[net]work it out, baby.
Hey beautiful people! Memorial Day is upon us...for some, it's a busy work day, for some it's party time, or for others, party time might be DIY projects 'til you drop. However you're spending today, I want to encourage you to set aside some gratitude time for those who have sacrificed to keep our country safe and running. I know our readers cover a wide span of political opinions, but I hope today we can strive to cover the distances between us with love, love, and a little more love.
Today we're talking work. Networking, specifically! For many of us, this term can sound a little daunting.
"Where do I start?"
"I don't know the right people."
"I'm new in town."
"I'm afraid of rejection."
One thing is for certain, my friend: networking gets easier the more you do it. Just like driving a car: the first time you slide behind the wheel and face all the bells and whistles, it's hard to remember that the first step is simply turning the key. But before you know it, it feels like second nature. You know what to anticipate, where to look, and what to do in a high-stakes situation.
Keeping in mind that this process will get easier the more you practice, I wanted to give you some guideposts to get you started. Part of the trick is finding your authentic connection with people. We all know how it feels to meet someone who makes you feel like just a number. And boy, do we know how it feels to talk with someone who takes genuine interest. You see what I'm getting at? As you incorporate these starter tips, remember this wise, #strongwoman quote I've held dear:
"I don't want to be the woman who walks in and says, 'Here I am!' I want to be the woman who walks in and says, 'There YOU are!'"
The confidence it takes to live in this reality is strong, my dears. Knowing what you have to offer, feeling confident expressing yourself without selling yourself, and being able to find the strengths in your peers is. an. art. And it takes time. So without further ado, here are some tools for the old toolbelt, collected from mentors and sages who have walked the walk.
1. No Small Opportunities
People, I can't stress this one enough. Most of my work has been the result of showing up prepared, coached, and ready to roll on other gigs. When a conductor or director knows that she doesn't need to worry about you, that you know your stuff and are flexible, professional and collaborative, they will remember you. I've heard it straight from the source and experienced the benefits.
Whether it's the chorus, 12 solo notes, or a principal role, you be sure you're not the one the cast has to wait on in rehearsal.
Additionally, this state of preparation allows you to relax a bit more and be your most authentic, musical self. Read: you shine your LIGHT, baby.
2. Who DO you know?
Ok, so, you might not know THAT conductor (or teacher, or director, or...) but I will take this opportunity to remind you that the world of the arts is quite petite, ma cherie. You probably know someone who knows them, or worked with them, or who knows someone who works with them...get it? Get your Nancy Drew on and sleuth around. If you find a connection, ask for an intro email:
"Hi there! I hope all is going well on your current endeavors! I'm still getting emails about our last show together, and it continues to remind me what a gift that project was. I wanted to take a second to connect you with Ellen Broen, who is new in the area and is a fantastic mezzo and actress. I hope you two get a chance to work together. I just did a show with Ellen and she is a fabulous musician and human. Give your mom a hug for me."
(an actual email written on my behalf!)
If there isn't time for them to write an email, ask if you can mention their name when you reach out to the intended connection:
"Hi, Name, Ellen Broen passed along your contact information when we were discussing an upcoming project I'm hosting. I'm looking for a Don Jose and she assured me you were her favorite!...."
3. Keep in contact
Even if it's been awhile, don't feel shy about dropping a line!
"Hi Maestro, just finished another Donna Anna and it reminded me of my first Don G a few years back. You made that experience so positive and I hope all your current projects are going well. I'm off to Virginia next month for a Nozze and then will be back in the city. If you have some time, I'd love to schedule a coaching and catch up!"
There's no magic formula, but these small practices are sure to build you a positive track record in the community. Above all, strive for authenticity and professionalism. You only get one chance to make a first impression and there's only one you, baby.
Ready to saddle up? Get amped with more tools in this week's video.
As always, sending big love to you powerful people.