By Mia Lyndon (of auditionquest.co.uk)
From the moment you pledged that you wanted a career in performing arts, you’ve probably had the exact same mantra drilled into you: ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’.
I hate to say it, but this is simply true. Trying to forge a career that balances purely on physical ability is great, but it won’t get you to where you ultimately want to be. The ability to shout about your talents and get them seen by the right people is a skill in itself- but only when done correctly.
In today’s world (and especially recently) all things dance are beginning to move online, with networking as no exception. Luckily, the online resources we have today make this often daunting task far, far easier (great news for socially anxious people).
Whether you are a new player to this tricky game of networking, or have already completed your fair share of ‘Dear Sir/Madam, I am writing to you because..’ emails, brushing up on your networking abilities can only lead to vast, successful benefits.
1. GET EMAILING
Reach out to people or companies that you really respect, via email or social media. Introduce yourself briefly and explain why you are reaching out. Perhaps ask a question or make a kind comment to get conversation flowing. Never be afraid to politely ask for help or advice and make yourself sound willing and eager for upcoming opportunities.
Perhaps someone you look up to has recently created some work that you really admire, which you would like to be a part of? By sending them a kind (and friendly) email expressing your admiration can often do the trick. Perhaps you could write a review of a performance or a recent article they have written too? People love to see that you are eager and engaged.
2.MAKE YOURSELF ACCESSIBLE
Create yourself an online portfolio or blog and add your contact details. The online portfolios that get the most attention are the ones that are clear, clean and regularly updated. Try to continuously add snippets of your recent performances, achievements, photos and videos.
Ensure that, on every page, you include your professional-looking email address (sorry, but firstname.lastname@example.org doesn’t quite cut it anymore…) and embed your social media links if possible.
Professionals regularly check-out portfolios like this, but won’t have the time to trawl through a million images of your five cats, so make sure that your website is neat and relevant.
It’s always a great idea to promote your website portfolio on your social media channels too, to gain more exposure and increase your visitor numbers.
3. BE NICE
The best way to increase your contacts and get networking is to be polite, kind and friendly.
Always speak with enthusiasm- people are more likely to want to help someone that actually wants to helped. If you get the chance to speak to somebody who has the potential of giving you advice or opportunities, show them how engaged you are and they will want to help you.
If somebody offers you help, thank them- profusely.
4. ASK AWAY
Never be afraid to ask a question. As long as it is reasonable, polite and insightful, ask away. This shows that you engaged and that you are creative- plus, usually, people love answering questions about themselves or their work.
Asking questions are a really great way of getting conversation started, plus it can allow you to pick up a whole load of tips and advice. The more topics you cover and the more you ask about, the more likely a person is to hook you up with another great contact too. Asking questions are a fantastic way of increasing your knowledge and contact address book.
Just make sure you’re not asking someone about their ‘favourite cereal’ or ‘least favourite bird species’.