Here's an understatement: the uncertainty of our current economy is making people tense. As an entrepreneur, you might be a little more anxious than those who are getting a regular paycheck. You're independent, self-reliant and self-motivated, but the feeling of not having control in times like these can lead to worry and stress about keeping your business strong and profitable.

Although some of your clients and prospects might be cutting back on expenses, others are spending as usual. How do you promote yourself affordably to those who aren't panicking about the economy? If you're one of those people who is nervous because you're not sure how to market yourself without spending a fortune, and you're looking for a new and affordable way to approach current clients and new prospects, I'd like you to think about adding public speaking to your marketing efforts.

You probably already have a website, and you might have a blog or a newsletter. You submit press releases when you have news. You might donate products or services to charity, use free directories, have a page on Facebook, or offer free consultations. There are myriad free and low-cost ways to promote your business, and offering talks on your area of expertise to local organizations is just one more avenue to get the word out about your product or service.

And public speaking includes not just giving speeches and presentations, but also attending mixers and networking events where you can meet local prospective clients and partners face to face.

Here's why you should add speaking and in-person networking to your marketing mix.

1. Expand your visibility as an expert

You're an expert in your field, right? To promote this expertise, you write articles and blog posts, collect testimonials for your website from satisfied customers, comment on other blogs and participate on forums in your industry. Sharing your expertise as a speaker adds to your recognition as an expert outside of your field, in the community at large.

When you're recognized as an expert, you're more than just a speaker: you'll be interviewed and quoted by journalists, you'll be asked to contribute to articles and books, you'll be invited to speak, teach and train and ultimately, you'll get more clients!

2. Improve your speaking and communication skills

Do you do any of these things in your business?

* Make proposals to buyers and prospects
* Negotiate with vendors
* Speak to the media
* Deal with unhappy customers
* Facilitate or participate in meetings
* Attend networking events
* Orient or train new employees
* Tell people about your product or service

Improving your speaking and communication skills, and building confidence in a variety of situations, will help you in all these areas and more -- including your personal life. Wouldn't it be great to be asked to say a few words at a wedding or a retirement dinner and not feel like crumbling in a heap of embarrassment?

3. Build business and personal relationships

Networking is a great way to meet people who will become your partners, associates, clients and friends. How you present yourself at these events (and any time you talk about your business) is how people will remember you and your business. Make an effort to get to know people and find out how you can be a resource to them in ways that might or might not include your business.

After an event, stay in touch with the people you've met. Send an e-mail or make a call to say you enjoyed meeting them. When you come across information you think they'd be interested in, send it along. Cultivate those relationships; you never know how or when they might bear fruit.

Instead of feeling powerless by focusing on factors you can't control, focus instead on something you can control: making public speaking one of your strengths, and strengthening your business in the process.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Braithwaite works with individuals to uncover their challenges and build their strengths in presenting themselves confidently as speakers. For free monthly public speaking tips, sign up for the "Presentation Pointers" newsletter. Get my e-book, "101 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking," here.