The How To Get A Job Series: Networking
What is every emerging artist working on? Getting a job… or if you are currently a professional you are making sure you keep your job. The work never ends; it just evolves and morphs into something different as we age.
I want to start a continuous series for my dance audience on how to get a job/ keep one, as I’m on my journey to getting my first professional job.
The first part of this series is on building relationships…
I’m going to guide this conversation to focus on the dance world, but honestly, this relates to all niches.
The importance of networking transcends to every field you can think of because quite honestly no one gets to the top by themselves, NO ONE.
Who you know gets you in the door and your work gets you the job and allows you to keep it.
So, Why is it so important to make connections, network, and build relationships?
1. It’s about who you know
As a new professional dancer, you are a little fish in a huge pond. I always knew this, but boy did I have a wake-up call when I started to attend company auditions. You attend an audition with 200+ more talented dancers and you really have to give it your all to make sure the people at the front of the room notice who you are. You might be super talented, but with 200+ other bodies it’s easy to get lost and panel might not recognize you right away.
It’s beyond frustrating. You think you are giving it your all, but something is missing. Sometimes you get cut because you’re not the right fit or you have more to work on or you just didn’t know the right people.
Building relationships with professionals in the field are essential because they hold power: the power of being friends with the people in the front of the room. If someone puts in a good word for you, it can go a long way because an artistic director trusts when a friend of theirs recommends someone for the job.
At that point it’s more than what you are showing in the room; they can speak on your work ethic, how you work every day; your punctuality; your personality, whether or not you are difficult to work with, and how you work with other people.
Knowing all these things about you gives you a head start over the other dancers in the audition. The panel has to gather all of that based on the other dancer’s audition.
And guess what?
Sometimes someone will recommend you and you don’t even have to audition!
It can be difficult to start out without much professional experience under your belt, but it truly matters if someone can genuinely recommend you as a great fit.
But remember, once someone recommends you, it’s your work that keeps you in the room.
That person truly believes in your work, and you don’t want their reputation/ referrals to tarnish because you didn’t hold up your part of the bargain.
Later on, I’ll get into why you can’t simply expect to take take take from this person.
Another reason networking and building relationships are vital is because you can gain a few mentors from the people you meet.
I cannot advocate enough for mentorship! As much as you want to do bad all by yourself, you can’t. Well, you can… you’ll just make tons of mistakes along the way.
Almost every professional dancer has a teacher or another professional dancer that they look up to for guidance and wisdom.
Align yourself with older, more mature dancers that can help you because they have been where you are now. They know the ropes and how the dance world works.
If you just graduated from a BFA program, and you think you know it all, ha think again. We just spent the last four years in a pretty little bubble, and as vicious as that bubble seemed sometimes, it was not the real world.
Your friends mean a lot in your progression as well, but they can help you but so much because you guys are all in the same space.
Go to coffee with the dancers you look up to and respectfully pick their brains about their journey and struggles. Ask them what worked for them or what they would have done differently when getting a job or working in a company.
They can also enlighten you as to what is out there. They’ll let you know about companies you didn’t know about, that you can look into and audition for.
Which brings me to…
Your mentor/ teacher can help you get opportunities. They might have something that they are working on or collaborating with someone else on that they ask you to be a part of.
Now, you have one more thing to put on your resume and you have the chance to build a relationship with the individual your mentor collaborated with. The dance world is so small, even though the more I go to auditions the more I question that, but anyway people talk!
The more professionals you begin to align yourself with, the more your name might be thrown around in the discussion. Hopefully, in a good way. This is how one opportunity turns into two or three or four!
That’s all to say, networking and building connections is vital. It can help you become a wiser and essentially a booked dancer.
However, you can’t just selfishly build a relationship with someone so they can get you ahead in life.
You can’t begin a relationship asking someone to do something for you. If they don’t know who you are, they might just think you’re using them or you’re selfish.
You need to build a relationship first, and eventually, the person will willingly want to help you.
Let me know if you would like me to go into how to build relationships and network in another post! I can also include a short interview with a professional and what tips they have one building relationships.
Nonetheless, I hope the budding or professional dancer gets from this post that connecting with other professionals can be key in your career.
It opens doors and creates opportunities. And I say all of this because I am blessed to have professionals as mentors and teachers, but they can only do a small portion of the work. Their recommendations are only as good as what I bring in the studio.
So, make your work even better than the recommendation! That’s how you stay booked.
Until next time; that’s all I got for now. 😉