How can I get a really extraordinary speaker?

If you’ve always wanted to have a conversation with Richard Branson or Elon Musk in person, you wouldn’t be the only one. Marian, the London Director, made a commitment to himself when founding the London chapter that was simple: host only the best. This has made the London chapter one of the most active in the world. Marian has found that over 60% of his attendees come to see the speaker, and only a minority attendees look for networking alone.

If you want to supercharge your chapter, the way is clear: get amazing speakers. Build a Top 10 List of people you’d like to host who occasionally visit your city (or poll your audience!), and let Marian break down his best strategies for getting them to join your community in this video.

In the video, Marian talks about some of the following high-level strategies:

  • Be in places and at events where your speakers feel at home, such as conferences and high-level parties. You’ll actually be able to have a short conversation with them there and make the invitation as a peer rather than as another admirer.
  • Use second-level introductions whenever possible, especially from connections who are as equally high-level as your speaker. Asking a successful past speaker for an introduction to your target will open doors that absolutely beats reaching out to your target’s public relations committee with a cold email. Of course, you can and should try both!
  • Use your key connectors from friends and business partners in the press, from your educational background, and your past employers. Your social media profiles will reveal connections to even the hardest-to-reach guests. In asking for an introduction from friends and partners, always make it a win-win by inviting your introducer to the event for free if you’re able to secure the guest and giving them a chance to mingle with your speaker. Additionally, you might want to write the request in a way that allows the introducer to have an elegant way to say “not right now,” but leave the door open to return to the conversation after your next event.
  • Position the invitation to the speaker’s unique interests. Did you know Richard Branson loves setting Guinness World Records? Marian learned this about his target and is using it as a unique angle to attract Richard to London Startup Grind. Clayton Christensen, the academic and philosopher behind The Innovator’s Dilemma, was attracted to speak at Startup Grind Global 2014 by his interviewee: a long-time reader, Mark Suster, of a well-known venture capitalist and writer at Both Sides of the Table. Dave McClure of 500 Startups was charmed into becoming with a Startup Grind speaker with a unique Dave offering: 500 cookies, freshly delivered to their California offices. The moral of the story: giving back to the community might warm your speakers’ heart, but deeply understanding them and offering them an experience they have long been searching for is the surest way to grab their attention and inspire action.
  • Be a superconnector, introducing your most influential speakers to one another. You’ll gain their respect for adding a valuable new mentor to their networks, and also create a desire to create reciprocity - like an introduction of a speaker you’ve always wanted to host. Organizing an annual dinner for them is another wonderful way to create meaningful connections and keep yourself closer to the top of their minds in case some inspiration comes into their minds.