In Showbusiness, It’s Not About Who You Know

Getting To Know YouA common adage in showbiz (or anything really) is, “It’s all about who you know.

But I’m sorry to tell you, this statement won’t get you very far.

It’s relatively easy to cross paths with Broadway stars, toast with a big name producer at a party, shake hands with a top casting director at a networking event, or even be Facebook friends with key contacts.

However, the better adage for real success in showbiz, is, “It’s all about who knows you.

Simply having crossed paths with the people you’d like to know is a good start to building a relationship, but until that person will return your calls or emails or recognize you on the street, you don’t know them and they don’t know you.

I frequently make introductions for the wonderful people in my network to the other wonderful people in my network and they do the same for me. In fact, when I was new to NYC and knew hardly anyone, I sat down with a few industry people who I had met over the years. I sought their wisdom and advice about the business and at the end of each conversation I’d ask, “who else should I be talking to?”

Inevitably they’d make an introduction which would lead to another meeting and another introduction and in time (and many cups of coffee and glasses of wine) I had built – and continue to be building – a huge network of incredible contacts, colleagues and friends.

Our theater industry is made up of a relatively small community and odds are someone you know knows someone you want to know and may be willing to make an introduction for you. These days, with LinkedIn and Facebook, figuring out connections has never been easier. Take the time to put in the legwork to get a real introduction.

Becoming “known” in the theater business takes time, diligence, and putting yourself out there to as many people as you can whether they be interns or icons. It’s about showing up, following up, helping people, asking for help, and being part of the community.

It’s a lifetime endeavor, but the rewards are limitless. Because dropping names can only take you so far. Creating meaningful contacts can make your career.

2 Responses to In Showbusiness, It’s Not About Who You Know

  1. Charlie Fink says:

    So true, Brisa. A book could be written on this subject. When you’re starting out, it’s especially important to network. Every connection leads to another connection, but only if people like you, and only if you pay it forward, asking nothing but friendship in return. Be generous with your peers, and grateful when those with more experience share their wealth of knowledge with you. Help someone on the way up, because you’re going to meet them again on the way down. Favors I did fifteen years ago, when I needed them myself, pay off today in unexpected ways. Finally, check the attitude at the door. Theater, and the world, owe you nothing. If you’re thinking your talent and ambition are the things that make you deserving, if you’ve got a chip on your shoulder, you’re going to be very lonely, and unsuccessful. Your brilliant script will go begging, unread and unfound. Things only come to you when you give, not when you take. Make yourself indispensable, do what you say you’re going to do, and care for others more than yourself. Then you’ll find the game, the relationships, the producers, artistic directors, and hot projects, come to you. And never forget that theater gives you a life, not a living. We are all in it to do it. If that alone is not enough to sustain you, now would be a good time to change horses.

  2. Brisa says:

    Great advice. Thanks Charlie!

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