Thursday, December 18, 2014

Austin NSA Chapter - A Home for Professional Speakers in Central Texas to Learn, Grow, and Share

NSA Austin Chapter Board and Advisors

A whole day was invested in planning for 2015 with the board of the Austin Chapter of the National Speakers Association.  Our local board gathered to brainstorm ideas to improve the chapter and better serve our members (and guests).  I have been active on this board for five years, in addition to my role on the "board" of NSA XY (a generational "sub-group" that exists inside the NSA).  

I am often asked why I volunteer time to this organization, when I have so much going with my family, running a business, etc...  Some people avoid their industry associations because of it being made up of "competitors".. but I don't see NSA in that light.  I am active because I get so much from my membership than I ever spend in time (or the money).  In addition to being on these boards, I always attend one or two conferences each year.  My ROI is huge and I would never have succeeded as a speaker without this organization.

Often speakers show up at NSA (locally or nationally) assuming it is a leads group.  They mistakenly believe that their presence will lead to new business. That is not what the organization is about (although there are lots of leads shared between speakers after they have established long-term and mutually beneficial relationships).  These people are quickly disillusioned and leave long before they see the real value

Being a professional speaker is a weird profession.  If you randomly selected ten speakers you would find ten unique businesses.  From outside this industry looks like one thing, but those on the inside quickly learn it is very different from the perceptions.  Being part of NSA has allowed me to learn by observation, and to directly share best-practices with others who choose to live in this nutty world of presenting for a living.

(Of course, I always find value in people. If I was a locksmith, I would be a member of the National Locksmith Association).

Several years ago I was approached by a new speaker who was seeking 
career advice. I told her that my involvement in NSA was key in helping me grow my career. I stated the power in having peers and friends who were working in this business.  It is not just about information or buying coaching from a "guru", but instead the real clarity that comes from seeing your peers find success. She pooh-poohed the idea of joining and shared that her "mentors" told her that NSA was populated by amateurs who made no money (not true).  She was convinced she did not need to join because she was already "above" the members of the association.

I recently ran into this person, and she is no longer pursuing a speaking career.  I asked her why not and she replied, "there is no money in it if you are not famous". I mentioned I am earning a living, and still growing my business.  She rolled her eyes in disbelief.  It stuck in my mind how she ignored the value of having "speaker buddies" and was now out of the industry.  This conversation made me appreciate my affiliation with the NSA even more.  

In our Austin Chapter 2015 planning meeting the local board discussed the good, the bad, and the ugly of our group.  We have had many successful programs over the past 5 years, but we still are seeking more ways in which we can provide value to the local community of professional speakers in our region.  Our team walked away with some real "To Do" items for the next year (I am excited), but I also was inspired with a few ideas for my own business.  I showed up to volunteer, and ended up with new ideas that can impact my own bottom line.  

It is nice to have a warm home of friends who help each other learn, grow and share.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

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