Hey Dave – One of the guys I work with was telling me how he does these after hours networking things where people (mostly young adults) from all different businesses hand out business cards to each other, and get to know each other and see if they can make a bridge to possibly do business in the future. He told me they have entertainers there (mostly DJ’s). I want to go to this thing when I get my DVD, and try to plan for booking Christmas parties and other parties these places might have. Any advice on what you would be looking for if someone came to you looking to get booked for your company/event? Would it be tacky to carry around my promo stuff like my bio and resume with me? Or should I offer to send that to them at a later date? – DB
Hey DB – Why am I having a hard time thinking of anyone in this crazy business who isn’t tacky at least once in awhile? You can put on a suit and be a complete professional to represent yourself, but sometimes you have a little “edge” to make your presence known if you want to get ahead.
I’m not talkin’ pushy, but hopefully you get the idea. If not, here’s what I mean…
Good promoting can lead to good sales. There are a lot of salespeople that get business by being total professionals with a good “sales pitch” and promotional material. Then again, there are times when a door is starting to close in their face and they just can’t help it… call it instinct, training, experience or determination… but they just can’t stop themselves from sticking their foot in the door and making one last sales pitch.
Yeah, that term has a way of coming up when talking about certain sales techniques. But if you want the business and have a product (in our case we’re talking about your comedy act or speaker presentation) that deserves to be considered, you have to find ways to let the buyer know. If you don’t, you can bet someone else will.
Okay, first things first.
What would I be looking for if it was my job to book someone (a comedian or speaker) for a company event? I’ve said this numerous times in past FAQs And Answers, but will use the opportunity for a quick reminder…
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When I was booking corporate (business) shows we always looked for G-rated material.
Okay, PG at the max – and that only depended on the type of company and what the boss or event planner requested. But honestly, those were few and far between. Everyone else was too worried about someone – anyone, including the boss and employees – being offended during a company event.
The comedians I used the most knew how to entertain these audiences with their regular topics (the material they were also doing in the comedy clubs), but could keep it squeaky clean for corporate events. In other words, the laughs didn’t depend on dropping an F-Bomb, graphic sex jokes, or bathroom humor. The guy at work who stands around the coffee machine telling jokes and the company prude could both be entertained at the same time.
Can you do that?
If you want to be player in the corporate comedy or speaking biz, it’s a requirement. That’s the first concern and there’s no getting around it.
Now that we’ve made that perfectly clear, I’ll stick my foot in the door and continue this conversation…
The after hours business card meetings sound very promising. Your goal is to connect with any event planners and people from the Human Resource Departments. From experience, other than the boss, these are the people that are usually in charge of the company events, or at least have some say in how it will all work. Of course anyone can put in a recommendation if they have an event or party coming up, so don’t be tacky and avoid anyone who might not appear to be important enough to give you a job. They might just be the break room jokester or office prude the CEO is concerned with keeping entertained and not offended.
Is it tacky to carry your promo material with you in this type of situation?
Yes, I think so.
But here’s the deal, all your promotional material should be online anyway. Do you have a dedicated website? If not – you should. That’s one way to make it clear you’re a professional. Sending a business client to your Facebook page to find your promotional video between photos of that day’s lunch and your cat is not going to result in too many paid gigs – if any at all.
I recommend you always be prepared to make a sales pitch if the opportunity arises. That’s why every professional still carries business cards that will direct a potential client to your website. You never know when or where you’ll make your next valuable connection.
But again, being professional is the key. And it’s different in the business world than in the entertainment business world – and I’ll give you an example.
When I was at The Improv in New York and Hollywood, there were always a lot of showcases (auditions) for television shows. And not just for shows that used standup comedians. Quite often there was casting for sitcoms or movies and with these types of showcases, if the casting person was looking for a certain “type,” all the auditioning performers would be scheduled because they fit that “type.”
For example, you might have ten comedians auditioning for a specific role. If they were looking for a male – there would be ten men auditioning. Female – ten women. The showcase would be booked around the casting call for a specific type.
But not every comic that fit the desired type could be on the showcase.
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There would be only an x amounts of spots to be seen over x amount of time. So usually there were lots of comedians that didn’t get the opportunity to audition. But quite often the professional comedians in NYC and LA had their promotional material with them – or close enough (in their car) so they could have it within a matter of minutes if there would be a chance to network. And a lot of times if they weren’t on a showcase but thought they should’ve been given the opportunity, they’d hang around the club until the casting person was leaving and ask if they would accept it as a submission.
What’s the worse that can happen? Being told NO? You’ve already been told that when you weren’t asked to be part of the showcase.
So is it as tacky as a salesman sticking his foot in a closing door? Yeah, but like a final sales pitch for a good product, sometimes it works.
The idea is not to waste an opportunity.
But remember, the business you’re talking about networking for – bookings in the corporate market – is different than the entertainment business I was just talking about. It would definitely be tacky to carry around full promotional packages at one of these business card-trading events.
Most promotion today is done online.
So, the bottom line to giving yourself the “edge” without coming off as “tacky” is to always be prepared to network and promote. In this day and age that means keeping your dedicated website updated and don’t forget your business cards. That’s the simplest business tool for networking and promoting – and makes the effort a lot easier than carrying around “old fashioned” promotional packages that no one else will want to carry around after you hand it to them.
And the best part about networking with only business cards? There’s nothing tacky about it. In fact, in this business it’s expected.
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Thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!
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