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What should I pay my guest speakers and collaborators?

Is this something you’ve been wondering about? ….

It was a question that bugged me for months once I started collaborating with others, and that was, how we can respectfully negotiate deals with other professionals that respect and honour the time, expertise and generosity that we both put towards a joint seminar or workshop.

It seems there are different standards when I first started collaborating with others, I was a bit confused as to what the norm was because I was being offered completely different deals that ranged from nothing, to hundreds of dollars in payment.

I was stumped. I knew what the norm was in the corporate world, as that’s something I have a lot of experience with – but this online world seemed to be a completely different ball game and I had no idea what to expect from or offer my collaborators – and the last thing I wanted to be known as was someone who was stingy, rude or blatantly ripping people off for their time and expertise!

So here’s the question:

How do you honour the commitment
that a guest speaker makes to your community, course or tribe?

The commitment is to professionally prepare and present for approximately one hour, valuable information, that the audience can learn something from; meaning, they can leave with an actionable takeaway.

The speaker has a skill set, or products and services that directly relate to what your clients need (although we don’t deliver the same products or services – i.e. what they have is complimentary to what I have).

Do you:

1) Pay by the hour (and expect no pitch at the end).

2) Offer no payment (and allow a 2-3 minute pitch at the end).

3) No payment, no pitch. Their presence on your website/the fact that they are collaborating with you, and therefore the exposure they will get from that, is the ‘payment’.

When I originally wrote this article, I put it out there and asked a number of business forums, networking groups and other professionals I know, like and trust. Their responses are below.

Before you read through them though, what’s your stance on the subject? How do YOU compensate your collaborators for their time, energy and expertise?

So here’s what the professionals said…

I received over 100 pieces of feedback from a number of different forums; LinkedIn, Facebook, Yammer, I’ve had emails come in and people I don’t know call me for a chat on the phone about it.

Before I start, can I just reiterate that this article is about awareness raising: being open about what’s fair, and what isn’t fair, so that those newer to the industry aren’t railroaded into ‘deals’ that don’t honour their time, expertise and experience.

It’s also intended to give strength to those that don’t have a clear idea on what they’re entitled to; so they have the power to ask for what they’re worth, to value themselves and the contributions they can make to creating real change in other people’s lives. If you’ve spent years learning your skills, honing your craft, becoming a professional in your field, then your time and energy is valuable and no one has the right to have you believe otherwise.

So all the stories and discussions were a real eye-opener, comments coming from the private and public sectors, small business people and those working in large corporations, but the consensus seemed to be pretty much the same across the board.

I’ve heard and read it all – the good, the bad and the very very ugly, but when you boil it all down, here’s what people are saying (and I whole-heartedly agree!).

It sort of depends on the situation….

At the end of the day, it needs to be ‘win-win’ for both parties, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach; there is no ‘normal’.

It was made fairly clear in most discussions that the idea of getting ‘exposure’ can be a ‘win’ for some, depending on the size of the audience and how ‘public’ that exposure is; many suggested that ‘public exposure’ means giving the speaker exposure on your website, through emails that publicise the event or the ability to put a flyer at the event.

Interestingly enough, there’s been quite a few articles and blog posts shared recently that back these sentiments up precisely and this pearler was brought to my attention just as I was compiling all the feedback.

Check out this popular blog post called ‘Dear Brands, Exposure is NOT real payment’. It’s a brilliant article from the perspective of a writer who is sick to death of being asked to work for free.

Exposure, or being able to present to a group of would be clients, is fantastic for reputation building, to boost your credibility and for giving you a chance to showcase your skills.

However, the consensus was, that if the host is charging guests (i.e., they’re in a paid program, or they have paid to attend the event), that there should be some sort of ‘payment’ for the speaker; payment may mean a financial reward, or at least the ability for them to showcase their products and services briefly at the end of the session, without it being a tacky, hard-sell experience. No one wants to be bombarded with a sales pitch when they’ve just paid to be at an event or in a program!

Leona D’Vaz, a freelance Journalist and Marketing Consultant, offered this comment which I think summarises the feedback perfectly:

I think an 'exchange of value' definitely needs to take place. Now that I am out of a corporate environment, quite a number of my circle are freelancers, start-ups, students etc ... so we've deemed this phrase in place of formal contracts.
It's a way to respectfully honour the person's time, intel and knowledge. However the exchange takes place is up to both parties – whether that is remuneration, a swap of services, paid in products or perhaps they do it pro bono for exposure – each side needs to consent.
It’s an interesting conversation, as I interviewed Julie McKay from UN Women recently and we had this exact discussion. Women need to value their work! 

My sentiments exactly Leona!

There certainly isn’t a one size fits all approach to this, but there does need to be a ‘win-win’ for both parties involved. Just make sure that ‘win-win’ is in alignment with what your experience, expertise and qualifications indicate you’re worth – and don’t be rail-roaded into an agreement that doesn’t sit right with your ethics or the way you want to do business!

Know your legal contracts, joint venture agreements or terms and conditions need a bit of work?

We’ve prepared a Legal Webinar Series that covers all the questions above. Two interviews, and summary notes that cover everything we discuss during the interviews, which were specifically created to address the problems that my clients have had. Together, we decided we could save more hard working small business owners from falling into the same traps we have!

The lesson is available here.

It’s located in the BASICS Level of the Library, in the Small Business Wisdom course:

Lesson 4: Legal Webinar Series

Click on the above link to be taken directly to the Lesson. If you’re already  a member of the Small Business Wisdom course, make sure you’re logged in! If you’re not, you’ll be redirected to the page where you can become a member.

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3 thoughts on “What should I pay my guest speakers and collaborators?”

  1. Hi Maria

    I think that the benefits of a collaboration are mutual exposure and endorsements. After all, in presenting someone on your site, you are endorsing them and/or their business. The endorsement should really be enough I reckon.

    Cheers and keep up the good work 🙂

    • Thanks Pam and Pia!
      Different perspectives, both fair and reasonable! The comments that have come out of this have been really interesting – I’ll be compiling them all in a few days once the dust has settled! 🙂

  2. Just think of the hours you have spent studying, learning and setting up your business……. your worth is immeasurable.
    Charge a fair price per hour … people expect to pay for good information and good pathways/roads leading to great possibilities 🙂
    Cheers
    Pia

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