Questions to Ask When Choosing a Social Media Speaker for Your Next Direct Sales Conference

If you are a direct selling/network marketing company and planning a conference for the field, how do you choose your social media presenter?

In many cases I see people being booked who have no (or very little) experience with or understanding of direct sales, and this backfires. Distributors complain that the presentation was boring or just missed the mark.  Often these are speakers who may be well known in the technology world but cannot relate to people who are independent distributors. Because of this they speak in generalities and expect the audience to invest large amounts of money for additional training or outside help, which is not practical for most home-based business owners.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Social Media Speaker for Your Next Direct Sales ConferenceWorse, either to save money or under the guise of recognition, often a company will find that one of their consultants is “doing really well” with Facebook (meaning she is posting all over the place and the other consultants follow suit) and they prop her up as the company social media expert, ignoring that she cannot answer basic questions because she has little actual expertise, and cannot provide additional support, since she has her own personal business (and life) to take care of.

Choosing your social media conference presenter, in particular within the direct sales/party plan industry, needs to be given considerable thought. In order for the training to make the biggest impact and lead to long-term results for the company and its representatives, it is important to find someone who meets the needs of both the company and the independent representatives, while also providing superior value that can be implemented in practical ways.

Here are 12 questions to consider when hiring your next social media speaker:

  1. Do they have any published books or other materials specifically about social media? This can be a good barometer to distinguish how much expertise they have. If they are simply someone who has expertise in another area but “knows about” social media in their own marketing, they aren’t going to have the depth of experience you need.
  2. How many years’ experience do they have using social media marketing within the industry? Many social media speakers unfortunately are not very experienced but simply jumped on this topic since they know it is popular right now. They will read a book or attend a seminar and then pose as an expert, when really, they’re not.
  3. Who are their previous clients? Sure everyone has to start somewhere, but if their list of clients is empty, or they do not have any clients within the direct sales/network marketing arena, that tells you something.
  4. What other events have they spoken at? If any? Someone may be “doing well on Facebook” but not have direct experience presenting to an audience on this topic. Experience speaking at events similar to yours informs speakers as to what works and what doesn’t in large group situations.
  5. Do they have a speaking video? Not just a video where they are sharing tips or talking about themselves but an actual video of them speaking in front of an audience.  If so, watch how they relate to the audience. How “entertaining” are they? Technical speakers often are quite boring, and your direct selling reps will not appreciate that in the middle of their fun and exciting conference! They want someone dynamic and lively.
  6. How much can they customize? Beware of the keynote speaker who has only “canned” presentations. If you would like something specific, or for them to customize so their information is in alignment with your company’s policies and lingo, they should be able to do that. If they refuse, it is a sign that they don’t really truly know their material but are simply reciting a scripted presentation. Note: The speaker’s fee might be higher for a custom presentation – this is OK as long as it is an option!
  7. What is their social media presence like? Check them out on LinkedIn if they will be speaking about LinkedIn. Check their Facebook business page if they are training about Facebook. Check their Twitter if they cover Twitter. If they are not walking the walk, how can they talk the talk with any credibility?
  8. What have others said about their presentations? Look for testimonials and feedback either on their website or through LinkedIn Recommendations. Pay attention to the type of endorsement, and particularly look for those made by direct selling industry decision makers who have hired them to speak, instead of audience member feedback.
  9. What kinds of continuing education programs do they offer? If they have programs in place that audience members can purchase, or that the company can license to give the field, they are more likely to take action. Better still is if the speaker offers to include in her fee a follow-up webinar or tele-class after your conference to cement the learning.
  10. Does anyone in your company have experience working with the speaker? Word of mouth is still the best form of marketing for any service provider. Chances are, if your conference speaker prospects are building a solid online presence, someone in the field has heard of them and participated in one of their programs in some way. When you get a recommendation from a distributor or leader, listen. They know what they like, and chances are your greater audience will, also!
  11. Are they a member of a professional speaking organization such as the National Speakers Association? This may not be a deal breaker but if they are, they have been through a professional application process that indicates they are committed to a code of ethics and continued learning within the speaking profession. NSA members are known for their professionalism and exceeding expectations!
  12. What other topics do they speak about? The saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” rings true in the speaking world. When a social media keynote speaker also does presentations on very diverse non-technology topics it can be a distraction to them, and an indication they are not focused on keeping up to date in technology. They may have a secondary expertise but the best match is when their other topic supports their primary focus. For example, a social media speaker who also speaks on using mobile technology – that makes sense.

What has your experience been with social media keynote speakers at your direct sales conferences? More than once I have heard distributors and leaders complain about how “last year’s speaker was a dud!” Nobody wants that. Is it time to be more picky about who you choose? 🙂

For more information on marketing your business with social media, be sure to check out my book, Social Media for Direct Selling, available at online retailers or here.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Kelly February 13, 2014, 1:53 pm

    Great post Karen and SO true! You fit the bill on all accounts…ahem 😉

    My biggest peeve is #7 and it is very common to see a social media “professional” whose own SM presence is lacking at best.

    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      February 13, 2014, 7:56 pm

      Thank you! And I AGREE! It is one thing if someone is an expert on Facebook and maybe doesn’t have much following on Google+, but if they are claiming to be an expert on Google+ they better have built up something credible. Thanks for the comment!

  • Cheryl Gnad February 13, 2014, 6:35 pm

    I look forward to being able to fill all of these points! I am not a member of the NSA yet, but soon, I think my experience will lend me to become one! I also need to be very persistent to getting a review of when I did do a talk! Currently, I am hoping my presentations with SCORE is beneficial. More to come! In time, right now I appreciate your encouragement from afar!

    • Karen Clark
      Follow me on Twitter: mybizpresence
      February 13, 2014, 7:54 pm

      Cheryl you can do it! And I highly recommend you join your local NSA chapter – even if you have to drive a bit to get to one. You can attend without being a member and you will meet generous people who love to help newbies! You can join the National Speakers Association Facebook group as well! GOOD LUCK!!! You’ve got the expertise, I know you can do it!


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Karen Clark

Karen Clark, Social Media Speaker.When she was an active direct sales leader, Karen Clark walked the walk as she sold, booked, and supported a team offline, while expanding her reach and service online. Now working with direct selling companies and their field representatives as a speaker and social media corporate consultant, Karen uses her 17 years' online marketing expertise to teach audiences exactly where, when, and how to establish an ethical and effective online presence with social media, while remaining true to their principles and personal business. Read more

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