SME = Subject Matter Expert. You need to become one – but why is it important to promote your business?


Because your business is awesome. You know it, we know it. But it’s frustrating when you spend $ on spreading the good word and it seems like it’s still difficult to stand out in the crowd of competition. So what can you do to put yourself out there in a bigger and less expensive way? What better way than to get up in front of the public and talk about what you know! You may be too humble to realize it but you are an expert in your field and the information you have might just be important to someone else. If you are considered an expert in your industry, opportunities to share that knowledge pop up all over the place and it becomes your ticket to local media.

Here are 10 ways to land public speaking gigs so you can promote yourself as an subject matter expert and in turn promote your business:

Local Events:

  • Find local events in your area highlighting small businesses or your related field. Events usually have a person designated to handle speakers – e-mail or call that person and give them your 30-second content pitch on what you would like to say during the event – focus less on you and more on the content of what you want to discuss. They are looking for experts, not to promote businesses for free. But don’t worry – they include your name and business in the program so you will get promotion even though it’s not obvious.

Colleges and Universities:

  • Professors are often looking for guest speakers in a professional industry–get in contact with your local university to start spreading the word that you are willing to speak to students interested in business or your specific industry.

Local Services Clubs:

  • Service organizations such as Kiwanis, Rotary Club or Lion’s Club have regular meetings that you can offer to come speak at about your specialty and what your business does to help the community. They also might be a great way to network in general if you are looking for new opportunities to promote your business. They are typically very involved in the community at deep levels and a great way to get started.

Local News Outlets:

  • Local news stations are always looking for experts for their shows. As we mentioned above, when you pitch them you have to focus more on the subject matter at hand and less about you and your business. If you send in a pitch all about your business they will have their advertising sales people call you. If you send in a creative pitch and speaker abstract about something that your business expertise can offer as a help to their viewers, you will have a much better chance at seeing air time. Remember, being a subject matter expert automatically promotes your business – you have to think the way a producer thinks – no one wants to see commercials on the local news. But if the city is going through a drought and you have experts tips on how to preserve your green lawn by using ½ the water – then that is interesting. Your landscaping business will be seen as knowledgeable, and you can leverage that segment in your own marketing efforts.

Contact Your Clients:

  • Don’t forget that your very own clients may belong to groups or organizations that are looking for speakers. Share your knowledge with your customers and if there is a particular subject that is hot on everyone’s mind, consider producing a pamphlet that explains the importance, etc. You can leave it behind and let them know you have spoken at community events about this. You never know where it might lead!

Use LinkedIn:

  • Your business connections on LinkedIn may be involved with an organization that may be looking for someone with your expertise. Join groups and associations on LinkedIn for your industry and actively participate and comment on other’s posts. You can also keep up with your news feed for possible leads as well as reach out to connections that might know of opportunities.  

Event Websites:

  •, Lanyrd, Conferensum are online directories, just for conferences. Sign up for these services for free and personalize what you would like to be informed about.

Google Alerts:

  • Set up Google Alerts to email you when an event related to your industry is being talked about. Be specific with keywords that you use in Google alerts.  Get involved and join in on the conversation, let people know that you are interested and want to contribute.

Speaker Directories:

  • There are matchmaking speaker directories that will match a speaker to an event for a fee. Getting yourself on these directories may provide a wide range of new organizations interested in your expertise. Check out for opportunities available!

Start your own Blog/Podcast:

  • If it seems like you are putting yourself out there over and over again and no one is paying attention, try starting your own blog or podcast! If you have interesting things to say you just might gain a following. You can use that to propel yourself into other and more public speaking venues. Publishing your own content builds your public speaking resume builder in a big way – especially if you can attract attention on your own. Just don’t get discouraged if it takes awhile – the key is consistency and great content.

Speaking in public to promote yourself as a subject matter expert can take your business to new levels without paying for advertising or promotion. The name of the game of marketing is getting your name out there to the most people and hopefully with the most affordable acquisition cost. Try these 7 tips to put your name on the map! Have other ideas for how to publicly promote your business? Share them with us in the comments or tweet us your tips!