the typical client you would like to attract. Have them include your name, address and telephone at the end of the article so people will be able to contact you. This also lets the newspaper know that you would be available as a good contact for future articles and believe me they will contact you.

Another effective method is to become an active member of key associations who have the types of business contacts that may be good for your business. Becoming an officer in the association affords you the opportunity to become first known as a member of this association and get to know the members personally. Through this professional association, the other members become more familiar with your speaking services and what you have to offer. They are then in a better position to either refer you to someone they know or even hire you for their own company.

The moral of the story is to speak every where, even if for free. It works. The more people who know about you the more people there are who can tell others. Continually build your network of business contacts and soon you will be asked to speak for your full fee. The key is to learn how to “leverage” these FREE speaking engagements into generating PAID speaking engagements.

From his success on the sales floor of an automotive dealership  to becoming a veteran trainer and then the adoption of technology for Internet-based marketing, his career has evolved to deliver the skills and tools needed to help consumers. Richie Bello combined his automotive expertise with his robust desire to “take care of the customer first” to become an automotive influencer, published author, and renowned trainer.  Bello absorbed the wants and needs of consumers as he worked up the ladder of the automotive industry.

Over the thirty-five years of his career, he developed strong Internet marketing skills, leading him to developing software solutions that create ease for consumers, and helps dealers improve relationships with customers. Innovation drives success. And, for Bello, it’s in his DNA. took years to come to consumers and arrived in a timely manner, during the 2020 Pandemic. With over 6 million vehicles on the site, features that help consumers deliver, finance and warranty, Bello has met the retail digital age head on.

Bello also is founder of Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit, dedicated to the recruitment, education and employment of veterans into the automotive industry. Visit


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