By Vilis Ozols, MBA, CSP

This article was published in the May 1997 Issue of SPEAK UP! the newsletter of the Colorado Speakers Association (CSA).

Have you received a “return on investment” (ROI) on your CSA/NSA membership dues and meeting fees? Consider these ways to better leverage your investment.

Display the logo: The NSA logo says that, very simply, you are a player in the industry. Visibly aligning yourself with this organization through use of the logo associates you with speaking giants – Mark Sanborn, CSP CPAE, W. Mitchell, CSP CPAE, Nido Qubein, CSP CPAE, and, of course, _______________ (you fill in your name here!). You see, in CSA/NSA you do associate your name with these icons of the industry.

Magnify The Benefits Of CSA To Your Clients: On my home page, I have worked to create the understanding that NSA/CSA equals credibility. It essentially says: NSA & CSA membership means that you are getting a proven professional – look for the logo whenever you hire a speaker. Fred Holden, our CSA Public Relations guru, has often said including CSA and NSA credentials in press releases enhances your credibility and the visibility of our organization.

Learn From The Masters: One of the single greatest benefits of the CSA/NSA forum is the ability to learn from the best. Note that this does not mean copy from the best. I am sometimes concerned that a speaker’s definition of “original material” is when they forgot who they borrowed it from. One of my favorite questions to the masters: What’s the single best thing you did to escalate yourself to the next level?

CSA is a great forum to benchmark your professional development relative to your peers – identify where you are and where you are going.

It’s A Lonely Business. Speakers are among the most social people of the world, yet the structure of our business creates a paradox of a relatively lonely lifestyle. CSA is a way of reflecting with folks who are going through the same routine as you. There are definitely CSA’ers who understand aspects of my lifestyle better than my wife does – that’s a scary thought – but also a rejuvenating one when it’s needed!

Leverage Your Visibility Among Your Peers: I had an enlightening conversation with a speaker’s bureau at the most recent N.S.A. Western Workshop.

My question to the bureau: Assume someone is a very talented speaker – how do they break through the clutter so they can provide a benefit to that bureau and their clients? Their answer: Have an established speaker we work with make a personal recommendation.

My question to you: Do you have a professional presence among your peers – and can you figure out a better forum than CSA to get it?

CSA, Your Professional Proving Ground: When I asked Naomi Rhode, CSP, CPAE, for the single best thing she did to escalate her career to the next level, she responded it was speaking in front of NSA. I had the opportunity to do a short showcase presentation this January for CSA. It was my first presentation to this group, and even as a five year veteran making a great living by speaking, I admit that I felt a little like a surgeon operating on a malpractice attorney. Later, speaking for NSA in Los Angeles at the Western Workshop, I admit preparing more than I have for 99% of any of my previous presentations. The most rewarding aspect was standing before speaking peers and gaining professional acceptance.

Later, W. Mitchell, talking about his first CSA showcase, asked me a question that clarified one of the great benefits of being a member of CSA and NSA: “Doesn’t it feel good knowing that you’re a player in this game?” Believe me it does – almost as good as it felt having a “real” player, like Mitchell, suggest you are one.

Use these points to leverage your CSA investment and you will can be assured of a more than profitable ROI for years to come.