One common misconception of winning a pageant is the idea that when you win a pageant, you’ll be swept away into some fairytale land where you get a business manager, PR specialist and full glam team. The reason people believe this is because this is what happens in some pageants – namely Miss USA or Miss America. But, for most pageant winners, this is not the case. In fact, when you win your pageant you are actually expected to be the one to book your own appearances. Sometimes, you are contractually obligated to do 2 or more per month, so this is a necessary skill long before you win the title.
In this episode I’m going to share with you the 7 steps to book appearances like a true pageant professional with or without a crown.
Of course, before you can even begin to book appearances you have to know your brand and have a solid understanding of your platform and legacy project so you know where your skills would be best align. If you hadn’t got this far in your training, then I invite you to revisit episode number 23 for your Legacy Project and episode number 66 for Platform training.
For the purposes of today’s training I’m going to dive straight into booking your appearances as if you’ve already got your platform and legacy project well on its way.
1. Research related partners
The first step of the process is to research related partners like organizations, groups or businesses that align with the same mission that you are supporting. I suggest starting with the yellow pages and a good ol’ Google search. You might even find local chapters of national organizations like the Rotary Club, the Girl Scouts, schools or libraries in your area that could support or benefit from your platform and legacy project. Make a list of the possible partners that you find in a Google or Excel spreadsheet. Include the name of the organization, the name of the person that you would contact, their actual contact information, and any notes that you take when you actually do reach out to them. This will help you keep everything organized so you can keep track of the progress that you’re making.
Ok, now that you’ve got your list of who you will contact, you have to create a valuable offer. That’s step 2.
2. Offer something valuable
When you actually do reach out to these contacts that you’ve researched, you have to offer them something of value. You want to consider what is important to them. Is there a certain initiative that they are promoting in this moment or maybe there is a common market that they are trying to reach and you have direct access?
For example, when I was working closely with the American Heart Association I was in contact with several public schools because I was a certified teacher with an approved background check. My mom and dad also worked in the public school system, so we had contacts in many districts. That was valuable to the American Heart Association and therefore allowed me to work with them for many appearances in elementary schools and college campuses.
Think about what you can bring to the table. Sometimes, non-profit organizations seek volunteers that are available to host tables at health fairs, be present to give out sandwiches at fundraising walks, and give talks within a specific region on a topic of interest. Maybe you have a flexible schedule or experience in a certain sport. These are your strengths.
When you contact an organization share your strengths in a way that they can benefit from. You may say something like, ‘Hi my name is Alycia and I’m interested in volunteering for your organization. I’m a public speaker, a certified teacher and I love to work with children. Who would be the best person for me to talk to about volunteer positions with your organization?’
Notice how I started with what’s important to them rather than saying, ‘Hi my name is Alycia, I am Miss so-and-so and I want to get into the schools to talk to the children’. Anytime you need somebody to be on your side, approach the table from their side.
3. Get Contact Info and Follow Up
The next thing that you want to do is leave your contact information. Many organizations have an ongoing list of possible volunteers that they reach out to for various activities when needed. You want to be on that list!
It may also be wise for you to talk directly to whoever is the volunteer coordinator or whoever is responsible for booking the type volunteering that you want to provide.
For example if you want to give a speech at a Rotary Club meeting, you need to be aware of who books those speakers. You’ll get their specific contact information and that’s who you’ll follow up with until they tell you no, or you are invited to an appearance. When you’re invited respond immediately – that’s step #4!
4. Respond immediately as a partner in the process
My recommendation is to respond to somebody’s outreach or invitation within 24 hours. I used to be on a call list to speak to groups in Los Angeles on behalf of the American Heart Association. Los Angeles, as you can imagine has no shortage of speakers, so when I got an email request, I had to jump on it within a matter of hours to secure the position.
It’s important that you are on top of your communication – whether it is to ride in the parade, speak on behalf of an organization, attend a fundraiser, or write a guest blog. That level of professionalism goes a long way.
Gather some information to understand their needs and the specific details.
5. Confirm details 3-7 days before
Now that you know exactly what to expect and you have prepared for the event, you should confirm the details at least 3 days before the event and up to a full week before depending on the size of the event. Send a very brief email with the basics of the details that you have and what you are expecting to deliver in terms of time, attire, and presentation on the given day.
For example, if you are selling roses at a black tie Gala your details will include the fact that you will be wearing a formal gown, arriving at 4:30 p.m., and bringing a white basket for the roses. I have found that it’s better to include this level of detail in case they missed telling you something – this is their opportunity to fill in those blanks. Even if your details are as simple as arriving at 147 Oak Avenue at 11 a.m. with a Corvette, magnetic signs and printed formal introduction of you for the MC of the parade – still confirm the details as you understand it.
6. Be spectacular
My client Brianne who recently won her state pageant, came to my house for her VIP day and we developed this concept of being paid $20,000 to walk around on stage for 3 minutes each time. She created that vision for each phase of competition, showing up with her best self, putting aside any negative self talk and owning the stage for those 3 minutes. She obviously nailed it and won! The same strategy will work for your appearance. If you imagine yourself being paid $20,000 to just show up for whatever appearance you’re doing, I bet you’d be spectacular! That’s what you want to deliver – your very best self. Get plenty of rest, put yourself together so you look fantastic, show up early, bring an extra dress, your talent cd, or a spare microphone just in case. Be ready to save the show, step into whatever role they give you and be worth $20,000! Everyone you interact with will be asking ‘How did they book her? and I wonder how much it will cost to get her at my event?’ I promise your excellence will pay off.
7. Follow up 2 days afterward with a thank you note and photo.
And the final step in booking an appearance comes after the actual appearance. Within 48 hours after the event, you want to follow up with a thank-you note. I’m sure you know by now that gratitude is high on my values list. I love sharing my appreciation with the people around me and I have found that the more appreciation, I show the more generosity others give.
When you follow up with a handwritten thank-you note, you will find that opportunities are continually brought to you. Send a thank you note to your Corvette driver, one to the newscaster who interviewed you on camera, definitely one to the contact that help you set everything up – even the volunteer coordinator at the day of the event would appreciate your gratitude. I sometimes even send photographs of myself and the volunteer coordinator or other key players so that they remember who I am and of course have a keepsake of the event themselves. This is how you ensure that your reputation for your work is glowing and grow your network.
The longer your list of contacts the more opportunities you will be able to create for yourself (even before your pageant) and more powerful the impact you’ll make at your pageant.
And that my dear is how you win a pageant!
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