A good friend of mine got the opportunity to speak at a very prestigious event. Besides the honor of the invitation, my friend was hoping to attract a big crowd, sell some of his books, and generate some buzz. Unfortunately, the organizers had some challenges—and a comedy of errors ensued.
My buddy's name was misspelled on the invitations. His talk was scheduled in a room that wasn't shown on the map. And his headshot wasn't included in the program with the other speakers.
Needless to say, my friend was angry. He shot off a nasty email to the organizers and threatened to pull out of the event all together. But before he did anything rash my friend asked a brain trust of his friends for their opinion. When cooler heads gave the opportunity a once-over, everyone realized that pulling out of the event was not his best strategy.
Here's some of the good advice from the email thread my friend received. I think you'll find the input pretty universally relevant:
- Make Each Opportunity Work.
“Unless you're a diva I would not back out. That would only disappoint the people who want to see you. This kind of crap is all part of the game, like bad PA systems, broken projectors, bad lighting, etc. We're pros, so we find ways to make each opportunity work.”
- Play The Cards You're Dealt.
“Hey, these things happen all the time. Incorrect lighting, bad introductions, being positioned right after the “we're firing you all after this speech, so listen good, you hear?” kind of comments, etc. Play the cards you're dealt. Make the most of the opportunity.”
- Extra Effort Could Pay Off Big.
“One way you could grab the bull by the horns would be to send out notices letting your fans know where you'll be. Have a special gift for them like a free PDF or audio download. Print up some special business cards for that event clearly indicating where you will be, how people can reach you and how they can take advantage of the offer you'll make that day only. In other words, make the opportunity something great despite what has already happened. This will take extra effort for you but could pay off in bigger ways than if everything had gone correctly from the beginning.”
- You Never Know Where Your Next Opportunity Will Come From.
“I think you've confused the purpose of networking events with selling books. C'mon, you've already sold what, over 3 million books? So if your appearance sells 24 or 240 (or even 2,400) of your books, it is statistically irrelevant.
The reason to speak at this event is because it's prestigious and may get you in front of the single person who makes a difference. After all, you never know where your next opportunity will come from.
As the pioneering retailer, John Wanamaker famously said: “Half my advertising is wasted. Trouble is, I don't know which half.”
- You'll Never Know If You Never Go.
“One of the requirements for success is being in 1) the right place at the right time. To do that, however, you have to be in 2) the right place at the wrong time, 3) the wrong place at the right time, and 4) the wrong place at the wrong time.
There are no guarantees except that your presentation will result in one of the four scenarios listed above. But if you never go, you'll never know.