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Addicted to Comedy by Wayne Manigo: Networking – The Comedian’s Life Line!
Thanks to everyone who emailed me about building contacts via business cards. This week I’ll discuss a few of my networking techniques.
Networking at Comedy Clubs:
The goal of every comedian should be to get as much stage time as possible. One thing I’ve noticed is how someone will introduce themselves without doing their homework. What have you learned about the owner, venue, or their work habits and environment? I consider comedy to be a battlefield, so I examine all the ‘officers’ before making a move. Comedy bookers has a team of people their trust, and a recommendation from someone else got me noticed faster than my approaching them directly. Spend time talking to the wait staff and the bartenders. Much like in business, once you have identified ‘The Gatekeepers‘ – you can work to make them your allies. Treat them right and they’ll help open doors for you.
If you are performing at a show, have something you can hand out to the audience. Headliners and features usually have merchandise to sell, but I’m not at the level yet. But I do have business cards, and some of my fellow comics have created post cards contact information. If I kept ‘em laughing while I was on stage, the hard work is done. Hopefully they’ll take my contact information and continue to follow me.
Networking with other comedians:
Have you recognized the value of networking with other comedians? After the shows are over, do you spend a few minutes with comic to identify potential projects? When I started comedy, I became frustrated waiting for weeks to perform a 5 minute set. It occurred to me that if I wanted more stage time, it became necessary to create my own shows. It began with open mic shows, and after a few months I created comedy showcases for people with longer comedy sets. It amazes me how comics are disappointed for not being asked to perform, yet they won’t stay around to ask the basic questions. Let’s face it – comics are a chatty group. You need to stick around to hear about what is happening on the scene.
Networking with the media:
When I started my first open mic show, I contacted a local publication called ‘On Tap Magazine’. I wrote for them previously, and I recruited their assistance to promote my show. It debuted with almost 100 people in the audience. Using that article, I contacted some of the local bloggers and asked if they would attend a future show and create a post about it. Once they show up, I’d thank them personally with a handshake and a beer. Never underestimate the value of anyone’s time, especially if they are helping you!
My goal is to have 2-3 articles written about me and my comedy projects every year. The key is doing this while being as ‘non-intrusive’ as possible. I’ll attend media based events and network with their staff. Most comedians (including myself) are usually ‘ON’ during special events, and you will be remembered if you create lasting impressions. I was hired to perform for a political fund raiser because someone recalled how entertaining I was at a previous engagement. It may seem like a lot of work at times, but the efforts are definitely worth the rewards.
Networking with Social Media:
Thanks to tools like Twitter, Facebook, Meetup.com, emails, and countless others – keeping in touch with an audience is easier than ever. What shocks me is how comedians won’t use these tools to gain additional fans. They’ll post about their upcoming shows, latest videos, but won’t take a few minutes to say hello to their Facebook or Twitter followers. In other words, they lack a ‘Social Media Strategy’. I’m not saying to address all of your fans…but make the effort to make a few comments on other people’s tweets and Facebook wall. Show them you’re a real person and that you care!
Remember: These are only suggestions based on my experiences in comedy, and your town may be slightly different. But I hope this post is generic enough to help you develop ways to expand your comedy network. I could easily write an entire post on each topic, and will probably do so in a future post. Now get out there and build your audience.
Wayne Manigo is a comedian and co-founder of DC Comedy Writers Group. He is the creator of “Addicted to Comedy,” and the ‘brainchild’ behind the annual comedy conference, Starting Stand Up: A Comic Beginning. He also produces the show, Bellylaughs in Bethesda at Caddies at Cordell.