Source guests for webinars

1. Look at your webinar goals and your brand promise to attendees to identify characteristics of the guest speaker you need.

If you have a marketing goal of widening your reach or building brand awareness, look for guests who: Are within your industry, or are at least in a complementary industry. For example, a tourism webinar might tap a guest who works in the airline industry. Don’t work for businesses or organizations that directly compete with your core clientele. Have their own engaged audience who will be interested in your webinar due to the guest’s involvement. If you have a brand goal of building trust and credibility, consider: Internal subject matter experts, such as a co-founder or a lead software developer, to help position your company as a trusted brand in your industry. Customers or prospects who can talk about their problems or opportunities, and how your brand has helped. Internal product experts who can share insights on best practices, hacks, and workarounds to make the most of your product or service.

2. If you’ve conducted webinars in the past, or if you’re sourcing a guest for a long-running, ongoing webinar, invite past and current attendees to give you suggestions about who they think would make a good guest.

Ask a live webinar audience to write their suggestions in the comments of your webinar platform. Popular platforms like GoToWebinar, Zoho Meeting, and Zoom all allow audience interaction that you can save and review after your webinar is complete. Post a poll on social media, and invite your audience to leave a comment about who they want to hear from. This is also a bonus way to drive social media engagement. Sending a survey to your past webinar attendees. Use a tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. This is also a great way to plug an upcoming webinar. Crowdsourcing suggestions is powerful because it: Creates an excuse to invite your audience to engage with your brand. Helps you keep a finger on the pulse of your industry, and spot trending speakers before they appear on your own radar. Makes your audience feel included in the process, which can drive attendance and social media sharing in the future.

3. Look for industry leaders and subject matter experts within your own organization.

C-suite executives and department heads can add considerable credibility and industry expertise to your webinar topics. You can also bring fresh insights from different parts of your business: A customer service representative can talk about surprising trends they’re seeing in the market.  Behind-the-scenes experts, such as one of your engineers, can add unusual insights into product features. A founder or co-founder can add a human interest element to your brand by talking about the inspiration or stories that motivated them to start the company or spearhead a new initiative.

4. Find an expert on professional networking and Q&A platforms, like LinkedIn's Find an Expert tool or Quora.

Experts who are already self-promoting themselves online are far more likely to agree to be a guest speaker. Search LinkedIn and Quora using keywords related to your webinar topic, for example marketing or iOS development. Note the names of individuals behind highly rated answers. Search for these individuals on social media, LinkedIn or Google to get their contact info.

5. Seek industry insiders and thought leaders using a journalism sourcing service like Help a Reporter (HARO), ProfNet, SourceBottle, or PitchRate.

Many industry experts monitor and respond to solicitations for experts on journalism sourcing websites. Submit a query to these platforms, identifying your brand, your webinar goal, and the type of expert you’re seeking.  Your query will be sent to thousands of industry experts. After seeing your query, those who are interested will email you directly.

6. Visit the National Speakers Bureau and search their online database using the topic of your webinar. Contact a specialist speakers bureau to find experts in specific fields.

For example, the All-American Speakers Bureau manages a list of political speakers, while the Fountain of Health National Speakers’ Bureau focuses on clinicians and academics in the health space. Search the web for [your keyword] + speakers bureau to find relevant lists targeting your webinar topic.

7. Review the speaker roster for upcoming or past industry-specific conferences or webinars.

If someone has spoken or is booked to speak at an upcoming conference or webinar, the odds of them being interested in appearing on your own webinar are high. Look up other webinars in your industry and note who has spoken at them. Pull up the conference handouts for industry events and see who has spoken at keynotes or breakout sessions. Search YouTube for TEDx and TED speakers who have addressed the topics you feature on your webinar. TEDx presenters in particular may be interested, since they tend to be more niche or localized speakers.

8. Make a spreadsheet with columns for Name, Email, Phone, and Notes. Add information for all your potential speakers, including any observations on their past speaking experience.

9. List the benefits the guest speakers will receive if they choose to appear on your webinar.

For example, you could offer: Financial compensation. Free access to your brand’s products or services. Cross-promotional opportunities where you or your team contribute to the guest speaker’s own content ecosystem. Direct promotional opportunities where the guest speakers can plug their own brand or product.

10. Send an  invite to your prospective guests to join your webinar.