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Working with Speaker’s Bureaus and Agents with Karen Harris

Working with Speaker’s Bureaus and Agents with Jane Atkinson and Karen Harris
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Quote: “A management agency is there to manage the business that you have created to a certain level, and now you’re looking for help because you can’t handle it all.” Karen Harris

Are you ready to look for an agent? Is it time for you to approach a speaker’s bureau? How do you know when you’ve passed the threshold for either? On this episode of The Wealthy Speaker Show, we’re sharing a special Master’s Class Call from the Wealthy Speaker School. The idea behind this is twofold, first, to share the information-packed content and second, to give you an insider’s glimpse of what happens inside the Wealthy Speaker School. We’re thrilled to welcome my long-time friend and agent, Karen Harris, to share her professional opinions about bureaus and agents to help you decide what’s right for you.

Karen is the founder and CEO of CMI Speaker Management. CMI is a global leader in the meetings industry. They represent an international roster of carefully selected knowledge experts who positively impact millions of people.  Through keynote speeches, training and consulting, their topics are both relevant and transformative.

Read Full Transcript

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Jane Atkinson: hey it's jayne atkinson and one of the things that we get questioned on a lot is how do I find an agent, how can I start working with speakers bureaus.

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Jane Atkinson: And I wanted to provide you with a little glimpse into what goes on inside the wealthy speaker school by presenting you with this master's class.

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Jane Atkinson: That we did with my very good friend and longtime agent Karen Harris, now I had two types of motivation for wanting to bring you this first of all.

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Jane Atkinson: it's really amazing information and for those of you at every level, I think you're going to find some really good nuggets in there for for yourself.

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Jane Atkinson: So I wanted to make sure that we were providing you with some awesome content.

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Jane Atkinson: But my second is so that you can kind of have a little look see inside have a peek inside the wealthy speaker school.

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Jane Atkinson: And really see what kind of programming that we deliver every single month at the highest levels so check out wealthy speaker school.com.

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Jane Atkinson: I think you will be absolutely shocked and with how little of an investment, it is for you to get access to these types of experts and get access to this type of content okay enjoy.

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Jane Atkinson: hey welcome everyone to our monthly masters class, today we are talking about working with agents and bureaus we have the amazing characters with us welcome Karen.

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Karen Harris: Thank you very much for having me Jane it's great to see you.

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Jane Atkinson: Now, how many years have we known each other.

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Karen Harris: Well i've been This is my 28th year in the industry, and I think I came inside you it within that very first year.

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Karen Harris: So yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: years we have.

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Jane Atkinson: So Karen and I have both represented one speaker at a time we've done that we've and Karen has gone on to run an agency and we're going to kind of break down.

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Jane Atkinson: three different things for you all today and i'll cover those in a second, but first Karen tell everybody about cmi speakers, that is, the company that you run today.

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Karen Harris: Sure sure we're we're 20 years old this year we started on December 1 22,001 so three months after 911 we spread our wings and yeah started it.

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Karen Harris: When the industry was basically half of what it had been prior to 911 but we had some great people to start with, and we've been going strong and hard ever since.

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Jane Atkinson: And i've always i've always admired your work ethic.

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Karen Harris: You know, it just.

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Karen Harris: feels.

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Jane Atkinson: Like you have been consistently at a high level in your agency for a long period of time okay so for our listeners For those of you who are really seasons.

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Jane Atkinson: hang tight because we've got some good juice, for you as well, but I just want to break it down to three areas number one is that kind of agent speaker relationship which I would like into a marriage.

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Yes.

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Jane Atkinson: Marriage okay so i've done that, for three different speakers you've done that, for a number of speakers okay.

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Jane Atkinson: Then so some of you might be looking for that and we'll talk about maybe how to find that then there's the Agency level where there are people out there who represent.

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Jane Atkinson: Multiple speakers and we'll talk about that and then there's the speaker's bureau level where you are one of thousands of speakers.

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Jane Atkinson: But many speakers bureaus have now developed their exclusives division and so that's become a business model as well, so we're going to break all of those for you and just kind of think if this is for you, what would you even do to get started so let's start with the agent speaker.

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Jane Atkinson: Sure marriage and marriage I represented three speakers that's kk BERT, which was pre you and I meeting.

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Karen Harris: Yes, yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: Peter leg, which was when you flew out to Vancouver to meet with me and then I went down to Dallas to represent vince pesenti and wow that was happening, you are representing who.

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Karen Harris: Ellen hopson and Jamie Clark to mount Everest speakers based up here in Calgary Canada and I walked into their office for an interview to help them be to be their administrator to run their run their business administrative Lee that's what they were looking for.

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Karen Harris: within three months because I could see the potential that they had and.

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Karen Harris: I had some chops that I could bring to the table, I had some promotional capabilities that I could could offer to them within three months we had replaced me and I was in a marketing position for them sales and marketing position.

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Karen Harris: Right so that's where I cut my teeth I learned all about the business from working with Ellen and Jamie.

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Karen Harris: I came and saw you we had heard about this wonderful woman that was working with Peter leg, and you had some X done some expansion work with him into the US and that's where they wanted to go.

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Karen Harris: And I came out and you spent half a day with me and just broaden my horizons, thank you very much for doing that.

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Karen Harris: And so from there We grew their business to a multimillion dollar entity and.

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Karen Harris: Eventually, their partnership, they used to speak as a team actually onstage and eventually their partnership, they decided to dissolve it.

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Karen Harris: And when they dissolved, I went and worked with one of those speakers for a couple more years and then in 2001 we decided that it was time for me to spread my wings and for Jamie who I was working with at the time to go exclusive with a speaker's Bureau that I had recommended to him.

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Jane Atkinson: Right, and so a big part I just want to kind of make sure we're filling in the blanks on the story.

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Jane Atkinson: Now part of my success with vince my success with Peter leg and your success with Jamie was really understanding how to leverage our time and marketing to speakers bureaus.

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Jane Atkinson: And so we we got really good at that so when we were talking about how to work with bureaus we're coming from this from a knowledge that was.

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Jane Atkinson: You know we've.

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Jane Atkinson: done a lot of business with bureaus over the years.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah let's talk hiring one on one here for a second let's say there's a speaker who's looking for I want my agents.

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Jane Atkinson: somebody's going to sell me there's something I want to mention before we even get started in this.

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Jane Atkinson: And that is there's a saying I don't even know where I got this I think probably from brokers deal.

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Jane Atkinson: If you have a problem of not getting enough sales in your business, you need to solve the problem first and then hire to implement the solution.

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Jane Atkinson: Trying to hire to solve the problem when you don't know how to sell yourself will in itself become a problem you're handing your problems to somebody else's.

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Jane Atkinson: system and typically typically that does not work so let's talk about like the clarity that is required before you hire someone clearly Jamie and Allen thought they needed an in person and they.

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Karen Harris: And they get Yes, they did.

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Jane Atkinson: Some of the admin stuff sorted out before you then went on to sales and marketing, which was then your role for many, many years.

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Jane Atkinson: So what do you think in terms of clarity people really need to consider.

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Karen Harris: really need to have a good handle on your value proposition what it is you actually offer to the marketplace, if you don't know that.

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Karen Harris: How would you ever be able to share that with the new person that you're asking.

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Karen Harris: to share and promote that value proposition, if you aren't extremely clear and in this market oh my gosh 28 years later we're now talking about super clarity we're talking you talk a lot about you know you're listening.

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Jane Atkinson: I actually taught you me, and you and I haven't talked in a long time, I actually talked about getting really drilled down on your lane, because if you can bring it down to solving one problem rather than.

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Karen Harris: Trying to be a general, yes I.

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Jane Atkinson: think that you become more and more valuable to people okay so value proposition.

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Jane Atkinson: Is job one.

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Jane Atkinson: yep let's talk about being very clear on whether or not you want the role that you are hiring for to be administrative.

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Jane Atkinson: or sales I used to always talk to vince so vince was could have gotten his CSP has certified speaking professional, but there was a lot of paperwork back.

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Karen Harris: Then yeah I.

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Jane Atkinson: always say to him.

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Jane Atkinson: Do you want me to book you more.

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Jane Atkinson: Business on.

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Your back.

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Karen Harris: yeah.

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Karen Harris: wish the author.

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Jane Atkinson: goes more business.

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Jane Atkinson: And so, be very careful that you don't put your sales person in the position of doing a bunch of.

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Jane Atkinson: More for you, because they're far more valuable to you running sales.

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Karen Harris: Absolutely there's absolutely no question that the person who's doing sales and marketing needs to have the ability to focus on sales and marketing.

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Karen Harris: Having said that they definitely need to understand what I call the back end of the logistical piece of the business, they need to understand it when we train someone here at at our cmi.

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Karen Harris: And we move, we know that we can see, they have potential, we want to move them into sales and marketing we start them on logistics, because if you don't understand how to serve the customer after the deal is is is sold.

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Karen Harris: You don't understand all the intricacies and the things the customer, as the speaker to do after the deal has been sealed wow you don't understand the foundation, the business to me that's the foundation of the business.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay, so so we.

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Karen Harris: yeah you need someone who is willing to who isn't just going to I gotta sell sell you need someone who's willing to learn all aspects of the business.

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Karen Harris: The tire piece of the of the event, the whole booking structure.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay, and so, if you are in the sales role.

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Jane Atkinson: Hours like let's talk about your sales people for cmi hours are they scheduling on their calendar outbound outreach like is there, do you have any kind of.

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Jane Atkinson: mode in your company, where it says Okay, we are all going to do this, many hours about mountain week cuz thinking back to our days back.

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Jane Atkinson: With speakers pretty sure I used to talk at calls a week.

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Karen Harris: yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: We created calls a day.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah I have a horrible memory sorry.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah anyway, it was a lot, it will so numbers, what do you think is required.

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Karen Harris: We don't actually focus in on numbers, we focus in on on the end result we're always looking at how how many inquiries are coming in the door.

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Karen Harris: How how many of those are we closing and how many of those are we actually serving throughout the month.

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Karen Harris: So, because we work with speakers bureaus we may not want to compete with them, so our outreach is very soft sell it is far more.

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Karen Harris: We aren't dialing for dollars, we are not doing cold calls if we make outreach it's to our direct database that has been established over these years.

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Karen Harris: And yes, we definitely promote our entire roster and want to rebook with them right, obviously we want to do that, but our outreach is it's different than it might have been for.

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Karen Harris: indoor date for.

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Jane Atkinson: instance so back when you were selling Jamie you remember what your numbers like we we really were.

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Karen Harris: We were.

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Jane Atkinson: Out there.

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Karen Harris: We did we did, and I, I suspect, you and I probably did it at least 40 types about reaches God, this is really ridiculous, but I used to fax.

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Karen Harris: We use the phone and facts because there was no.

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Karen Harris: This is really.

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Karen Harris: hating us.

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Jane Atkinson: Right, so we all send a call.

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Jane Atkinson: So this was back in the day, but we digress okay so let's say somebody is looking to hire that marriage one on one relationship agent.

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Jane Atkinson: i've always talked about first look in your audiences, because you never know when somebody's going to come up to you and say oh my gosh I love everything you do I would love to work with you there could be in them there hills audiences okay so that's.

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Karen Harris: One day.

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Jane Atkinson: What are some other places, people can look to find that one on one relationship of an agent.

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Karen Harris: Well, somewhat related what what we find works really well is someone and and it's my experience, and I think it was your experience someone who's really interested in their own personal development or personal growth.

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Karen Harris: They may be attending Tony robbins they may be attending you know the art of leadership or whatever kind of events.

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Karen Harris: And they are on their social they're actually talking about what kind of growth they're currently going through the books they're reading the podcasts they're listening to and we're not talking to kind of test airball a lot of people.

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Karen Harris: everybody's into true crime podcast we're talking about the other kinds of podcasts the professional development, the personal development arena for that.

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Jane Atkinson: And and don't forget to use your network to say to cast the net I see we have gabby's on the line and she's at a Dallas you know somewhere in the dfw.

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Jane Atkinson: area be your person, and I do love talk to about this a little bit I love being able to get together with somebody face to face like.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, even if they work from home, but maybe let's just have breakfast once a month or something like this and check in you probably need to have weekly meetings for sure.

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Jane Atkinson: Absolutely face to face there's something cool about that don't you think.

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Karen Harris: it's not just cool to me it's essential the exchange of energy and the only thing I can refer to it is energy that that passionate energy that you have for what you're doing.

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Karen Harris: It doesn't come across quite as well on daily zoom calls or whatever else you might implement if you, you need to see your people, I mean we are we here, we are not hybrid nobody wants to work from home i'm very blessed in that everybody wants to be here.

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Karen Harris: They want to engage.

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Jane Atkinson: You have a physical Office now right you.

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Karen Harris: moved in I do.

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Karen Harris: yeah yeah yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: that's so cool how many TEAM members do you have right now.

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Karen Harris: There are about to be 10 on the 29th will have 10.

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Jane Atkinson: Here okay.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, you're looking for somebody to be your person cast out the net put it out on social, this is what i'm looking I would say, get really, really clear what the.

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Karen Harris: very clear.

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Karen Harris: very clear.

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Jane Atkinson: If you can, if you can delay this higher delay it by adding more virtual assistant type people like more assistant and administrative roles.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, so that you can be the rainmaker because they're freeing you up.

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Karen Harris: I think that absolutely.

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Jane Atkinson: good advice, because this is just a really difficult marriage to get into keep.

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Karen Harris: And it is a marriage.

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Karen Harris: yeah I always considered myself as ELENA ELENA Jamie second wife.

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Karen Harris: Yes, because we run their business we, in essence, are, as you said, the rainmaker we are creating the opportunities and, yes, definitely they were extremely helpful, both in terms of any pre conference pre.

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Karen Harris: booking calls that we set up for them or or being so incredible on stage all of that is huge, however, if we aren't doing our part on the phone at that time on the facts now on email on social on text if we aren't really engaging and passionate about what we're selling.

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Karen Harris: we're not going to help that person right, so we definitely are like a second wife, we are very invested.

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Jane Atkinson: So, once we have them hired we can focus them on whatever are three core outreach programs are you know, some people will focus on only one niche only one.

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Jane Atkinson: You know we're.

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Jane Atkinson: giving you the person the go to person.

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Jane Atkinson: who works with dealers or franchise.

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Karen Harris: or insurance right.

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Jane Atkinson: Some focus and also give them some training, I would say a lot of training on the front end rather than saying Okay, I need this many engagements here's my.

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Karen Harris: web APP.

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Jane Atkinson: Too late way oh now go, we really need to spend a lot of time and energy bring them out to your speaking engagements and make sure that they really are standing beside you when the people are coming up in line up to talk to you.

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Jane Atkinson: So they can hearing exactly they are saying.

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yeah.

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Karen Harris: I would recommend also that that this person that you hire actually sit in on your Conference calls so once an event is booked they hear you how you talk about your material and your message.

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Karen Harris: They hear you on a conference call, but also for a period of time, however long it takes whether it's one month six months, however long it takes.

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Karen Harris: You do the calls and they are shadowing you, and they are learning and they, in essence, you I believe you and I became clones.

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Karen Harris: I had lots of agents say to me talking to you is like talking to Jane Clark or Alan hodgson So if you can become that cloned individual that's what you want, you want someone who's going to hear you.

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Karen Harris: and repeat you as much as they possibly can, while they're Personalizing it right, based on their own experience of you.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah I love it, we can find people who maybe are going through a change of life.

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Jane Atkinson: You know, maybe they're coming to the market after finishing up with their kids so to find them let's start with our audiences let's move out to our social media network, I would not advertise I would advertise only as a last resort.

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Jane Atkinson: I would really try hard to get some ideas.

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Jane Atkinson: From my social media network and say this is exactly what i'm looking for, if you have any idea and then hopefully we'll get some.

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Jane Atkinson: Results from that and okay so let's move on to.

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Karen Harris: an agent Oh, could I before we go there, can I just mentioned.

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Karen Harris: we've had really good success.

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Karen Harris: With a posting on linkedin, but we have been very clear about what we were looking for like super clear.

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Karen Harris: And, and as a result we've been able to hire some really influential people.

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Karen Harris: Now we're talking to be agency here.

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Jane Atkinson: that's awesome and and that's what linkedin is really all about.

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Karen Harris: And that's what it's about.

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Jane Atkinson: So it could be a perfect fit.

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Jane Atkinson: OK so moving on to an agency an agency might wrap you have what 10 speakers in your roster.

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Karen Harris: Correct yep.

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Jane Atkinson: So, and I just want to give a shout out to some of the other agents out there who I absolutely adore Darren Powell has an agency now.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes.

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Jane Atkinson: Other the speaker's bureau i'm holly catch Paul was my idol when I.

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Karen Harris: First, yes.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, history, Michelle does she go by George Joyce Joyce.

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Karen Harris: Michelle Joyce.

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Jane Atkinson: Joyce awesome number of speaker and awesome roster who else who are some other agents that are out there, taking in you know, maybe up to 10 speakers.

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Karen Harris: Oh krista have a stop with the Agency is still up there as well, diane Goodman at Goodman management as well.

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Karen Harris: i'm trying to Member who else there's there's a whole bunch that have actually created and they're now members of the International Association of speakers bureaus So if you want to check out those agencies great place to go ISP web.org.

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Jane Atkinson: Is I Asp Web.

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Jane Atkinson: dot.org probably scan the list I don't know if they have them separated out when you do your search but.

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Karen Harris: They actually don't method really good suggestion.

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Karen Harris: Okay i'll have to make that one.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, yes for sure okay Now I want to, I want to share the differences in term.

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Jane Atkinson: So when you hire.

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Jane Atkinson: an agent just for yourself you're going to work out the deal, whatever the heck you want it to be and that's going to be you and your agent typically it's a base plus Commission that's pretty typical for that relationship right.

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Jane Atkinson: When you get to the Agency level.

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Jane Atkinson: it's actually somewhat similar, is it not a base or some sort of what do you call your monthly retainer.

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Karen Harris: I I call it a retainer management retainer.

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Jane Atkinson: or retainer and plus a Commission and going to be an extra Commission on things that are booked through bureaus or what have used there's going to be a direct Commission and then a different.

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Jane Atkinson: A different percentage for bureau book business, and so you really want to be in the position to be able to afford this person now That being said, let me give you.

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Jane Atkinson: A time when that absolutely didn't happen, I was working for Peter leg, and because we were like in this marriage.

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Jane Atkinson: And he was at that time I don't know I don't even remember what how old he was, but I was really worried that I was going to work him into the ground I think his family was really worried that I was.

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Jane Atkinson: Working into the ground, and so we doubled his business and then after a couple of years, I said look i'm going to go, so I.

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Jane Atkinson: Left and I went down to Dallas to work for vince pesenti and he had no money to afford me but we worked out a very creative deal, where he just paid my bills and like.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah because he had zero business coming in the door when I arrived, and then we doubled his business, year after year up to getting him to a seven figure company as well.

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Jane Atkinson: But, but sometimes you have to get creative if you know where there's a will.

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Jane Atkinson: there's kind of.

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Jane Atkinson: Stay about it.

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Jane Atkinson: But yeah should be in a position to be able to afford.

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Jane Atkinson: Somebody and you should definitely be able to sell your soul first so okay you're moving on to an agency now and an agency might have 10 speakers you're gonna want people who are going to make your phone ring, am I am I off base on that.

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Karen Harris: In the Agency world do you want someone who's going to make your phone ring, yes, you want someone who's going to definitely pull business towards you, and they will do it each agency will do it differently.

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Karen Harris: All right, but.

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Karen Harris: Management Agency is there to manage business that's the traditional concept around a Management Agency there to manage the business that you have created to a certain level.

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Karen Harris: And now you are looking for help, because you can't handle it all you can handle all the incoming inquiries on a regular basis.

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Jane Atkinson: And that is like the perfect time to hire is when you're losing business because you cannot handle.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, inquiries okay.

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Karen Harris: let's know that that's the perfect time to do it is when you're you know that oh my gosh i'm not present on each of these phone calls when I am on a.

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Karen Harris: Pre booking call the client i'm not present, because I know i've got one in 15 minutes and I got to get off to get that one when you've got that kind of churn going on.

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Karen Harris: When you need to be looking for help.

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Karen Harris: But it's a very good problem.

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Jane Atkinson: to hire OK, now the agencies.

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Jane Atkinson: are typically everybody that we've mentioned so far.

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Jane Atkinson: One exception in there to.

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Jane Atkinson: There looking for a speaker, who is a certain fee level and above so if you're looking if you're if you're fees let's say five to $10,000 then probably that one on one agent might be the best solution for you.

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Karen Harris: Yes, yes.

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Jane Atkinson: Look, if you're probably 50 well what would you say your average booking is in your agency.

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Karen Harris: we're over 20 K.

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Karen Harris: we've got a fairly high level of the roster.

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Karen Harris: But we grew to that right, I started out booking 7500 hundred dollar speakers and we've grown to booking 40 plus thousand dollar speakers so.

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Karen Harris: yeah that I mean that has evolved over time in our world we're looking for a speaker in that 15 K plus range, preferably 20 K plus range just because of the of all that we do for them, we do an you know we're different than other agencies to some degree.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah and we may have some people on the line here once we stop past and open up for Q amp a we might have some people here who are in that range that are good fit for you.

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Jane Atkinson: Who are around private coaching clients of mine so so okay i'm agency level definitely we're looking at higher fees and you've got to probably have your marketing ready are.

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Jane Atkinson: You ready.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah just say that most agencies are not going to launch a speaker unless you're some sort of unicorn like I don't know, leaving a massive company and you've already got tons of.

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Jane Atkinson: inquiry isn't like you have some sort of big bio or something what would be what would be a unicorn situation for you or maybe like.

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Jane Atkinson: Maybe i'll take this one on even though you're necessarily launched as a.

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Karen Harris: speaker i've done that a couple of times and and the most the best example I can give that most people would probably know about has been jang.

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Karen Harris: been was doing very well over in Australia decided he wanted to tap into the American market and.

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Karen Harris: left something on social media and nobody responded to him to him for about three or four months and I happen to.

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Karen Harris: You know otter God I happen to run across it and there, he was and I watched this video and I went he's got that thing he's got it he's got whatever it is that you want to call it he's got the charisma he's got the package.

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Karen Harris: And so I took a chance, he had zero business when he came.

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Karen Harris: When he started moving over here, and he flew from Australia to the US to do his individual bookings it was an insane time, but he was incredible on stage and we use the the speaker bureau industry a lot to help launch him so he's you know I will look at somebody from another country.

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Karen Harris: People are very much interested in diversity and inclusion kind of topics today and therefore color race etc all of those things come into play.

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Karen Harris: So i'll look at someone from another country with you know, to see what they're doing on stages over there and happily now launch them into the US, whereas 510 years ago I wouldn't I wouldn't have looked at that.

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Jane Atkinson: And I want to point people towards your website cmi speakers.com want to see thing and the rest of the people that you have on your roster just to get a feel for what level, you are booking at I think that.

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Jane Atkinson: that's very interesting so okay let's cross into working with speakers bureaus which you and I have done a lot of in our career.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah our foot in the door, so with being, for instance, they didn't know him times hearing it from a voice of authority somebody that they know.

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Jane Atkinson: Already can be very helpful, so you probably have to introduce them to some other people, and you had to relationships, because of working with Jamie and Alan in the early days.

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Jane Atkinson: How important is relationship when presenting a speaker a new speaker to a speaker's bureau.

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Karen Harris: absolutely paramount, because you have developed a relationship of trust with that agency and specific agents and if you say I put my mark, I stand behind this particular man or woman, and this is, who I think will really help you to expand your business with your clients this year.

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Karen Harris: That makes a huge huge difference.

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Karen Harris: I think not.

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Karen Harris: It does it really does, and yes, it really makes a difference as well when another speaker sets to a speaker's bureau hey.

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Karen Harris: i've seen him X number of times i've seen her X number of times they're amazing and here's why and you need to be booking.

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Karen Harris: When another speaker that they trust that they've had great success with does the same thing comes from a management company such as myself or comes from another speaker it's huge.

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Karen Harris: it's huge.

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Jane Atkinson: or number three on that list is if a client says.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, yet me or.

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Jane Atkinson: We yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: We booked we didn't use you instead we booked somebody direct.

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Jane Atkinson: Exactly or I keep hearing about this speaker let's go ahead and see if we can get them a client a client word takes and reputation, so if you're already working with one or two speakers bureaus or.

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Jane Atkinson: forum or however many.

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Jane Atkinson: asked them like who are your buds in the industry, you go to ISP so you know Karen that they all talk to each other.

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Karen Harris: Yes, thank you.

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Jane Atkinson: Everybody is not in their own little silo in this world, they.

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Jane Atkinson: know each other up speaker has a great reputation and let's just say what keeps the speakers bureaus coming in toward you is spin off.

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Karen Harris: yeah absolutely.

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Jane Atkinson: Once and you get two or three more engagement than you are now becoming the we call it flavor of the month with.

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Karen Harris: Yes, yeah yeah exactly.

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Karen Harris: And it is a flavor, it is a flavor for a period of time because they'll go through the appropriate client list that you.

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Karen Harris: attract and, in time, and sometimes it takes three months, sometimes it takes one to two years for you to run through that particular speakers bureaus roster of clients.

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Karen Harris: they'll come back so long as you stay relevant so long as you continue to grow and expand and your material and your message they'll come back, but it might be a hiatus may take a hiatus from you, for a period of time before you see more bookings.

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Jane Atkinson: So we have a question from rick Why should a speaker consider shifting from a va to an agency and my two cents would be, it would be based on kind of fee level and the various agencies out there, most of the ones that I know are probably the 15 K and above.

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Jane Atkinson: Right, you say about when.

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Jane Atkinson: When should a speaker consider that.

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Karen Harris: Sure, I wreck I would look what I can only tell you what we look for.

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Karen Harris: We look for someone who's been doing somewhere between 25 and 50 events consistently for for the last couple of years now, we obviously had to make some adjustments due to call, but when we went virtual.

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Karen Harris: But still, if our if a speaker didn't wasn't able to convert from in person to a reasonable number of virtual than that actually decreases our interest in them, because we want people who can do both.

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Karen Harris: Today is, you have to be capable of doing very good virtually and very good in persons, so we look for 25 to 50 per year for the last couple of years and we like that 15 K and above preferably 20 K, is where is our real sweet spot.

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Karen Harris: Okay, does that answer for rick.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, and, and so what we need to find out rick is for the agencies that you're looking at what is their average fee, what do they require, in terms of video and marketing, etc, and it could be that your clothes or or it could be that okay one or two more years and you're going to be there.

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yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: So, also be prepared to spend some money on a monthly basis on your agency I don't want to ask you specifically for numbers but can we give a range like.

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Jane Atkinson: 1500 to $4,000 or something, am I.

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Karen Harris: sure.

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Karen Harris: Is that what.

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Jane Atkinson: you're it.

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Karen Harris: yeah because we do a lot of coaching and mentoring and advisory work for our speakers on positioning and branding and business development and growth in terms of their message right we we are anywhere from 1000 a month to 2020 500 per month, and it always depends on.

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Karen Harris: The volume that they bring or don't and the amount of work that we feel we need to invest to actually get them to the next level they're going to come to come in at this level, and we want to go here.

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Karen Harris: How much work do we they and we have to do to actually get them to that level so i'm pretty subjective it's subjective, for me, I look at it and I.

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Karen Harris: I kind of we date I you know I take for a while before yeah yeah because we become that second wife that real true business partner it's really important that our values are very similar that I understand a lot about their message before we even decide that we're going to work together.

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Jane Atkinson: And I think a values match is always something to look for.

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Jane Atkinson: Huge you have someone who is in a different part of their life and you're just kind of want to take it easy they may not be the right fit for.

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Karen Harris: You right that's right.

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Jane Atkinson: There was something else that I wanted to bring up with regards to that oh okay it's gone.

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Karen Harris: that's gonna come back.

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Jane Atkinson: I think that there's a lot of speakers bureaus now who are running exclusives divisions and let's just put in a couple of ideas about when do you go exclusive with a particular bureau.

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Jane Atkinson: Because I had a few clients who have come into relationships and then they've come back out of relationships.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, and.

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Jane Atkinson: What I think we should say it well, let me ask you do you think that bureaus are great at co brokering their exclusives now Is this something that's gotten better and better over time, or are they still a.

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Karen Harris: Little reluctant.

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Jane Atkinson: To like give me.

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Karen Harris: Not it's not so much reluctance, people are there more they are more open to co brokering than they were that that.

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Karen Harris: That trust relationship has been much more established, however, everyone is experiencing the same kind of financial pressures that the rest of the world are.

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Karen Harris: And so, when you co broker you share that 25% Commission, or you know, some people pay 30 we pay 25 to bureaus but you share that you share that 20 12.5 you get 12.5 and and the other party gets 12.5 so when you're looking to do a deal.

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Karen Harris: you're going to put preference, I mean I can't believe that any bureau wouldn't agree that they would put preference towards a deal that's going to bring them up full Commission.

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Jane Atkinson: Oh Commission okay so that's something to think about if you're not getting all of the business that you want from that one bureau and and like we talked about earlier, you might be flavor of the month, but.

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Jane Atkinson: We don't know how long it's gonna last fall that's right that's right maybe you stay non exclusives because.

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Jane Atkinson: If you've been working hard to build up to like 15 bureaus are booking you and they all really, really love you, and then you tell them oh i've just gone exclusive with ABC bureau.

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Jane Atkinson: wow.

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Jane Atkinson: And exactly to split the Commission.

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Jane Atkinson: that's right.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah now let's talk about yes 25% some bureaus charge or some speakers will pay 30%.

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Jane Atkinson: commissions out there there's also a net fee have some speakers who are dealing in net fees tell me what that means.

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Jane Atkinson: sure this is gross fee let's just map that out.

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Karen Harris: yeah net fees are you you decide on a particular fee that you want to receive every time and let's say it's 25,000 However, the Bureau or agent.

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Karen Harris: Has the has your permission to sell you at a higher rate, whether that be plus 25% plus 30 plus 40 or whatever they can sell you for when you go net you set your price that you don't go go below you always they always have to send send you that net price.

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Jane Atkinson: So you're going to get 25 every time.

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Karen Harris: Every time.

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Jane Atkinson: The danger, I see with that, and you know, once you get to 30 and above Oregon all.

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Jane Atkinson: bets are off, you can do what you want, because you're commanded good good fee.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, but they might add on five they might add on 10 they might add on.

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Jane Atkinson: Exactly seems that a lot of clients are paying different fees for you.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah some people are totally fine with that so keeping a gross Commission, I think, as long as you can so that it remains consistent out there in the marketplace, in my mind would be desirable, do you think.

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Jane Atkinson: Would you.

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Karen Harris: feel well and the majority of bureaus don't really enjoy working with next speakers, the majority of them just say what's your gross what what should I charge you whoa that right which is.

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Jane Atkinson: Saying okay.

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Karen Harris: it's been an interesting transition because we went met with a couple of speakers both.

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Karen Harris: About Cobra time, two years ago and it's been fascinating to experience some bureaus there's the bigger bureau is you know, Washington and leading authorities.

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Karen Harris: Harry Walker they deal in net all the time they understand the concept there's no questions.

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Karen Harris: But the MID size or smaller bureaus they just want to know your gross just tell me how much I gotta charge the client and then i'll send you X amount of money so.

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Karen Harris: When we did our fee schedule, we did, both because, as time evolved I ended up doing both this is the gross it's a charge, and this is the Net, we always want to see so.

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Jane Atkinson: right since we're talking money let's talk travel inclusive.

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Jane Atkinson: A travel like a bulk travel fee and 1500 2500 oh what talk a little bit about what your people are doing right now.

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Karen Harris: everybody's doing something well, not everybody a couple of them are doing it this way, and a couple of doing it that way for a couple of my higher fee speakers they're flat fee includes air only.

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Karen Harris: So we're looking at you know somewhere between 2000 and $3,000 for a flat fee for just airfare for my higher.

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Karen Harris: fee speakers, and then the 20 to 25 ish range they're looking more in the 1500 to 2000 and some of them will add in air and air ground and meals into that and others actually will add in for a full flat fee the hotel as well, so it really is dependent on the speaker.

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Karen Harris: Okay that's kind of the ranges we're dealing with.

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Jane Atkinson: I know my client David on the line here, he was asking me the other day at what point, is it acceptable, do you think for, and if we go flat fee, then I think it takes it off the table, but to charge first class.

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Jane Atkinson: for you to back to your clients so would you say that if you do like the 1500 to 2000 or the 20 $500 flat rate travel fee that it doesn't.

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Karen Harris: It yeah and against it yeah it really negates at the time that we when we've gone first class for a couple of our speakers it's been overseas.

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Karen Harris: International customers get that concept, if you have a health related problem i've had that situation where speakers have had health related issues, and they need extra space, because of their legs, or whatever.

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Karen Harris: thrombosis in the legs etc i've had that situation and so we've we've weeks, why not just say hey he's got this condition and he needs to be in business, and so this is a speech okay good.

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Jane Atkinson: All right, so a lot of things to think about when it comes to finding an agent when it comes to hiring an agency when it comes to going.

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Jane Atkinson: exclusive non exclusive with them bureau remember that once you get your foot in the door, with a Bureau you become a part of their database and how many of.

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Jane Atkinson: You think are in an average speaker's bureau database.

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Karen Harris: couple thousand.

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Jane Atkinson: I would say some bureaus probably have 10 or 15.

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Jane Atkinson: Exactly and their goal is to pare it down so that they really you know.

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Jane Atkinson: kind of know to.

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Jane Atkinson: them, yes, yes, yes, and so just know that that's step one what is an idea, let me get let me have a what not to do with bureaus and what to do with bureaus that would help build the relationship.

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Karen Harris: when most people want to ensure that they get all the information that they need don't give it all to them at one time they're like anybody else just drip some information, a little bit at a time.

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Karen Harris: And don't hold them don't hound them they're like any other clients, they are a client a potential client and so.

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Karen Harris: treat them as you would any other potential client if you have a drip marketing campaign do the same thing with the Bureau.

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Karen Harris: In the they're just like you and me they they're going to respond or not.

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Karen Harris: There and typically it's going to take what what is calling process say now it's 20 some touches to actually get it's huge it's a huge numbers of touches that you need to make to a client, in this day and age, so you just have to be persistent.

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Jane Atkinson: And can we safely stone add them to your newsletter list without their.

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Karen Harris: New link.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes.

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Jane Atkinson: I get a lot of unsolicited newsletters and I.

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Karen Harris: Would yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: No, no, and I think in order to ingratiate some people will hand a piece of business over, but my advice would be why don't we wait until we're kind of close let's.

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Jane Atkinson: let's see if we haven't dated a little bit first before we hand over a piece of business like absolutely put you on hold a couple of times and didn't get the business okay.

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Jane Atkinson: Now we've got a deal that we've booked let's just run it through the Bureau and give them the Commission and get them all started, you want to do that, is there any other techniques like that that you've ever done that will kind of tip tip the scale in your favor.

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Karen Harris: One of the things that we've done is and it took some work, but we were able to bring a Bureau at the speaker's expense to see that speaker.

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Jane Atkinson: Oh yeah.

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Karen Harris: Present and it made a huge difference and it started things for us so that's that's been a really.

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Karen Harris: beneficial thing to do, and it, you know when you're starting out, it may not be the most effective cost effective for you to do, however, it's an re effective if they see you speak and you wow that audience.

347
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Karen Harris: And then you meet with them for coffee afterwards and you allow them by your wonderful personality their their everybody, they are like everybody else they want to book you because they like you.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah okay go so great investment.

349
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Jane Atkinson: The belt backed off version is you are flying into their town.

350
00:45:12.270 --> 00:45:19.770
Jane Atkinson: And yes, right them to come and see you speak maybe you stay on an extra day and do an office visit.

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Jane Atkinson: We buy everybody lunch as a form of bureau agent, I can say everybody buys pizza so.

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Jane Atkinson: Many all out and get six years, something to impress you.

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Karen Harris: Do something different when when we do bureau visits we we call up the.

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Karen Harris: The assistant, or whoever, and say hey Where do they like to bring lunch in when you bring lunch and where do you like to bring lunch in from, and we always do something that's different, as you said, than the usual pizza.

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Jane Atkinson: Nice Nice.

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Jane Atkinson: So I think that those are some great relationship builders when it comes to working with bureaus and please everybody just know.

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Jane Atkinson: This is a marathon not a sprint.

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Karen Harris: Very much, though.

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Jane Atkinson: it's a long term, you are doing business today Karen I would suspect with people that you have known for 15 and 20 years in this business right.

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28.

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Karen Harris: yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: Imagine at imagine that you're in this for the long haul.

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Jane Atkinson: And that your relationships, I remember Gil Gil Davis from GDA speakers in Dallas calling me once and saying.

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Jane Atkinson: there's a speaker named blah blah blah, and I think he's one of yours, she saw something in his.

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Jane Atkinson: email address or something that made her think of me I think he's one of yours, I I heard some couple of things about him, so I was being very cautious.

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Jane Atkinson: But then when I found out he worked with you, I thought i'd give them another chance, do you know this person, and I said no that's not one of mine and she's like oh okay i'm going to continue to steer clear.

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Jane Atkinson: And relationships.

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Jane Atkinson: it's all about in.

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Jane Atkinson: This industry and.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah For those of you tuning in on the podcast I really hope you'll just take the time and build the relationships solve your problems first before you go out and.

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Jane Atkinson: hire them away, and I want to say thank you Karen Harris, for being a part of this with us cmi speakers.com if anybody thinks that they might be a good fit for you, what kind of topics are you looking for right now.

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Karen Harris: Well, we are definitely looking for someone in the innovation and futures market.

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Karen Harris: We have some some opportunities there definitely i'm thinking about an inspirational motivational but has to have a really good message to go with it and also diversity wouldn't mind having some more diversity opportunities female speakers on my roster.

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Karen Harris: With you know areas that are really that clients are really looking at sure they're looking for, especially because of the situation with the economy, people are looking at economists all that kind of thing.

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Karen Harris: I have it's not really my area of passion, when I you know economists are not really my area of passion, but being on the but being on that borderline business growth business development from a financial aspect i'd look there as well.

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Jane Atkinson: yeah coming forward into potentially a recession, you really exactly you can hit him manage that I might have.

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Jane Atkinson: Something for you i'll talk to you about this awful.

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Karen Harris: Okay okay.

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Jane Atkinson: Well, for those of you listening to the podcast Thank you so much for being here with us check out cmi speakers.com for more about Karen Karen Thank you so.

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Karen Harris: Much Thank you Jane.

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Jane Atkinson: for joining us and with that we'll say see you soon i'll be speakers.

 

Highlights you won’t want to miss:

  • How CMI came to be. [2:45]
  • Get super clear on your value proposition. [8:00]
  • Seeking out an agent. [15:00]
  • How the money works. [12:00]
  • The “agency fee level(s).” [27:00]
  • Getting your foot in the door. [31:00]
  • Co-brokering, net fees, and travel charges. [37:00]
  • Dos and don’ts for bureaus. [44:00]


Karen started CMI in 2001, just three months after the meetings industry was rocked by 911. She cares deeply about changing the world…one speech at a time. Her incomparable all-female team is comprised of individuals who believe in this mission and work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives and businesses of all their clients.

If you need a little help deciding where you are in your speaking career, if you’re ready for bureaus and agents and what path to follow, you simply can’t afford to miss this episode!

I hope you’ll download and learn. 

Links:

CMI Speaker Management
IASB
Karen’s LinkedIn profile
Jane’s LinkedIn profile
The Wealthy Speaker School

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