Through my involvement with the New York National Speakers Association (NYNSA), I meet in person with three colleagues every other Monday morning. We each have a business that includes professional speaking and share our progress in securing speaking engagements. At each meeting, we commit to specific action items for the upcoming weeks and report on previous commitments. There’s a lot to be said for making others and yourself accountable!
Last week, when reporting our progress, the question was posed, “Did you get paid for that engagement?” Of course, as professionals who are in business to turn a profit, the preferred answer is, “Yes.” Yet we all agreed that doing some pro bono work is part of the cost of doing business, and we can find ways to make that work worthwhile. We may, for example, speak at national conference sessions or at local business meetings in which we might or might not receive an honorarium. When we do for others—in our case, sharing our expertise as professional speakers or presenters—we want to benefit. Dollars, of course, are one way.
Yet there are other ways we can benefit. We can be introduced to an audience of potential clients. We can be considered for future engagements that have budgets. We can use the opportunity to introduce our products and services. We can request referrals. And public relations both before and after the event can widen our exposure to new audiences.
In preparation for an upcoming speaking engagement with the Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN), program coordinator Brian Kane created and posted a video featuring co-presenter Ruth Thaler-Carter and me. This promotional tool has opened my mind to the many forms of payment that are available.
The next time you do pro bono work, request payment that is meaningful to you. And when you ask others to do pro bono work for you or your organization, find ways to repay them for their generosity. We need to remember that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin.