Your reports Find reports Feeling like a fraud: Can you get on in theatre if you’re not good at schmoozing? Feeling like a fraud: Can you get on in theatre if you’re not good at schmoozing? Convener(s): Helen Bryer Participants: came and went! Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: A lot of people feel like a fraud! Actually, when you stop feeling like a fraud with something, maybe it’s time to move on and challenge yourself again! It’s not just theatre. It’s not even just the arts. Everybody feels like a fraud! Networking is about storytelling and having interesting things to say… …so do you always need to talk about work? -It’s that thing of having an interesting chat with someone but having that niggle in the back of your mind that perhaps you need to start selling yourself! Sometimes it is worth doing that extra. The word ‘schmoozing’ implies something negative but it can actually be really positive. It’s a skill that you can develop! There are techniques you can use: -Go to ‘networking events’ with someone else. They can help sell you and you have the comfort of knowing somebody in the same position is there! It also means you’ve always got someone to talk to and you don’t feel like a wally in the corner! -Prepare yourself. Educate yourself about who you are talking to and about the things that interest you. That way, you always have things to talk about. -Chuck out all your horrible British self-deprecation before you enter the room! -Learn from the good networkers. Observe the people who can work a room. It’s easy to feel guilty, but we need to remember that we are a product and that this is a business! We need to advertise and sell. Feeling like we’re playing a game (a lot of people felt this, it seems!)- “I’m playing Scrabble without any vowels”- feeling like you need to namedrop and show recognition and knowledge about everything someone is saying: Can you be honest about what you don’t know? -Remember that potential employers have almost certainly been there too. -Trying to pretend things you blatantly don’t know just winds people up! Feeling pretentious! Describing yourself or talking about a show suddenly feels like you’re pitching (which you sort of are!) but you suddenly feel like you’re being false, even though you’re telling the truth. There are a lot of ‘good networkers’- these are people who are great at showing off! This creates pressure on people who don’t feel so confident. BE YOURSELF! -Drop the worry- if they like you they like you. If not, it isn’t a big deal. -They have to like you. “I wouldn’t work with someone unless I could go for a drink with them at the end of the day.” The post-show schmooze- isn’t it awful! -Say thank you -Remember that sometimes the ‘schmoozer’ is just as nervous as the ‘schmoozee’! And they need you too! -Some producers etc intentionally never stay after shows- isn’t there value in just judging the WORK, rather than how well somebody can talk the talk? Feeling like you’re being TESTED: -It’s hard to know what they want all the time -Remember that the game is also about you sussing out whether you like them! ‘Schmoozing’ might be something you always find hard but making contacts gets easier and easier. -Networking in general is about BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS. What about when you’re talking to THAT important person who you’d love to work with? -Ask their advice! This means you can chat to them without feeling under too much pressure, and it shows them you’re interested in what they do. -It’s not just about big names- you HAVE to like their work. It starts with the WORK -You must be able to feel confident about your own work, otherwise the whole networking process becomes redundant. “Where are these schmoozing events? Where are these cocktail parties where directors stand around chatting? Can I go to some please?!” New Work Network- website and real life events. -Technology is really useful but it’s really important to have real, face-to-face connections and dialogue. As a community (and a nation?) we can seem closed-off and unwelcoming- if we are more aware of this as individuals we can enable to people to come to us. -It’s about ENERGY. Conquer your fears! Tell someone “I loved such-and-such”- everybody likes a compliment if it’s really meant! Judge the moment. -If it isn’t right, don’t force it. -If the time isn’t right, there is a fear that you’ll never have the opportunity to speak to them again. You haven’t blown it! You can contact them and mention that you were at the event- this creates a connection. Put yourself in the way of opportunity. If you don’t make the effort there’s a guarantee they won’t know (or care) who you are. Helen feels a bit better now!