I’ve been contemplating writing a Stage Savvy article on how a performing artist can best market themselves in the hopes of continuing getting work. It was primarily going to cover online branding, because in this day and age getting noticed means getting noticed on Web 2.0 items such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc.
Then I read this entry from the great journalism blog 10,000 Words which reminded me that who you are off-line is just as important. He’s absolutely right on each and every single point, and they can be just as easily applied to actors and techies as writers.
- Be nice. Luckie (the blog’s author) writes, “Being arrogant, antisocial, cliquish, or rude will turn many people off and damage your personal brand.” I can’t tell you how often I’ve made a note to myself to not work with a particular actor or director again because they came across as a diva or only started paying attention to me once they realized I volunteer with KC Stage Magazine.
Now, I realize that everyone has bad days (myself included), and I also realize that there are people out there that consider me arrogant or antisocial based off a certain situation, so I try to give people multiple chances to show their true colors. But you only get so many chances to, in the words of Wil Wheaton, not be a dick.
- Show don’t tell. I’m going to use this tool to branch off to ‘when you’re there, be there’. Theatre takes a lot of time to get right. And it seems like there’s less and less time given by people as they get more and more involved with other projects.
I understand that. I try to have time to do my day job, KC Stage, still have a personal life, and do an occasional show – and there has been two times this year where I’ve had to drop out (or cancel) due to my personal life going overboard. But at the same time, I understand the level of the commitment – and in both of those cases, I dropped out fairly early in the process – as soon as I knew I wasn’t going to be able to be any help.
Make sure you show your commitment: when you sign up to be involved in a show, be involved with that show. When you’re there, pay attention to what’s going on. When you’re not there, do research as to the show (and if you’re an actor, your character). I’m more likely to remember you (and want to use you again) if you go above and beyond in your role, even if it’s a small one (actually, especially if it’s a small one).
- Say Yes!/Do a favor for someone: There’s a lot of projects going on out there, and a lot of events. You can help your image by being out in the performing arts world, whether it’s by attending other shows (and there are ways to get cheap or free seats at almost every venue through volunteering – all you have to do is ask), or taking on a show you might not normally do because it involves someone you know (or on the opposite end, because it’s someone you haven’t worked with before).
Richard Buswell has a rule that determines whether he does a show that he calls the three Exs – Experience, Exposure, Expenses. Does it give an experience he hasn’t had/needs? Does it provide exposure? Does it cover any expenses? Yes to one (or multiple) of these means he’s more likely to do a show.
There’s also lots of networking opportunities that don’t get posted to KC Stage for one reason or another: after work meetings, First Friday events, etc. If you want to make a name for yourself, you need to be out there and let people know who you are and what you look like.
- Ditch the “rules” and follow your passion. This is your standard ‘know when to break the rules’ rule: I don’t go out to too many networking events myself, and don’t see too many shows. But I’m also happy with where I am currently in my performing arts career. I want to focus on KC Stage and my personal life for now.
In this day and age where getting noticed means getting noticed on Web 2.0 items such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc., it’s helpful to remember that simple courtesy and commitment is that much harder to see and that much easier to impress people with.