Service Clubs: Boost Your Business
Are you looking for an inexpensive way to promote your business?
Have you ever wondered what a higher visibility in your community
could do to increase business? Have you ever listened to a speaker
at a service club and thought, “I could do better than that!” You
Brenda was a successful men’s hairstylist in San Francisco’s
financial district. At the encouragement of her mentor, she attended
the Dale Carnegie Public Speaking course and then became a
Toastmaster. The hair product company she was affiliated with hired
her to deliver seminars for other stylists who carried their product
Conversations with her executive clients about her weekend speaking
activities led to invitations to speak at their Rotary, Kiwanis, and
breakfast clubs. They knew her bubbly personality and prior
experiences with other groups would lead to an interesting program.
When she exceeded their expectations, the executives recommended her
customer service talks to their companies for staff meetings. What
Brenda was delighted to discover was that speaking for groups in her
community was a very effective way to help build her business.
Why Should You Give Free Talks?
Service clubs do not pay a fee. However, you are paid in a currency
that is far more valuable: visibility and access to new contacts who
are part of your local community where you do business. As Brenda
told one of her salon owner friends, “Rod, clients who drive 80
miles for you to cut their hair feed your ego. Clients who walk or
drive to you in a 15-minute radius feed your family.”
Talking about your business, charity, or major passion is exciting,
fun, and provides great visibility. Your first talks to local
service organizations like Rotary, Kiwanis, and Optimists lead to
many more invitations. Remember, every service club is looking for a
free speaker for next Thursday!
Al was one of Brenda’s loyal hairstyling clients and recommended her
to speak at the Golden Gate Breakfast Club. At the time, all the
members were men and good prospects for her salon. Brenda was
excited to discover that the same day she addressed them, three
members of the audience made lunchtime appointments in her salon.
Even though your business may be in insurance, advertising
specialties, or printing, an effective speech will bring you
recognition and eventual business. Even if you talk about your
hobbies, interests, or charity of choice, your introduction will
mention your business. You will be networking and meeting new local
What Should You Talk About?
What do you know that other people want to know about? What do you
know that other people should know? What are the questions
people ask you most often about your business, or industry, or even
hobby or interests?
Speaking at a service club or any local group is an excellent
starting point for promoting your product or service. But remember,
no one is eager to listen to a sales presentation. Your goal is to
be interesting, informative, and even entertaining. This leads to
the audience members wanting to have a conversation with you. A
conversation can lead to a friendship, a client, or a referral. For
example, an insurance professional, who also happens to be an
athlete, can talk about running an Iron Man Triathlon, what it
taught him, how that relates to planning for the future, and add in
his expert advice or investment philosophy.
How Do You Get Invited to Speak?
First, develop your speech. Then, tell your friends, clients,
associates, and acquaintances you are available and would love the
opportunity to speak to local programs. Search online for service
clubs in your town or city. In most cities, the local Chamber of
Commerce will be at the top of your search. Find out who the program
Chairperson is; they have a tough job and are always looking for
An entertaining, interesting talk on any subject that is well
delivered is always very well received. You now have the opportunity
to make yourself and your business more visible in your community.
How Do You Maximize the Experience?
Be easy to work with.
Write your own short introduction, including the importance of the
subject, and why you are the perfect person to deliver that message.
Make your bio available to them well in advance for their
newsletter. As most organizations now have websites that advertise
the program, also send a good photo and link to your website.
Go early to the event,
and make sure you meet as many people as possible. Find the visitors
from other organizations and mention, “If you enjoy my presentation,
please give my card to your program chair.”
Have a handout or flyer:
develop a one sheet detailing your key points and information on
your topic. Offer a catalogue or brochure, if appropriate. If you’ve
had an article published, make copies for the audience members. Make
sure whatever you offer includes your contact information.
Collect business cards.
If your goal is to develop business contacts, always collect
business cards from the audience members. You can hold a drawing for
small prizes, such as a gift certificate for your business.
Drive traffic to your website or blog.
If your audience is interested in the subject, where can they get
Let them know you are available to speak for other groups.
Just as you did in conversation, before you close your speech
mention, “If you belong to any other organizations that would be
interested in hearing a speech on this subject, feel free to pass
along my card and website.”
Speaking before a group of strangers may be slightly intimidating at
first. Just remember, this is the beginning of many long-term
relationships. Go on! Step up on the podium and profit from the
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