Tomorrow I head out to Mississippi where I will be doing two presentations at the Mississippi State Reading Association Conference. This is the second time I've been at this conference. Since starting my business I have presented at several different Reading and Social Studies conferences in New York, Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas and Virginia. (I think more, but I can't remember them right now.)
Usually for conferences of this type one must make a proposal, have it accepted and then pay for their transportation, room and board. It's great when you can combine your workshop with a paid presnetation, but how? Well, here's one idea. Check with conference organizers and see if they have someone performing for their large breakfast, lunch and/or dinner gathering with attendees. If they don't, find out their theme, and develop the "perfect" program to meet their needs at one of these meals, and set the price (ensure you put in expenses). Then offer them one to two FREE workshop presentations during the conference. The conference will get excellent entertainment/education during one its meals as well as a quality workshop they can offer members. You will get your expenses paid, the exposure, a well-needed brush up on teaching others and upgrading what you do, as well as more intimate time with folks that can lead to other programming. Make sure you have a sign in sheet (or two) for folks that gets their name and e-mail address. Always, send a thank you e-mail to workshop participants, more information about the topic and let them know you will remain in contact with them about programming and about the topic you presented.
Another idea is to get your proposal for workshopping accepted first and then start cold calling all the surrounding area schools, churches and other organizations about being in the area. Try to get 5 programs during the time you are in the area, and you will certainly cover the cost of your expenses. Make sure in your workshop to share where you have been in the area during this visit. This helps participants see that you are available for further programming, and gives them immediate referrals.
Good luck for your next conferences, or your first! Peace and belief, Sheila