Ian Anderson Gray On The Business And Personal Sides Of Conference Speaking

Ian Anderson Gray On The Business And Personal Sides Of Conference Speaking

The Inside Scoop On Speaking Gigs

Today we’re joined (again!) by our second favorite Brit and Chief Executive Research Dude Ian Anderson Gray because he recently spoke at a conference called Social Media Summit Ireland and we want to hear all about it.

Paid Or Unpaid?

We talk a lot about not doing stuff for free, and that can include refusing to speak at an event if you’re not paid to do it. But there are some pretty big events that don’t pay speakers, and yet they seem to get great speakers every time. How is that possible?

The thing for Ian is not so much what the literal dollar amount is, but the long-term benefits of participating in the events.

Ian says, “It’s all about connecting with other people. You never know what’s going to happen.” Ian has built relationships, engaged in masterminds with people he has met and developed a referral network that has contributed tremendously to the growth of his business.

So even though he didn’t get paid for the event, he did profit from it – not just financially in the long term, but personally, professionally and emotionally. He got a lot of value out of sharing ideas and learning from other people. And, as Ian admits, it was fun!

Fun Is Underrated

Ian says something we agree with wholeheartedly, and that’s that sometimes we all take ourselves too seriously. We do our jobs seriously and take our competition seriously and sometimes lose ourselves in things like process and progress and productivity.

But going to an industry conference can be a great opportunity to meet new people – especially those you may only know online – and have some fun. Sometimes it’s what happens in between the sessions and after hours that makes the biggest impact.

And since we mentioned competition… we also agree that people who work with the competition are far more successful than those who merely compete. In our business, we’ve gotten referrals from people who would be considered competitors, and we’ve referred business to them. Because not every client is right for every person and not every job is right for us – or you.

So even if you’re not attending a conference, it’s a good idea to think about how you can tap into that power to grow your own business, whether through networking, masterminding or just being a good human.

Travel Takes A Personal Toll

This all sounds amazing but it makes us wonder how Ian balances his international speaking with work and family. It’s true that all that travel can be tough. Ian misses Helen (our first favorite Brit) and his kids. He doesn’t want to miss time with them growing up.

It’s also time consuming. All those days and hours he’s travelling are days and hours he isn’t doing any client work.

So Ian has decided to limit his speaking to a certain number per year so that he can do what he loves – teaching and speaking – and still be with those he loves – his family.

We knew that guy was smart!

Why Are You Speaking?

Ian says that you have to be honest with yourself about why you’re speaking. And whether it’s even right for you. But you may not know that unless you actually do it. The day before his first speaking engagement, Ian says he was a nervous wreck. He had no idea why he had agreed to speak in the first place.

But once he got in a groove on stage, he realized that he loved it. He loved making people laugh, communicating and educating. He still gets nervous but he says that if you’re not nervous – if it’s too easy – you probably don’t care anymore and should reconsider why you’re doing it. Being nervous can actually help keep you on your game.

Links & Resources

Ralph M. Rivera
Hi, I'm Ralph! I'm a web developer at Rahvalor Interactive, a creative marketing services company that I founded in 1999 with my wife and business partner Carol Lynn. In January 2012 we created Web.Search.Social as a branded service offering that brings enterprise-level services to small businesses in an affordable way. I'm also founder and CTO of Podcaster's Toolbox, a SaaS platform designed to help podcasters plan, produce and promote their shows. I teach web development at Manhattan College in New York City. Carol Lynn and I are home based near the Jersey shore but we're currently location independent and traveling the country for a year, working and podcasting. I'm also trying to build a flux capacitor, but that's not going as well as the other stuff I do.
Ralph M. Rivera
Ralph M. Rivera
  • Do we all agree time is money? I think speakers should be compensated, financially. Yes, even speakers at social media conferences.

    For those who have never written a speech or prepared for a presentation, let me be the first to tell you it’s a lot of hard work!! You can’t just throw something together last minute or, worse yet, wing it once you get in front of your audience. It takes time, energy, patience, creativity, lots of editing, rehearsing, and maybe even a few stiff drinks to prepare for a speaking gig. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re full of crap.

    I understand what Ian’s saying about the wonderful “exposure” you get and the new “friends and possible referrals” you gain by speaking for free. It’s definitely an opportunity to grow your network. However, I stand my ground in saying time is $$.

    • A smart person I know named Kaarina said that you can’t find time, you can’t make time, you can only TAKE time. As for money, money comes and money goes but you can never recover your time!

      • Righty-O! (Smart gal that Kaarina) 😉 It TAKES time to prepare for a speaking gig.

        As far as time goes, you can’t store it up, hoard it, or anything of the kind. You can only use it up or, of course, waste it.

        • I’m smiling 🙂 Early in my career I did a lot of “free”…free consultations, free speaking gigs, free pick-my-brain-coffee-dates. What did I discover? People generally (not always, but generally) don’t appreciate “free”. The person who charges for their time/expertise/talent is seen to be “of value”, whereas the person who offers for free is quite often taken advantage of…of their own volition of course. It takes two to tango.
          I do understand what Ian says, and I do believe that once you’ve built a “platform” and following, you can do some things for free, because it expands upon an already solid platform. But I’m not so sure that doing things for free doesn’t set up a potentially dangerous precedent.
          I do believe in giving, but giving by choice, and I think that’s what Ian’s talking about. Choosing the places and spaces whereby the giving is done for the pure pleasure and satisfaction of giving, vs. being tapped on the shoulder (over and over and over) to do something for free. I learned the hard way 🙂 Cheers!

          • I think lots of us do “free” but hopefully we eventually learn to stop. I understand the networking and all that, and yes, people are free to choose to do things for free, but these are not FREE conferences. On the contrary, some of them are quite expensive. So it befuddles me that they would not pay speakers, especially if they want a quality, prestigious event.

            It’s a little bit chicken-and-egg because there are always going to be people who will do stuff for free (or for their 15 minutes of fame) which puts downward pressure on everyone. We’re a product of our own celebrity culture – we want to be at all the hot events at whatever cost to ourselves. If we stopped doing free, it would stop being a thing. Ugh. Soapbox. NEXT!

          • Precisely. Ditto that! Some of the social media events, in particular, cost hundreds of dollars to attend (plus the cost of your transportation, meals, and lodging). For the love of everything holy, the speakers should get paid! It’s not like the event manager/host isn’t making a profit. You know they are.

    • Those people speaking is what draws those wanting to be larger in social media to those conferences. Absolutely they should be compensated. They are the ones who did the work, learned what works and have the knowledge to share.

  • Two things. 1. People usually offer to pay me to shut up… 2. Someone needs to inform Ian, once you are friends with Ralph, nothing can ever be “proper” again. Be it a job, life, existence.