How to Book a TED Talk

By | October 27, 2013

I have to admit, I am proud to have presented my first TED Talk entitled the “The Value of Having an Entourage.” Hundreds of people do TED Talks. Most of us think that ‘TED’ comes along and picks you out among thousands and bestows the TED speaking honor on you because the world knows you have a brilliant idea that is worth spreading. But guess what? That’s NOT the way most TED Talks or other opportunities happen. They come about because someone in your entourage knows and trusts you and recommends you. So, here’s my story of how I got to do a TED Talk and how you can, too.

(Watch my talk here:

I was just doing my usual linking out – sitting down in-person over breakfast with one of the influential people in my entourage. It had been over a year since I had one-on-one time with this colleague. She lives in St. Louis but her business brings her to my home-base, New York City, regularly. We have known each other for years, but our busy schedules kept us from taking the time to sit down face-to-face to dig deeper into what was important to us… until one morning in August.

Over breakfast we asked each other what our visions were for the next year and truly listened to each other. Both of us wanted to boost our speaking businesses. We each live by the LINK OUT principle of giving to others to help them reach their goals so we agreed to make introductions for each other. Usually things don’t happen that quickly, but this time they did. A few weeks later, she sent me an email telling me that she had been contacted by the producer who oversees the St. Louis TEDx event. They had a trusted relationship and he asked her to recommend a ‘TED-worthy’ speaker. Guess who she recommended? You got it.

A few weeks earlier, I was in Chicago presenting a three-hour training workshop on business development at the MetLife Sales Forum. Never one to let an opportunity to link out elude me, while I was in Chicago, I had lunch with two members of my Chicago-based entourage. Of course, we shared our visions over lunch and discussed links we might have for each other. In addition, they told me NAWBO Chicago was looking for a keynote speaker, who speaks about how to grow your business for NAWBO Day held annually in Chicago. Of course, I thought of of my colleague immediately. She was perfect for the job and they agreed soon booked her.

Often people think they shouldn’t collaborate or link out with people who are in the same business or career, because they are competitors. However, in 90% of the cases, each of us has a unique twist. My colleague and I are both speakers and while sometimes we speak to the same type of audience,

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our messages and our experiences are unique. By collaborating and linking out on each other’s behalf we each can be much more successful than if we viewed each other as competitors and decided NOT to help each other. Multiple that by 10 or 20 people whom you could choose to view as a collaborator rather than a competitor and your business and your career will grow faster and be a lot more fun. Sure sometimes we may compete, but most of the time, we can find ways to work together, which will enable us all to reach our goals.

And here’s a recap of how to get a TED Talk and other valuable opportunities by linking out:

-Schedule face-to face in person relaxed meetings with influential people with whom you share a trusted relationship.

-Don’t exclude them because you consider them a competitor (this could work to both of your advantages).

-Share your vision (maybe it’s doing a TED Talk), and ask them to share their vision with you.

-Agree to help each other reach that vision.

-Make every effort to deliver on your offer. If you can’t directly deliver, offer to link out to someone you know who could support the other person.

-Repeat above often and practice daily with people you like and trust until it becomes natural to you. You’ll be surprised how your vision will become reality, though often from unexpected people and places.

…….Leslie Grossman, author, LINK OUT: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections(Wiley,2013)