InnovationWomen roundlogowithborder1. What is Innovation Women? Innovation Women is a new type of speaker bureau. We help connect technical, entrepreneurial and innovative women with speaking opportunities in their communities through an online database. Event managers can produce gender-balanced panels and events with great speakers.

2. What is Innovation Women’s mission? Our mission is to help women get more visibility for themselves, their careers and their companies through speaking engagements. We all understand that visibility brings with it opportunity. All too often we find ourselves listening to the same stories, the same voices, the same speakers. It is time for new, diverse voices to be heard. And, as those voices are heard, there is a lot of opportunity that comes along with it.

3. How is Innovation Women different from a traditional speaker bureau? Traditional speaker bureaus only manage speakers who collect speaker fees and ignore the speakers who speak for the visibility. We offer opportunity for all kinds of speakers. We also offer more than just speaking engagements – it’s not unusual for our members to be invited to judge pitch contests or speak to the media, etc. We also share profiles in our weekly newsletter, on our blog and promote your speaking engagements on social media. We working on other visibility opportunities too.

4. How is Innovation Women different from a Google Docs list? There are some great lists out there of women who should be speaking more often but they get quickly out of date.  Also, the lists approach requires event managers to find contact information and track down the speakers.  They also require the event managers to remember the list is there — we market Innovation Women to the event managers. Our weekly newsletters help remind event managers about issues of gender-equity, diversity and inclusion. We’re focused on creating a sustainable business for the long term.

4. How does Innovation Women work? Women looking for more visibility purchase a profile on the Innovation Women website. Event managers are approved for a free account and can sign in to seek speakers for their events and conferences. The event managers search for the right speaker for their event and invite speakers through the website. In addition, speakers get a weekly email with more than 100 speaking opportunities a week that they can apply for.

5. How much does it cost to be a member of Innovation Women? A basic annual speaker profile on Innovation Women is $100. If your company has a membership with some organizations, like MassTLC, you may receive your first year’s profile for free, courtesy of the organization. (You will still need to put in a credit card to activate the account but it will not be charged.)

6. Why do you charge the speakers and not the event manager? We know that people and companies seeking visibility currently pay PR and marketing firms thousands to identify opportunities and speaking engagements. Meanwhile, a lot of high value events (in terms of audience size and target audiences) like Meetups, don’t have budgets for speakers or speaker bureaus. These event managers may have never worked with a traditional bureau but still have great audiences for our speakers.

7. Why would someone chose a profile on Innovation Women over just adding “speaker” to their LinkedIn profile? LinkedIn is a great platform for chronicling your career and we encourage our members to link their IW profiles to all their social media. IW is singularly focused on bringing our members speaking engagements and the opportunities that visibility drives. Having a database with a variety of great women speakers is what attracts panel managers to our site.

8. I see a lot of profiles in Boston, is this a national effort? Yes, we are based in Boston and started here but we are rapidly gaining evangelists, ambassadors and partner organizations all over the country. (We also have speakers and event managers from outside the US – the UK, Singapore, Columbia and more.) Our speakers are getting invitations from all over but we recognize that the majority of invitations will be local to local. We are growing at a rapid pace. We’ll have a more significant presence in other major cities across the country very soon.

9. There’s a lot of talk about the small number of women at technical conferences. It sounds like this website is focused on that problem. Can women from other professions join? Of course. We find that event managers, even ones running technical conferences, are looking for speakers in a number of areas. We’ve received requests for women to speak about working in a startup, cloud computing, IoT, building smart teams inside startups, finance and accounting, startups and family, social media, marketing, blogging and more. We’ve even had requests that are looking for younger speakers.  One example is a panel of millennials to talk about how they got their first jobs. The event managers are looking for women at all stages of their career and across all industries and functions.

10. How do you avoid your speakers getting spammed or recruited? We approve all the event manager accounts. Please report any issues to us through the contact form.

11. Can I purchase a profile for someone else? Yes! Just contact us and we’ll help you. We also provide group and volume discounts.

12. How are you promoting this service to event managers? A combination of traditional and social media marketing is the basic foundation of our promotional plan. In addition, we are working with a number of membership organizations that also plan and organize events. They have members who might be great speakers but their own databases aren’t organized the right way to easily find the speakers. And we have our Ambassadors who are active in their communities, helping to spread the word. (Contact us if you are interested in enrolling in our Ambassador plan.)

13. How many speaking engagements can I expect if I sign up for your site? Like almost everything — it depends.  It depends on how complete your profile is, what your area of expertise is, how good a job you do tagging your profile to match the words event managers are using. Are you charging? (Some organizations just aren’t set up to pay speaker fees.) Did you connect all your social media accounts?  Did you share a video that shows you speaking? We have heard from some speakers that they received multiple offers in just a few weeks while others have yet to receive their first invitation.

14. How does an event manager get the best speakers? The short answer is plan and book ahead.  Watch the speaker videos.  Check out the example topics to see what the speakers have previously spoken on.  Search on topics and don’t immediately use location to rule out speakers. Check out our Event Manager Best Practices blog post for other ideas.

15. Are there rules I should be aware of?  Women sign up for Innovation Women in order to increase their visibility through speaking engagements. Invites to judge start up pitch contests, be quoted in the press and other “visibility opportunities” are OK – solicitations, sales pitches and invites for coffee are not. This is not what IW was designed for.

We take reports of abuse of privileges seriously. Any issues between members should be reported to our team.

Access to the site is a privilege, not a right. The Innovation Women team reserves the right to revoke the access of any user who does not abide by these guidelines.