How to choose a speaker bureau partner

Did you know that speaker bureaus are not all alike? They don’t all serve the same client base, they don’t all work in the same way, they don’t all focus on the same topic areas or work to the same budgets.  So, it’s important to choose wisely.
Choosing which speaker bureaus to work with is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your success as a professional speaker. Here are some factors to consider when choosing which speaker bureaus to work with:
Roster: A good place to start is to check out the bureau roster; who they have listed on their website.  Are there other speakers in your category speaking on similar or related topics, if so, it’s likely the bureau has a market in this topic area?  If the bureau lists speaker fees, do you fit in any of their speaking bands?  Again, if you do you maybe a good fit.  Maybe you fill a gap, you are a good fit for a topic and in the price range but there is no one who looks like you or has your background, this may be of interest to a bureau.
Reputation: Research the reputation of the speaker bureaus you are thinking about working with. Look for reviews, testimonials, and ratings from other speakers who have worked with the bureau in the past. You can also ask speakers who are listed what their experience has been or ask for recommendations from other speakers or industry professionals.  I don’t recommend that you ask speakers to make introductions, it’s better to follow the instructions bureaus give you with regards to applying.
Audience: Consider the type of audiences and clients that the speaker bureau serves. Look for bureaus that specialise in your niche or industry, as they are more likely to have connections with the right clients who are interested in your expertise.
Experience: Look for speaker bureaus that have a proven track record of success in booking and managing speaking engagements. Ask about their experience in the industry, and how long they have been in business.  Most will tell you on their websites. 
Fees and Commissions:  There are no written rules when it comes to fees and commissions so it’s a good idea to understand the bureau’s fee and commission structure.  Not all bureaus are transparent about their fees and commission, you may have to ask.  Bureaus in the US tend to take a commission from your speaking fee whereas bureaus in many other parts of the world will add their commission on top.
Communication: Look for speaker bureaus that have open lines of communication and are responsive to your needs. A good bureau should be available to answer your questions, provide support and guidance, and keep you informed about upcoming opportunities.  However, don’t judge a bureau harshly if they don’t communicate if you have contacted them during conference season, they probably haven’t got to your email yet.
Website: Check out what the bureau says about how they accept applications, what they are looking for, what criteria makes you a good fit.  Most bureaus will tell you exactly what they need and if they are recruiting or not.
Contract Terms: Once you get added to a roster you may or may not be asked to sign a contract.  Many bureaus create contracts only for speakers they take on exclusively and create contracts on a booking-by-booking basis for everyone else.  However, some will require a contract simply to list you.  When you are given a contract make sure you read it carefully before signing.   Make sure that you are clear on your role in the agreement and that you understand the commission structure, payment terms, and other details.
But before you do anything check that you are speaker bureau ready.  You don’t want to fall at the first hurdle simply because you haven't got everything in place to make it easy for a bureau to take you on.  Not sure if you are?  Grab my Speaker Bureau Ready Checklist here.
Let me know how you get on.

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