It’s a tricky business this burlesque malarkey. Whilst your talents may get you so far, any professional performer will tell you that networking is key. This isn’t simply spouting on Facebook or the other social media networking sites. It’s about clever negotiations, working the room if you will. But not simply at shows. Networking goes beyond the burlesque stage and you can find yourself picking up gigs in the most unlikely of places.
It goes without saying that you should always carry your business cards with you. Add to that your diary, a notebook and a pen and you are ready. I have been in the café in Selfridges when a former contact came over and asked if I was free the following week to perform. Having both my diary to hand meant I could confirm I was available and also put it in the diary. Admittedly negotiating the terms in the middle of my Newhaven mackerel brunch wasn’t the best but hey it was a job.
When at a party where do you hang? Do you hit the dance floor, the buffet table or just the drinks? Think instead of grabbing one drink and mingling. Open conversations with new people. It’s hard I know, but it not only shows you are comfortable in different environments but also that you are assertive enough to hold conversation. No one wants to book a dumbass who they can’t converse with. I have met some fabulous people at parties and not all have been burlesque related.
Anyone on Facebook will not doubt be bored to tears with the multiply event invites they get. I know I am. Just this morning I declined twelve. I try to pick and choose which events I attend carefully. My time is limited, so I would rather give my full attention at one party a week than three parties at fifty percent focus. Remember that everyone remembers all that happens so be careful how you behave. Being drunk and launching at someone won’t bode well for you; neither would being ‘Miss Meek and Mild’ in the corner. Middle ground is sadly where you need to be.
It’s not just parties you can network at. I have met people in art galleries, in the queue at the supermarket and, believe it or not, in a traffic jam. Being friendly and actually interested in what people have to say is key. Also consider attending events you wouldn’t usually. Thanks to my appearance at an art gallery in Angel I was introduced to some comic book people which has now lead to me attending comic conventions and writing for one of the leading comic websites. This has since lead on to me working on a film next month.
Bad networking can also break you. Don’t only chat to those who will get you ‘somewhere’; people will notice. Be polite and converse, but remember that just because someone is talking to you it doesn’t mean you are ‘in there’ for a gig. Plus how dull would you be if all you ever talked about was burlesque?
Be aware of how you dress. Dress to stand out for all the right reasons. No one wants to see someone’s nipples poking out of a too tight top just because they are a ‘burlesquer’. I have seen this first hand and it wasn’t pretty. Being dressed in a way that reflects you is important so just pick carefully. Standing out is a good thing – the key is to dress to impress, not distress.
Networking is like a game of dominoes. Once you make the right move all the pieces fall down and lead you somewhere else…