This is going to be the first in a series about raising your profile in the web industry. I’m going to share some tips that are guaranteed to help you massively increase your visibility and credibility. These two things lead to higher paid, more exciting client work and opportunities. Let’s start with conferences, and how to nab a speaking slot if no one knows you.

Ryan speaking at FOWA San Francisco 2006, about how to build web apps

We’ve been running conferences for over six years and we’ve learned a thing or two about speaking, exposure, and credibility.

As soon as you’re on stage, you automatically join the ‘experts’ strata. It’s not fair or logical, but it’s just a fact. Humans naturally attribute credibility to someone who is speaking from a stage.

So if you’ve never spoken at a conference, how do you get an invite? It’s easier than you might think. Just follow these steps …

  1. Go to the conference and meet the organizer in person. The best way to do this is agree to volunteer for free. You’re doing the organizer a favor and he’ll feel obligated to return the favor at some point. This might seem Machiavellian but it’s not. It’s just How to Win Friends and Influence People 101.
  2. Do something really creative. Create an open-source tool, do a fake re-design for Berkshire Hathaway and explain why it’ll work, use the web to help a charity raise money. It doesn’t matter, it just needs to be creative and attention grabbing.
  3. Record a three-minute video sampler of a talk you’d like to give about the project. Tips for the video: head and shoulder shot, good sound, simple one-color background (not the wall in your bedroom), decent lighting, do NOT be boring. This video is about convincing the conference organizer that you’re going to be a great speaker.
  4. Send the video to the organizer and say that you’ve created something really interesting, recorded a three-minute video sampler of your talk. You’re willing to pay for your own flight, hotel and expenses. All you want is a chance to really delight their audience.

As long as you have just a little bit of charisma and excitement, I guarantee you can get a speaking slot if you follow these steps. Once you get your first speaking gig, approach another conference with the same tactics. Once you’ve got two big speaking gigs under your belt, you should be able to land almost any speaking slot.

Once you land the speaking spot, you need to do a TON of prep work and speaker training, to make sure you really wow the crowd. I’ll try to blog about this in the future.

Thanks to Laughing Squid for the photo.