Posting a Rejected Speaking Proposal

I’m going to start posting winning and rejected proposals on this blog to try to paint a clearer picture on what works and what doesn’t – although I’m not sure it will actually bring clarity but hopefully will bring some learning. Below is my most recent submission to Blogworld that was not accepted. I’m not going to make any commentary or assumptions at the moment about why it wasn’t. I just believe there is value in publishing all of the pieces to the equation of “getting more women speakers into biz/tech/venture conferences.”

Please note: I’m not picking on Blogworld in any way. I just have more immediate experience working with them – I spoke at Blogworld 2009 and have had ongoing conversations with Rick Calvert and Deb Ng – and they are willing to participate in addressing any real or perceived imbalances in thoughtful ways. I appreciate their candor and support.

I do have some theories on what works and doesn’t in terms of bringing more women to the fore at major biz/tech/venture conferences. I’ll be blogging about those thoughts later along with interviews of conference organizers; keynoters and other speakers, both male and female; and conference attendees to share all sides of this picture.

This proposal was based on two blog posts I wrote for Web Worker Daily:

How to Know a Good Fan on Facebook
How to Convert Your Facebook Superfans Into Brand Ambassadors

The Birth, Care and Feeding of Your Social Media Superfan

What is a Superfan in social media? And how can you tap into their power to enhance the value of your social media marketing efforts?

Superfans can provide us with Attention, Participation, Interaction, Loyalty, and Evangelism but how do we tap into those qualities in appropriate and effective ways?

Many of us are building our presences in social media channels, but we aren’t considering what we can provide to our Friends, Fans and Followers (FFFs) and what we’d like to get in return. We need to understand how to leverage the power of the Superfan.

Learn how to:

  • Recognize your Superfans;
  • Reward your Superfans;
  • Leverage the power of Superfans;
  • Avoid Fan backlash; and
  • Convert your Superfans into Brand Ambassadors.

You’ll hear examples of companies that have leveraged their Superfans with solid and positive impacts on their social media marketing efforts.

Learn how to develop your own Social Media Superfan and Brand Ambassador programs including:

  • What to monitor in Social Media to find your Superfans;
  • How to vet your Superfans before approaching them;
  • How to properly approach your Superfans;
  • What to offer Superfans and when to do it;
  • How to elevate Superfans to Brand Ambassadors.

Also learn best practices for avoiding backlash including how to engage transparently.

My proposal followed the guidelines of the Blogworld submission process and were written as components submitted into a submission form. There was also a section for biography which I submitted although I don’t have a copy. Chances are it was based on this bio.

Would you be willing to share your accepted and/or rejected speaker proposals and any learnings you’ve gained from the speaker submission process? Please feel free to share in the comments here or get in touch with me through this blog.

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On GeekFeminism: Finding more women to speak at Ohio LinuxFest

Here’s a post outlining a clear process for getting more female speakers at a tech conference.

Given Terri’s recent post about the same few women always being speakers, I thought this would be a good place to write about how one conference I help out with, Ohio LinuxFest, has tried to expand their array of women speakers. For those interested in pretty graphs, I’ve been graphing women speaker proportions at various LinuxFests on the GeekFeminism Wiki. This post was co-authored with Moose J. Finklestein, the Content Chair.

Some conference organisers will say “we didn’t get any submissions from women” to explain the lack of women on their stages. As of two years ago, the Ohio LinuxFest was in that category. With a little outreach effort, and embracing diversity as a core value, the Ohio LinuxFest has successfully recruited more women to share their experience at OLF.

Read more…

I’ll Take Chris Brogan’s Cast Offs

Chris Brogan recently announced that he’s cutting back on speaking engagements. He blogged:

In 2011, I’m cutting back my amount of time on the road. My family has been lovely at letting me get out there as often as I have been, but with new company obligations and with my family wanting me home a little more often, I’m going to pull back some of my availability on the road. Here’s how that will work.

Every month, I will be available for a total of three (3) paid speaking engagements, and (1) industry event (meaning something that pertains to my industry – like BlogWorld Expo). Thus, if you’re holding an event in January, and you’re interested in getting me there, I currently have 2 slots left, as I’ve booked one already. These will be handled first-come, first serve. My fees aren’t very negotiable.

I sent in a comment that I know many speakers – especially female ones – who would gladly take his speaking engagement cast-offs (including me).

Chris has been speaking publicly since 2006 and gets primo engagements, and not just the tech industry events but business and corporate as well. Many female speakers with comparable or even longer speaking resumes still struggle to get booked. I’ve been speaking professionally – and represented by agencies such as Greater Talent Network and more recently The Speakers Group (although I just noticed I’m still not listed on their site. Hmmm…)- since 1995.

In the 90s, I was blessed to be invited to speak globally including for an NGO gathering at De Haag; at an educational technology conference in Stockholm; at a women’s leadership conference in Wellington; and a women’s business summit in Buenos Aires. That was on top of corporate appearances such as symposiums at Arthur Anderson (now called Accenture), internal events at Kraft, and an array of national conferences for organizations such as the Association of Small Business Development Centers and the University Continuing Education Association.

I continue to work diligently to build my professional profile, publish widely (including my 8th book coming out Spring 2011 about crowdsourcing), social network with the best of them, and try to translate that into more paid speaking engagements. But the engagements that are well-suited to my background – and especially those that pay – are predominantly covered by male speakers.

This is not an attack on male speakers – and certainly not on Chris Brogan who is a lovely human being and an engaging presenter. This is just to state a reality that many female speakers face: even after years presentation experience at the keynote level with high ratings and reviews, we still have to fight tooth and nail to get a gig, and most often are offered a fraction of our male counterparts. I’ve had speaking agents tell me flat out that there are very few women on the professional speaking circuit today who can “break $10,000,” but getting $10,000 or more for even a novice male speaker is an easier sell than a seasoned female one. I kid you not.

In the spirit of full disclaimer, I haven’t yet broken $10,000, but I’m close. However, speaking gigs at that level are rarely found in the social or new media industries so my main focus of opportunities are outside of technology. There are many verticals where an expertise like mine in Internet marketing that spans 20 years can bring valuable insights to anyone regardless of if they are selling widgets, booking travel, building green buildings, or manufacturing toilets. (Yes, I’d be honored to speak at the Japan Toilet Association‘s annual conference or the World Toilet Summit in Philadelphia.)

So I’m willing to put myself out there and say to Chris Brogan “I will take your speaking cast-offs,” and if I am not qualified or available, I will gladly share the opportunities with other dynamic, experienced speakers. And yes, I’ll probably refer a lot of awesome female speakers I know who are in the same boat as me. Because we have to stick together. And if I have something to share, I will share the wealth. That’s just the way I roll.

What have been your experiences getting booked as a speaker or finding and booking speakers?

What Can Chain of Daisies Project Do?

As I continue to brainstorm the form Chain of Daisies Project can take, I started doodling diagrams to illustrate the vision. The main idea is to serve both women who are seeking speaking opportunities at business, tech and venture conferences and providing the organizers of these conferences with a pipeline of qualified women speakers.

Here is what this might look like:

What would you add to this picture?

on Smashmag: Upcoming Web Design and Development Conferences in 2010

Smashing Magazine has compiled a list of web design and development-related conferences and events that will be taking place in the next six to eight months.

Great list!

Are you speaking at any of them? Are there ones you are interested in speaking at but not sure where to begin? Let us know, and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Resource: WikiCFP – A Wiki for Calls for Papers

WikiCFP is a Semantic Wiki for Calls For Papers in various science and technology fields. There are more than 10,000 CFPs posted and tracked by about 15,000 registered users. Up to date, about 100,000 researchers use WikiCFP each month.

Categories include:

communications 527
artificial intelligence 555
image processing 200
data mining 316

I’ve never heard of 99% of these conferences, however, the list is extensive and international.

Let us know if you are speaking at any of the conferences listed or are going to submit something to speak.

Deadline for Papers for CrowdConf Extended: Sept 6

There is a new conference on crowdsourcing that is taking place next month:

CrowdConf 2010: The 1st Annual Conference on the Future of Distributed Work
October 4th, 2010, San Francisco, California at the St. Regis Hotel.

I really wanted to speak at it. I had every intention of doing so, however, when I got to the “call for papers” section, I was paralyzed – and still am.

For some reason, I can’t make heads or tails of what I’m supposed to do to submit to present at the event. I don’t know if it is just that my brain won’t compute (and yes, I’ve had my coffee) or if this is simply a process for sourcing speakers that I’ve never encountered before.

For example, the information below is pretty much Greek to me:

Specs for papers:

Unpublished, 10 pages max., ACM format, include an abstract of < 250 words. May be selected for publication in the conference proceedings, and/or for “full” or “spotlight” presentations.

Specs for posters, presentations, or demonstrations:

Must be an abstract of < 500 words. May be previously published or presented. Are eligible only for “full” or “spotlight” presentations.

I look at this, and I immediately stumble at “AMC,” at “abstract,” at “posters.” I feel like I’ve entered a world with new words and language and expectation that my already enormous fear of submitting presentation descriptions and summaries to conferences is exacerbated. I panic that I don’t have the right credentials, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, that I can’t figure out the format.

I’ve struggled all my life with filling out forms but somehow push through that fear to submit to conferences to speak (mostly rejected). Suddenly, I’m faced with a new process. The world flips upside down in my head.

I was really excited about the information I wanted to share – an actual case study of a wine company crowdsourcing input from their “crowd” on their Facebook Page to influence the name, logo and labels of several new wines that hit the shelves this year. Crowdsourcing product development for a consumer product using a social network! That seemed interesting, to me at least.

But I got to this step for submission and froze:

Follow formatting guidelines used for WWW 2010. Those guidelines are available here.

WWW 2010? Formatting guidelines? The language on the instructions page only escalated my feelings of inadequacy:

Refereed papers and posters must be submitted as PDF documents. No other format will be accepted. It is the responsibility of all authors to produce PDF documents that can be read and printed on any platform. Please check to ensure that you can produce PDF documents well before the submission deadline. The inability to produce a PDF document will not result in an extension of the paper submission deadline.

Refereed papers? Posters? I was so confused by those words that the fact that I know how to produce a PDF was no solace to me. Even something as simple as this sentence made me cringe:

Refereed papers can be prepared using either LaTeX or Microsoft Word.

What was LaTeX? Certainly not a rubber-like substance. And Microsoft Word? What if I boycott Microsoft and only use NeoOffice? Would the Save as Microsoft Word doc function be acceptable?

I finally gave up when I got to this sentence:

These are modified versions of the ACM proceedings style files.

ACM proceedings. I tweeted about this and a friend informed me that it meant that this was an academic something or other kind of event.

That’s when I knew I couldn’t submit. I’m not an academic. I don’t even have a college degree. I’ve had a long, successful business career and never once felt that my lack of a college degree stood in my way…until now.

But don’t let my neurosis and funky brain keep you from submitting a paper or a poster or a presentation with the very specific formatting. I know you can do it. You are a stronger woman than I.

Can anyone out there please offer some tips and translation to other women who may want to submit something but don’t have the experience responding to these kinds of formal calls for paper?