World of Speakers E.93: Robert Knop | Spreading the word

Ryan Foland speaks with Robert Knop keynote speaker, and social media strategist. He is the CEO of ‘Assist You Today’ and helps brands gain and retain clients.

In this episode of our podcast series, Ryan and Robert talk about various strategies on promoting yourself and the event you are speaking at in order to get more speaking engagements.

One of the key messages in this interview is to follow up with people on social media channels on the day you meet them.

Tune in for an interview full of ideas and advice on how to successfully spread the word about your event before, during and after the event.

Listen to the interview on iTunes or Soundcloud.

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Welcome to the World of Speakers podcast, brought to you by SpeakerHub.

In each episode, we interview a professional speaker and reveal their very best tips and tricks.

You’ll learn to improve your presentation skills, keep your audience engaged, and grow your business to get more gigs and make more money.

Here is your host, Ryan Foland.

Ryan Foland: Ahoy everyone, welcome to another episode of the World of Speakers.

Today we are speaking with Robert Knop, he is the CEO of Assist You Today and he essentially helps you and your company not become the next Sears.

He does a lot of paid and professional speaking to bring awareness to his business and today he’s going to assist us in how he develops talks, how he engages the audience, and how he builds his speaking business.

Robert, welcome to the show.

Robert Knop: Thanks, Ryan.

Ryan Foland: Well, let’s talk about you and learn a little bit about you in a somewhat non-conventional way. Instead of reading the bio for the audience and our listeners, I’m going to ask you to tell us a story from your past that shaped you.

And what’s fun about these types of standalone stories is that it gives me and the audience a lot of insight to who you are that’s well beyond your bio.

And then I’ll make some assumptions and ask some questions, and then we’ll get to know you and then we’ll ask you about your tactics and then how you build your speaking business.

So no pressure, but tell me one story that showcases like who you are as a person from a moment in time.

Robert Knop: Yeah, sure.

I’ll give you a story about when I graduated college.

And so last semester in college I started to think,

“Oh crap, what am I going to do now? This part of my life is over now, I got to get a good job and actually make money”.

So for me, I kind of approached in a holistic manner, I looked at,

“Okay, what do I want to do?”

At the time I was actually a graphic design major, if you can believe that.

I knew I wanted to live in a big city, yeah I was from a small town in Michigan and I knew I was much more of a big city rat than a country mouse so I wanted to move to a big city.

So my first thoughts were, I grew up in Michigan so I am thinking Detroit, I’m thinking Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago, I’m going to end up in one of those cities, right?

But then I knew a couple of cats that had moved out to Los Angeles the year before.

And so I thought, “Well man, I can spend my whole life in Michigan and I’ll be a very happy man, I love Chicago, I love Detroit, but I’ll never know what else is out there, I’ll never know what I could do, what I could be and what else I could see.”

That sounds very Dr.Seuss-like when I say it like that, but that’s okay.

Ryan Foland: “Oh the places you’ll go.”

Robert Knop: Exactly, exactly.

So I started applying to places in Los Angeles, I was like, “Hey, why limit myself to the Midwest let me try LA and see what’s out there.”

And lo and behold I got a great offer for a place out in Los Angeles and so I packed everything I owned inside my Oldsmobile delta 88, I drove cross country by myself over the span of 3 days from Michigan to Los Angeles and you know, pretty much been here ever since.

So I just took the plunge.

Ryan Foland: So you were a country mouse decided to go hang out with the city cats, and you never left.

Robert Knop: I never left.

My original plan was to work my way up the coast, maybe do a couple of years in LA, a couple of years in San Diego, maybe San Francisco, Seattle and then eventually move back to the Midwest, Chicago, Detroit somewhere around there and be close to my family.

But then I met my wife — she wasn’t my wife at the time, you don’t meet someone and merely become husband and wife, of course.

But meeting her, someone who pretty much was from southern California, the whole idea of moving to the Midwest someday, yeah, that didn’t go incredibly well, as you can imagine.

So yeah, we’ve been in southern California ever since.

Ryan Foland: So the big question is how you went from digital design or graphic design to somebody who speaks as part of their core business?

When did that bug hit, was it intentional, accidental, did it arise?

How did you sort of determine or decide that speaking professionally could work as something that you wanted to do as a cat in LA?

Robert Knop: Yeah, I mean for me, I was very happy doing graphic design but I worked for an organization, a company I mentioned that lost 3 of their 4 biggest clients in a week, back when the entertainment cratered in LA around the turn of the century, so I ended up buying half the company and run that for a few years.

I became a sales and marketing guy and I spoke all the time.

Then I decided to go back to my roots and became a crib director at a fortune 500 but then I kept getting pulled over to the sales and marketing side.

So I decided I’m supposed to be a sales and marketing guy so I decided to embrace that eventually that then became my role and has been ever since.

I kind of just fell into the speaking thing, honestly.

People start asking me to come do speaking gigs, those then increased over time and before the whole pandemic hit, I would do probably about once a month, I would be either on the road, in a panel, or doing a keynote of some kind, sometimes some breakouts as well, from a speaking perspective.

For my company, for my organization that’s how we get a lot of our leads, frankly, it is the speaking gigs that I have, so it’s a great way to augment business from our organization.

Ryan Foland: I want to know about these tactics and actual strategy, which I’m assuming is rooted in some sort of sales methodology, how you developed, how you actually give your talks, more of the mechanics.

Then, we’re going to jump to the business side of it on how we can help people gain more speaking gigs.

But what is your either strategy or mantra, what is it from sales that you’ve learned that works in creating keynotes and creating presentations?

Where would you start if you were going to step somebody through that process?

Robert Knop: Yeah, I mean it all starts with what’s the topic, right, what do you want me to talk about?

Sometimes people reach out to me, sometimes I reach out to them, sometimes I get referrals.

The things that I typically talk about are social selling, essentially how to use social media for sales, analytics, how to measure everything from marketing and sales perspective. Innovation, I talk a lot about innovation as well.

And so we always start with a broad topic, “Okay this is the topic we want to talk about, okay, great”.

And then we reach out to event organizers and say, “Okay, now that we’ve decided we want to talk about innovation”, for example, I use that as an example —

Ryan Foland: Well, let me actually stop and go like 2 steps back like Janet Jackson, and then we’ll get one forward.

It sounded like you said there’s a lot of topics that you speak about and I want to know on that as a strategy, so you talk about this, and you talk about that, you talk about this, I’m trying to sort of niche into speaking about authenticity and core messaging, that’s kind of like my swing zone.

So is there roots in sales about having a more diverse base in which you can talk about, and is that part of the strategy saying I have diverse topics and is that part of that initial strategy?

Robert Knop: Yes, so the things I speak are the solutions that we provide.

Ryan Foland: Okay. So you’re taking what you’re selling and you’re reverse engineering into speaking topics?

Robert Knop: Precisely.

Ryan Foland: That makes sense since you’re a sales first turn speaker.

At the end of the day, you’re monetizing your speeches not only by your honorariums but by reverse engineering those people to be clients.

Robert Knop: That’s right.

Ryan Foland: So for people listening, who are maybe struggling with what topics to speak on or they’re just told by other people, “You only need to speak in one lane,” this is another route to look at, where first focus on what you’re selling, reverse engineer the topics that are based on those sales, and then now you have this opportunity to then go narrow, once you talk with an organizer.

Robert Knop: Absolutely.

Ryan Foland: Okay, that sounds like a very sales tactical strategy to do.

And I find a lot of people want to speak at more gigs, they want to be paid when they speak and then when you ask them, “Okay, what are your topics that you speak on?” there’s not only an awkward silence but then it’s either a rambling number of a number of things or I just feel like there’s a lot of confusion within there.

So I’m hearing you can take what you sell, reverse engineer the topics, and then once you have those topics they can be multiple lanes, but it’s once you connect with the organizer that you pick a lane.

Robert Knop: Yeah. And a lot of it is what the purpose of their conference is, for example, if it’s an analytics conference I talk about analytics, if it’s a social media conference, talk about social media, sales conference we’re going to talk about sales.

And so we can pivot to a specific area of expertise based on what they want to focus on, from a conference perspective.

But that’s when the fun stuff happens, reaching out to those event organizers and putting the spotlight on them and saying,

“Okay, that’s great, do we want to talk about innovation, okay.

So now what specifically about innovation should we talk about?

Okay, why don’t we start with the target audience?

What do they look like?

What kind of audience is it going to be, what are their typical pain points?

Who shows up at these conferences?

What are their roles?

What are those things that they struggle with on a daily basis that I can then talk about from an innovation perspective?”

Ryan Foland: So these are the questions that you’re peppering to the organizer?

Robert Knop: That’s right.

Ryan Foland: Now, are you doing one at a time, do you have a slate of questions that you ask?

Because you ask, you sort of mentioned a whole bunch, and if I was the organizer do you feel that they get a little overwhelmed, or do you let them lead it?

Like really, the particulars of those conversations?

Because I think our listeners understand the best practice of talking with an organizer, but maybe not everybody has the experience to do it, so when they have the opportunity there might be a lot of stress and anxiety around it.

Like, how do you frame this conversation?

It’s like, “Hey, let’s connect from-” do you call it a pre-call, do you say, “Hey, I’ve got some specific questions?”

Do you send them over ahead of time so they’re prepared?

Like these are little nitty-gritty things that as a sales guy you figured out, but maybe not everybody else has because they might be approaching it a little differently.

So how do we frame that call, how do you get them on the hook, did they give you the time?

Just give me a little information about that.

Robert Knop: Sure.

I trigger like a discovery call, just like I would do from a sales perspective what the prospect is, figuring out their objectives, figuring out their target audience, figuring out their pain points, figuring out what success looks like.

It’s like, “What would you want people to know coming out of this?”

Ryan Foland: Do you send them that ahead of time or do you just pop them when you’re live?

Robert Knop: I don’t, because I seem to get better responses in real time.

Ryan Foland: Okay.

Robert Knop: If I send them over in advance I get kind of generic answers.

If it’s personalized one-to-one they’re on the phone I don’t want them to get off the hook with the generic answer, you dive one, two levels deeper until you get something that then you can actually use.

Ryan Foland: Such a sales guy, I like it, it’s good.

Now, do you warm them up with a bunch of easy questions so they say yes a bunch of times and then you’ve got them primed, or are you just more like,

“All right, we’re on the phone, and let’s connect?”

Robert Knop: The former, definitely, we talk about, I pull up their LinkedIn profile, I find out things about them to talk about.

Where are they from, where did they go to college,

“Oh, we both work for Bank of America,”

“Wow that’s crazy,”

“I was there this year,”

“I was there that year,”

“Who did you work for?”

We get the rapport on, okay now, just like you would from a sales call, you do that little bit of rapport, add a little bit of value early on and then you start to dive into the questions and learn more about the conference in this case.

Ryan Foland: Gotcha. All right.

So the top 3 questions that you would need to get across, you listed a few of them, but if you had to narrow down to the top 3 that give you, as a speaker, the most information in order to develop your speech, what would those be?

What would the top 3 questions that you need to ask in the discovery call be?

Robert Knop: Yeah, for a conference presentation like this, it would be, who typically attends this conference?

Ryan Foland: Yeah, couldn’t you make a guess at that just based on the conference?

Or is it better to hear it from them?

Robert Knop: Right. I mean, if it’s a marketing conference it’s going to be marketing professionals but you ask what level, is it more senior-level people, or is it more junior-level people?

That’s again, get down that nitty-gritty, that extra level after the first question.

Ryan Foland: Do they ever give you demographics, like could you ask them, or have you asked them in the past of like registrant data from last year, or is that too nitty-gritty?

Robert Knop: I don’t ask for the data but I do ask from past conferences. Is it primarily senior-level folks, junior-level folks, are they focused primarily in CPG, is it retail?

For example, I was giving a presentation on innovation a couple of years ago and it was for an insurance conference.

And so there was very little about the innovation talk that was insurance-based.

So since I know that this is for insurance individuals now that are primarily senior marketing level folks I can say,

“Okay, now based on that I can tail all this to marketing and to insurance.”

And so I did some research on a lot of insurance things and pulled in most of the examples, not all of them, but a large portion of the examples from the insurance industry so it was very topical to them.

And so those people could get very actionable things from that speech that maybe if I just talked about something about CPG or about automotive and used those examples they would say, “Oh, well that’s not our industry,” and it would fall flat, and then they’ll start checking their phone.

Ryan Foland: Gotcha.

So deep dive on who’s there at the audience and in particular what level they’re at and what they’re hoping to essentially get out of it, from that audience or from your potential customer standpoint.

Alright, question number 2, what would be the most important next to that?

Robert Knop: What are the typical pain points?

Ryan Foland: Okay, and it’s just nice and open-ended so how aware are the organizers of the pain points of their audience?

Robert Knop: Well, sometimes that takes a while to tease that out, they may know, they may not know.

But if it’s an industry-specific conference they’ll definitely know, if it’s very high-level and say it’s impact conference, for example, they might say, “Well salespeople, they have sales problems, okay, let’s dive down lower,” but I mean, I’m in sales, so I know a lot of the problems that they’ll face, maybe for that type of conference I wouldn’t ask that question.

But it depends on the conference.

Ryan Foland: Have you ever asked to be connected with any people who are going to attend the conference ahead of time to speak with them and actually take it one level further and talk with somebody who’s registered at that conference to some extent?

Robert Knop: Yes and no.

For this, in particular, I asked to crowdsource some questions and I’ve done that many times in the past, I’ll reach out on my social media channels and say, “Hey, I’m talking at X conference about Y in about a month, let me know what questions you like to be answered,” about whatever the topic is for that particular instance, so that way you get maybe 10 questions especially if these are people that you know are going to be attending to your point, that people want to hear if they’re going to the conference.

Ryan Foland: I think that’s a great idea to turn to social and find out other marketing professionals in an environment where it’s safe for them to talk about their pain points because you have that info from the organizer about who’s attending.

And you could even loop into the conversation, those people that you have relationships with that fit that demographic whether or not they’re going to the conference.

One thing that I was surprised that, it was a conference almost like a sales kick-off and it was for a massive company, so it was only their own employees.

And as part of that process, they offered to connect me with 3 of their employees from different divisions around the world to have pre-call conversations with them to make sure that I was going to be fully aware from that actual employee standpoint.

So if it is employee-based and not necessarily just like, “Hey, open to the public,” that’s one thing that I always ask now is, “Hey, what are the chances I could talk with somebody on the east coast/ somebody on the west coast,” and then I’ll incorporate those people or their stories without naming them.

Say, “Hey, I was talking with somebody who runs out of your west coast office and they were telling me a story,” so it keeps them anonymous and it really ties within.

So I love the idea of going to social and I was surprised when they offered me the opportunity, but it’s interesting if you can talk to an actual attendee, it’s like one less removed from the whole operation chain.

Robert Knop: I did that a lot for training actually.

So if I’m going to be training a group of folks I’ll reach out to one or two highly respected individuals within that group, but I’ll ask my contacts at the organization before we ever talk, so out of these 100 people that are going to attend this, give me 2 or 3 names that are your rockstars, if it’s that we’re launching a social selling program, give me your 3 best people that did this already, let me talk to those people, we’ll get a couple of stories and like,

“Oh, well John is a top 10 sales guy and he’s already doing this.”

“Wow, I should do this.”

And sometimes I don’t even have John talk, I’ll prep him ahead of times and I am going to give you 2 minutes, give me a story about the success that you’ve had doing this already, and then it’s okay John, we were talking the other day, do you want to share that story we were talking about?

And it sounds like it’s off the cuff and we just came up with this at the moment, but it was all rehearsed ahead of time.

And it adds so much more credibility if it’s coming from that person than some random third-party guy they don’t know.

Ryan Foland: I love that.

So here I just made up a new word, okay.

What you’re referring to is what I will often talk about as a mole, not in a bad way but like if you have a mole, right — I was giving a training the other day and I jumped into the different breakout rooms and I was in one of the breakout rooms and they were already done.

So I said, “Hey when we come back to the main session what are the chances you guys can be my mole and you’re the first one to raise your hand as soon as we get back we’re just going to rock’n’roll.”

They’re like, “All right, I love it.”

So I go back to the main room and, “Hey everybody, I hope that was good, do we have any volunteers?”

And Lisa is like, “I’ll do it,”

I’m like, “Great,” it just fired off this energy.

So the idea is, you talked about momentum, it helps to create the momentum, so I’m going to call it molementum.

Robert Knop: That’s brilliant.

Ryan Foland: So find moles that can help you create molementum.

You know, Eric Sim, he’s big on LinkedIn, I’ll make sure to connect you there, but we’ve been coordinating, he was on this podcast, we did a Clubhouse together, and his Clubhouse room was great because he had like 3 or 4 moles with the questions that he wanted to bring up and there was a lot of molementum which created momentum.

So there you go.

Robert Knop: Love it.

Ryan Foland: All right, the third question that you ask, we’ve got to really dig into the demographics, but get deeper and deeper.

We’ve got what are the pain points and see if you can get employees, high performers, or people in the industry that can share their experience on social.

What’s the third to bring it home as far as digging into the organizer to help develop your speech?

Robert Knop: What does success look like, at the end of this?

What would you want people to be saying when they walked out of this session.

Ryan Foland: All right.

Do you find that they know that pretty well or do they just like, what if they’re like, “Well, they want to sell more.”

Because when we ask the general questions sometimes we get the answers that we would expect.

Are there any little salesy tricks or tips to getting a few levels deeper within that question?

Robert Knop: Yeah, that’s definitely the hardest one and that’s the one that I would say rarely get a really good response from, right out of the gate.

So for example, those innovations, they say oh well they want to know current innovations, like, okay so current innovations in their industry or overall?

And they’re like, “Oh, now we’re getting one level deeper,” now I was like, “Well, I would say overall.”

Like, okay, so I know that they want more high-level versus a more targeted speech.

Now I might not want to go in that direction to make sure you capture, it’s that what you mix in a combination of both, they say I want them to have tactical things that they can take back to their company and launch in the next year.

Great, now we can say instead of talking at the 30,000-foot level we’re going to talk about very specific things that they can take back with them.

Ryan Foland: Okay, and are you ever prepared if they don’t have an answer to have done some research and suggest what you think those would be to kind of grease the wheels, be your own mole for your own molementum within that call?

Robert Knop: Yeah, a lot of times I knew the answers already, or at least I know what I think the answers are and if they’re struggling I’ll kind of lead them to water a little bit.

I’m like, “Hey, do you think they’ll be looking for something like X or looking for something like Y,” and like, “Oh, yeah.”

And then it spurs the conversation from there.

Ryan Foland: Gotcha.

So if we’re taking what we’ve learned here from a sales first, now a speaker, we’re looking at understanding not only the conference but the people within the conference, the pain points within the conference, how they need to feel when they leave the conference, and then you’re taking that and you reverse engineering and creating a dynamic, compelling speech that’s totally custom, correct?

Robert Knop: That’s the plan.

And typically I have a template, the innovation speech that I’ve been using for the past few years is, “In 10 years you’ll never leave your house.”

Which I didn’t realize how prophetic that would be, because I’ve been giving it for, this would be the third year now and, hey it all came true within 2, unfortunately.

But for the wrong reasons.

So for that, for example, I have a template.

And then based on what the answers are, I can add new examples to each one of these areas.

I mean, the errors are going to be true regardless, like some of the points were things like I’ll be working from home, so how does that apply to the automotive industry, versus the technology industry, versus the financial services industry, things like that.

And so you have to bring examples in for each one of these industries if it’s that specific if it’s more high level, and it’s more of a keynote, then you can grab from all of them, that’s the easiest one, you can just pick the best in show for each one of the most dynamic ones or the ones that you have easy videos to include in your presentation.

Ryan Foland: Okay, that’s a lot of good stuff to unpack.

But the problem is none of that is any value if you don’t have an opportunity to speak with the organizer, if you don’t have the opportunity that people want you to speak on their stage.

And I will let a little cat out of the bag for you mister cat in Los Angeles is that you are someone who practices what they preach and you went on LinkedIn before this podcast and you asked people what they wanted to know while we were talking on this podcast.

And they wanted to know how to get more speaking gigs.

And I know you got this from multiple people, it just so happens that this section in the show is all about that, so let’s dive into creating the opportunity to work through all that strategy you just talked about.

Because we can be very prepared and excited to talk with an organizer but if there’s no event and there’s no organizer to talk to.

So talk about a general question like how do I get more speaking gigs, how would you even approach that because you can go a million different ways.

Robert Knop: Yeah, absolutely.

First is sharing knowledge, a lot of what I do on social media is giving away information.

It’s been my experience the more information you give the more people want to work with you, whether that be from a professional perspective to have an engagement from a consulting area or from a speaking perspective.

I get at least one passive inquiry per month to do a speaking gig, just from the content that I post, engaging with others, adding value with that content.

It’s, “Wow, this guy is really smart, he’s really talented, he’s a guy we’d like to have come talk about X at our conference.”

Ryan Foland: Now, is that something that you are just delivering like the newsboy that’s just throwing news on everybody’s feed, or do you at some point go and actually look to collect and do you make a specific ask if you’re looking for a speaker?

So I think there’s always that ratio, I think intuitively we agree with you that the more thought leadership you share the more it solidifies the brand crumbs that people find and they are like, “Oh, this person.”

But is it solely just giving information out and how do you plant the seed for them to hire you?

Are there any particular strategies around that?

Robert Knop: Yeah, one of the easy things to do in your profile is you can talk about how you’re a speaker.

Now if you’ll look at my LinkedIn profile in the about section it talks about how I was a 2 time LinkedIn sales convention speaker and how I have spoken at this and that and I typically talk about X, Y, and Z.

So the little debate that you have is the free information and then “This guy seems smart, let me check out his profile, he does speaking gigs,” like, “Oh, I want this guy could come to talk at my event.”

Or what’s even better is speaking events that you do have, you just promote the heck out of them before, during, and after the event which showcases without you soliciting anybody that you’re smart, that you’re talented, that you do a lot of speaking events, that you’re in demand.

It showcases the topics you typically talk about as well, so it’s free advertising.

The voice and tone is really key of those posts, so it doesn’t sound like you’re bragging or it doesn’t sound like you’re soliciting, but if you talk about what you’re doing and the value that you’re providing, then you have some things behind the scenes tha t I can talk about in the second as well, that builds a nice pipeline of interested individuals that creates demand for you.

For myself, I’m a busy guy, I’m running my business, I don’t have a lot of time to go out and actively search for new speaking engagements, so this is a way for me passively to stay top of mind with those individuals that would want to have me as a speaker and have that steady inflow of demand.

Ryan Foland: Okay.

One thing that you talked about as far as the tone, I’d be curious to get a little deeper there because when you’re sharing that you have a speaking event coming up there’s the promotional aspect of it, maybe any tips on making it seem like you’re not being a braggart about it?

Then when you’re actually saying, “Hey the talk is now, we’re going live now,” or, “The conference is now,” sometimes that could be the boy who cried wolf if you’ve said it a whole bunch of times before.

And then after the fact like where is the line drawn when you’re sharing a humble brag of, “Hey, I just spoke at,” or what are some of the tactics to come across less salesy and more shall I say baity to let people make their own decisions?

So if you can give us some social selling tips that are not passive-aggressive, not humble braggy, for the beginning, the middle, and the end because sometimes, and I can say for myself, that tone is hard because you want to share, you’re excited, you want people to, you want to support the conference, you want to be somebody that helps to drive attendance and build their community, but that’s kind of a fine line, and so I am sure that others are curious because I am too.

What are some social selling tonal hacks from promoting, saying it’s happening and then after the fact?

Robert Knop: Yes, so beforehand, like a month before the conference even happens, and again this kind of works in 2, the sales side as well, I’ll reach out to second-degree connections that I know are attending the conference, maybe from the conference speakers or are connected to people that I know that are in the area, and I’ll use the second-degree connection to get the warm intro, you get the connection and you talk about,

“Hey I’m going to be in town in about a month speaking at this conference, would you be interested in grabbing a cup of coffee while I’m there?”

Ryan Foland: So wait, this isn’t a direct message, this isn’t even publicly?

Robert Knop: Yeah.

Ryan Foland: You’re beforehand finding individuals that are either speakers or that you can somehow find or search that they’re going to be in that area and you’re not saying, “Hey I’m speaking come watch me speak,” you’re saying, “Hey I’m speaking, do you want to grab a coffee?”

Robert Knop: That’s right.

And to me, that’s more of the sales side of it, and that’s actually how we met, Ryan, if you remember correctly, we were speaking at a conference 3 years ago I saw you’re speaking, I looked at one of your TedTalks, I said,

“Wow, this guy is smart, he’s talented, he’s someone I want to meet in person.”

So I reached out on LinkedIn, we connected, we grabbed coffee after one of the sessions and we’ve been friends ever since.

So it works.

Ryan Foland: Look at you practicing what you preach.

Robert Knop: I know, it’s crazy, right?

Ryan Foland: Sneaky sales guy, in a good way, it’s not a pejorative thing.

Okay, so you’re setting some bait for people in a connective way, individually.

What do you do publicly so that you don’t seem like a braggart if you’re saying, “Hey, I’m speaking at this event coming up,” and do people even sort of care?

I don’t know, you’re the LinkedIn specialist, so what would you do there?

Robert Knop: Sure and it gets meeting those secondary people that you know are going to be at the conference and attend, they can help promote your event too.

So you can promote their speaking, like, “Hey, check out my good friend Ryan at this conference,” and you could say, “Hey check out my good friend Rob,” it always holds so much more weight when it comes from someone you know and you trust and someone’s talking about someone else.

If I say I’m great and you should attend my speaking event, people are like, “Oh, wow, he’s talking about himself.”

If Ryan says, “Hey Rob is great you should attend his event,” like, “Oh, wow, I trust Ryan and he’s a smart guy, he’s not talking about himself, he is talking about this Rob guy, maybe I should check out this Rob guy.”

So that holds a lot more weight, that’s one way you can do, it is kind of sharing each other’s stuff.

Ryan Foland: Do you make that ask?

Or do you just assume or you do it and hope that they follow?

Robert Knop: You make the ask, yeah, you ask them like, “Hey, so I’ve got an idea for us to get more people at the shows and to spread out the word and to get a lot more views,” because the point of all this is you want to get the 1000 people that are going to be at the conference to attend your event or to attend your speech that’s great.

But you want to have 100000 people know about it outside of that conference, that’s the real value of spreading the word before, during, and after the event.

So beforehand you do want to have a post or two, I mean, not a whole lot, I’m probably more on Twitter than on LinkedIn because you don’t want to have too many posts on LinkedIn about it, but let people know,

“Hey, really honored to be speaking at X conference about Y, we’re going to do a deep dive on A, B, and C.”

Let them know this is what you’re going to get out of it, and this is perfect for this type of role, so I’m like,

“Hey, if you’re a senior leader within marketing, this is the kind of stuff we’re going to be talking about, these types of people that it’s targeting,” and then maybe have a picture of one of your slides.

So you give them a teaser ahead of time so people know, “Hey, this is what I’m going to get, this type of stuff, this is other things he is going to be talking about,” and it’s pretty well in advance, a few weeks in advance say,

“Hey, and I can give you a 20% discount on the conference if you want to attend, check it out in the first comment.”

So then you can get that as well, so you give them information, it’s more about helping against you’re giving away information, you’re showing them an example and you’re giving them a discount all in one post, for example.

Ryan Foland: Interesting.

So we’re covering this idea of finding alliances at second-level connections to help them promote you, you promote them, that doesn’t come across as much self-promotional.

Then when it comes to the actual sharing closer to the date, anything in particular that you do — and remember, in this context, we’re taking the gigs that we’ve gotten to help us get more gigs.

That sounds like what the strategy is.

To get more gigs maximize the exposure of the gig so that whether 1000 or 100 or 3 people come to your session, 100000 people see it, you might come of top of mind when you’re dropping these brain crumbs, they see that you’re smart, they see that you’re active and then they go for it.

So when it comes to sharing closer to the time of the event, any sneaky sales strategies there?

Robert Knop: Yeah, so it’s kind of the Instagram approach.

So what I liked to do is I like to take a picture of when I’m on the plane for example, if I’m flying somewhere, this is more applicable to 2019 than 2020, hopefully, 2021 as well, taking a picture outside the window you know, if you get a window seat, or when you have like the landscape or if you’re going to like Boston or New York or San Francisco some iconic —

Ryan Foland: You’re building momentum showing the process in the trip in the plane, in the travel —

Robert Knop: Right.

Ryan Foland: The Instagram approach, I like this.

Robert Knop: Yeah, “So excited, just landing in New York, pumped up to give my speech on X at Y conference, Wednesday, hope to see you all there.”

And then you know a couple of clever hashtags at the bottom, if it’s on Twitter or LinkedIn you maybe have a little more information on that.

Ryan Foland: I like it, the Instagram approach when the event is approaching.

Robert Knop: Right.

Ryan Foland: Then how do you repurpose the content, how do you say and sort of still create bait after the conference is done and gone?

Robert Knop: Well even while you’re there, I mean that’s before, the during is actually just as important as the before, so the during is you have people take pictures of you while you’re actually doing it, say I did an interview with LinkedIn, we did a lot of content last year in February, it took a lot of behind the scenes photos that I’ve been posting for a year, talking about that content and using those different photos to showcase, like the behind the scenes look, that’s what people always like, they like to see how the sausage is made just as much as eating —

Ryan Foland: Spicy, Italian sausage, yes.

Robert Knop: Exactly.

So that kind of stuff is really important, you can post that the during, you know, have someone take a photo of you while you’re on stage. I did this a million times, hopefully, they don’t steal your phone.

Ryan Foland: They’re photo moles.

Robert Knop: Right, or one of the people putting on the event, “Hey, would you mind taking a few photos of me on stage?”

And then as soon as you get done they post like, “Hey, I just got them off my speech at X,” but even before your speech starts within the conference app.

And I got this idea, I forget who it was at a conference a few years ago, because usually when you’re at a conference they post up the Twitter feed on one of the screens to either say, “This is what people are saying about it.”

And so they posted, “Hey, my speech is coming up in 30 minutes in conference room 3, make sure you all attend we’re talking about X, Y, and Z.”

I’m like, “Oh my god, it’s a great idea.”

So from now on, I always do the day before and the day of in the conference app itself you promote that, so you get more people to attend while they’re there instead of going to people if it’s a breakout session, for example, so make sure you do that as well.

Ryan Foland: So I’ve got a funny, little, short, story about how you can get recognition as a speaker at a conference when you’re not even the speaker.

Robert Knop: Okay, give it to me.

Ryan Foland: It was 2015 or 2016, and it was my second year attending Social Media Marketing World. I was a guest, I was just learning, I was loving all the information.

But the first year I took so many notes, like 5, 6, 7 pages of notes I had like taking pictures and notes, and then it was only until the next year when I was searching for something unrelated on my Google drive that I saw this like 8 to 10 pages of notes but I didn’t do anything with like I had all intentions, but I didn’t do anything with it.

So I decided the next year that I went back I would leave my computer, leave my iPad, only use my phone, and everything that I thought would be notable I turned it into something that I would tweet.

So in real-time, essentially the same 8 pages of notes turned into hundreds if not a couple of thousand tweets, that not only got me at the top level of the most active tweeters, but I had to leave the conference early and I was on the train coming home and I got all these messages and everybody blew me up and they’re like, “Congratulations,” I’m like, “What are you talking about?”

I got named the top speaker at Social Media Marketing World because everyone just assumed that I was speaking because I was just all over the place.

And I actually called that a Tweet-nado, and then I repeated and duplicated that everywhere.

So what you’re saying resonates with me in that I would tweet like all of my notes and all of the things, and speaker this, and this is what they said, and I tagged them all and I’ve made so many great connections and even though my speaking gig was an hour in that whole 2 or 3-day conference, it gives that long-tail effect and so I’m glad that you reminded me of that funny, little, crazy story.

Robert Knop: And I do the same thing, maybe not to that degree, but for at least every other speech make sure you post something, make sure you engage with other people’s posts.

I mean, you know as well as I do, social media is all about reciprocity, you know if you engage with someone else’s post they’re going to engage with yours.

Ryan Foland: Can I say the speaking is about reciprocity too, like we’ve connected multiple times over the years swapping notes, referring stages, saying,

“Hey, I’m on this podcast, would you like the intro to that podcast?”

So just being active at the conference and connecting with other people and mentioning tagging and meeting with them, that’s all the things outside of your actual talk.

Robert Knop: That’s right.

Ryan Foland: But that’s what helps you get more gigs. I’ve gotten so many gigs as referrals off of speakers, and maybe that’s not super intuitive if you’re starting.

So this is all great stuff, let’s close it up with what you do after the fact.

Robert Knop: Sure.

Ryan Foland: We know we’ve got Tweet-nados, we’re in the app, we’re using all of the tools during that time and then we come back, it’s a week later.

Robert Knop: Let me give you one more during though, and this is probably the most important thing that you can do when you’re at a conference, those individuals you meet, you’re going to meet 50 people a day, right.

At the end of the day, you’ve got a stack of business cards and a stack of Twitter IDs, right. You look all those people up on LinkedIn, that same day and you send them an invitation to connect.

“Hey, great to meet and chat for a little bit today, or I really enjoyed talking with you on Twitter today, I’d love to stay in touch”.

You get a 90% acceptance rate if you do it that same day.

If you wait 2 weeks until you’re like, “Oh, I forgot to connect with these people,” no chance, right.

They met 50 people a day for 4 days, they’re not going to remember who the heck you are.

Ryan Foland: So fortune is in the fast follow-up.

Robert Knop: Proximity is key, exactly.

Ryan Foland: And you could just allocate an hour or 2 after the conference, maybe before the party or whatever else to sit there and focus and get all that done. Great stuff.

Robert Knop: Right, even after the party, I don’t care for me, I don’t care if I get back from midnight, from dinner and drinks, meet with a bunch of people.

I will open my laptop, I’ll look everybody up and I will send them invites, it is absolutely imperative to do that, as soon as possible.

Ryan Foland: All right, so then you’re home, it is 2 weeks later, you’ve already contacted everybody and you feel like the steam has left the engine and you’re like, “Now what?”

How can you maximize to create a little bit of bait so that people can buy into hiring you as a result of this content that they’re seeing?

Any tips or tricks?

Robert Knop: Sure.

The first thing is a couple of days after the conference send those people notes, all the people connected on LinkedIn, send them a follow-up note saying,

“Hey, it was great to meet you at the conference, I would like to continue the conversation about X.

Do you have time to talk in the next couple of weeks,”

and send them some examples, that’s the first thing you do.

So privately you do that.

Publicly about a week after the event those pictures that people took of you while you’re on stage you post those on your social media channels and say, “Wow, I had a great time at X conference talking about Y, thank you so much to all of these people,” and then tag all of the event people.

It gives them free notoriety, it makes them say,

“Oh, wow, look at all the stuff that Rob did to promote our conference, we should have him back again next year.”

And so make sure you tag all those people, I’ve done posts, I’ve gotten 50,000 views just thank you posts that all they say is, “Thank you to X company,” and tagging the 10 people I worked up from the event and, “Oh, by the way, it was great to meet these 20 people,” so I tag like 30 people in the post I get you know 200 likes, 17 comments, and 50000 views and suddenly,

“Oh wow, I’ll get in the speaking gig just from thanking people about my last speaking gig.”

Ryan Foland: Right. In sales, it’s probably easier to upsell than it is to get a new sale.

Robert Knop: Absolutely.

And then finally, if there is a conference recording and sometimes there is, sometimes there isn’t, but if there is a conference recording that’s your thing about a month after like, “Hey, I know a lot of people.”

And this may be true, this may not be true Ryan, but you can say, “A lot of people are asking me about this speech I gave at X conference about Y, here is the link to the recording, we talk about — “ and layout at each point you talk about things.

So don’t just say, “Here’s the recording,” and that’s it, say, “At 11 minutes I talk about X, at 19 minutes we discuss Y, at 27 minutes we go over Z,” so they have exactly where in the presentation if they want to jump to a certain thing to get one key data point, and give like 5 of those,it also showcases all of the great information that’s in it without saying, “Hey look at all the cool things I talked about.”

Ryan Foland: Okay, well I’m going to probably send a thank you and name you, and then maybe we’ll get 50000 on that, if I tag a bunch of other people and whatever else, maybe I’ll dish up some of the old footage from the conference that we spoke at together like 5 years ago, and then drop that as well.

But I’m not trying to be cheeky, but I’m just sort of starting to think now about missed opportunities of promoting before, during, and after and some of these new strategies of promoting before, during, and after.

I’m also of the school of thought I don’t do much outbound, a lot of it is just inbound and that’s because I’m focused on creating content, adding value, but this really solidifies a lot of those little particulars that we can all do as speakers to get more gigs in a way that’s just providing value, promoting, sharing gratitude, showcasing other speakers, other than yourself and wrapping it in a way where it’s not a humblebrag, you’re just excited about sharing something that you’re involved with, and that creates a positive aura and a good brand halo for you to get hired back, you to be referred, and you to maintain your reputation as a speaker.

And so for those people that are asking how do you get more speaking gigs, I think this is a really nice laid out plan that doesn’t have any smiling and dialing, it doesn’t have any aggressive sales tactics, it’s using tactics from sales to leave bait to let people buy it on their own.

Robert Knop: Absolutely, absolutely.

Ryan Foland: All right, Robert, if people have seen your posts, they want to follow you or they want to get connected or they want to have you come speak at their event, where do they go to find out how you can assist them?

Robert Knop: The best thing is LinkedIn for me.

I probably spend 3 to 4 hours a day on LinkedIn, Robert Knop, last name K-N-O-P.

I’ll be the first one that comes up, don’t worry.

And yeah, that’s the best place to get in touch with me, you’ll get a lot of free content as well, I mean I post nothing but value-added content and a lot of authentic thank yous, you know quite frankly to a lot of people. I promote other people, so I’m always happy to help people whenever I can. I’ve been thankful not to be able to get four people new jobs this year too, which is fun in this kind of market.

So I’m always happy to connect on LinkedIn.

Ryan Foland: That is awesome.

Well, thank you and a special shout out to SpeakerHub for sponsoring this awesome podcast and doing a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes so it all comes out nice and polished so that I can share it before it comes out, so that Robert can share it when it comes out so that we can create posts about it after it comes out.

If you don’t know about SpeakerHub, it’s a platform where you can host your wares as a speaker, you can provide your videos, you can put your speakers’ reel, you can put your accolades, your articles.

It is a place that you can showcase and it’s a place where you can find speaking gigs. There’s a full search engine that pulls in all kinds of feeds and if you do want to try to find gigs, you can go out there and try to find them via SpeakerHub.

That’s, thank you to my SpeakerHub family, and thank you Robert for being here today and for making that initial second-degree outreach because you knew I was speaking on the same stage and who would have thunk that, what, 4, 5 years later here we are talking, uncovering the selling secrets that you used against me as some of the best content here on my podcast.

That’s a very inception full loop there.

Robert Knop: I would like to say enhanced instead of used against you, but terminology.

Ryan Foland: Okay, yeah, this is good, I see what you did there.

Robert Knop: Augmented, I augmented.

Ryan Foland: Bottom line sales doesn’t have to be sneaky, but there’s a reason why good salespeople sell more than those who are not, and if you’re a speaker you might not be a salesperson, but you can learn from a salesperson who became a speaker and Robert you assisted us with that today.

So thank you again.

Thank you, everybody, if you want to find me or hire me and bring my energy to your stage all you have to do is go to and you can find out more.

Until next time everyone, speak up, speak out, share and we will see you next time on the World of Speakers, wherever you are in the world.


A bit about World of Speakers

World of Speakers is a bi-weekly podcast that helps people find their own voices, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business. This special series of episodes has been created to help speakers navigate the coronavirus crisis.

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This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.

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