When I used to hear the word “networking,” three words came to mine: fake, forced, and icky. I always had the idea that networking was a very put-on conversation with someone “important,” with an end goal of getting a job or an audition form that person. Ew.
But true networking is the complete opposite of those things.
Networking is just another name for relationship-building, and it’s something that should feel natural for everyone involved. As humans, we crave connection and community. You’ve done it your whole life, which means that you have every tool you need to be a good networker!
The first part of networking is showing up. It’s as simple as that. If there is a show you’d like to be a part of, find out who is involved and then show up to their workshops, classes, and auditions. If there’s a company you have your sights set on, find out if they have company class you can take. The more you show up, the more people will start to recognize you, and the more they will want to get to know you.
Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself after class and make a connection. Even a short conversation can make a great impression. It doesn’t need to be anything too involved - you can thank them for class and ask when they are teaching again. A brief conversation shows that you are interested without feeling forced.
Remember that networking takes time. Think about your relationships with teachers who trust you, and with friends who would vouch for you. Did those relationships happen overnight? No! The same goes for professional relationships. Creative teams want to hire people they trust, and building that trust takes time.
Everybody is Human
It can be intimidating to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Just remember that everyone is human and wants to connect in a real way. As cliche as this is, just be yourself. You are human, and so is everyone you are talking to.
Connections are Everywhere
One misconception about networking is that you should only focus on networking with people who have the capacity to hire you right now. If you take anything away from this blog post, remember that no individual is more important than anyone else, and everyone deserves your respect and kindness. You never know who will be able to connect you with an opportunity (or vice versa!) down the road. The more kindness you put out there, the more that will come back to you. Nobody wants to work with a dancer who is grumpy and rude in the hallway and then turns on a fake smile in the audition room. Don’t be that person. Be nice.
Now that I am more comfortable with the concept of networking, it’s something that I get excited about. I love learning new things from new people, and making connections with them. Whether it is a choreographer, a dance teacher, or a fellow dancer, I am always open to expanding my network and building relationships. It always feels good to connect and broaden my community. I hope it’s something that you are excited about too!
Want to connect with me? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what your biggest question is right now about a career in dance or musical theatre. Or sign up for my mailing list below to get insider updates sent straight to your inbox!