I was going through some notes, trying to figure out what I should share next, and I kept coming back to this. As I thought about it more and more, I realized how powerful this technique is for entertainers to use in getting hired.
This one technique has worked on me numerous times. I booked entertainers for House of Cards and on every single tour that I have ever produced because of this one tip. If I’m being honest, this is a SUPER TIP - and when used correctly, can magically flip the switch and create tons of new work opportunities.
If you are an entertainer and you want to work an entertainment venue or start building a SOLID relationship with a booking agent, get someone, who has already proved to be a good fit at the venue, or that has worked with the agent and done a great job for him or her, to refer you with a glowing (and honest) recommendation.
There is an old business adage that says, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That has never proved to be more true than in this situation. And we are going to use that piece of knowledge to our advantage.
I hired an act one time to go overseas with me based on the recommendation from a trusted friend who is also an entertainer. My friend told me that this act was awesome at what they did and would be able to perform under virtually any circumstances.
At the time, that is exactly what I was looking for. Because of the types of audiences that we would be performing for, and the venues where the shows would be held, I needed entertainers for my tour that were bulletproof.
After he recommended them, I realized that I had seen them at a showcase many years before and that they had, in fact, been excellent.
Because my friend knew the act and also knew what I needed, he helped me and them by referring them. That one referral has given that act numerous bookings with me over the years.
In another instance, I was chatting with a different friend who is also an entertainer. I told him that I was looking for an entertainer whose main focus would be to entertain the kids in a family-friendly show that I was producing. This friend of mine told me about an entertainer I had met before, but had never seen work.
I trusted the friend’s recommendation and hired the entertainer. He proved himself to be a perfect fit and has worked with me on three national tours.
Personally, I was hired, years ago, by a cruise ship who had a relationship with a booking agent that pitched me. The agent told the entertainment director of the cruise line that I would be a good fit for them and they gave me a shot. I worked with that cruise line for over a year before I changed my business focus.
So, how does this work? How do we get other entertainers to refer us to booking agents and entertainment directors?
I guess it should go without saying that you need to make sure that you have an act, or are an entertainer, who is appropriate for the venue or agent that you are seeking work from. It does you no good to try and get hired by someone if you are not an entertainer who would be a good fit for them to work with.
There are two elements that seem to be present in each of my examples.
The person who is referring you has seen you work and can give an honest, enthusiastic recommendation.
The person who is referring you is someone that the Entertainment Director or Booking Agent trusts.
If I were trying to use this technique to get hired, I would first look to my network of entertainers who I know have seen me work. Preferably, I would connect with people who have seen me work and that I know are fans of what I do.
I would make sure that the person that I am considering contacting already has a relationship with the booking agent and entertainment director that I want to connect with. Then I would simply ask the person who I wish to refer me if they are comfortable referring me to the director or agent. It really is as simple as that.
After that, it’s up to me to make sure that I represent the person who referred me well. I shouldn’t have to say this, but if someone refers you to another party, that person is putting their name and reputation on the line. You must be prepared to live up to the expectation that they will create for you.
It is absolutely imperative that you conduct yourself professionally in all correspondence with the booking agent or entertainment director. After all, you are a direct reflection on your friend. You may or may not get the booking, but under no circumstances should you act any less than a total pro.
And if this person isn’t comfortable referring you to your desired target, don’t get upset with them. You have no idea why they are saying no. It may not have anything to do with you.
It’s very easy to take it personally, but that is a bad idea. There are all sorts of reasons that you don’t know why they may not be comfortable reaching out to the booking agent.
So let’s consider what else we can learn from this. I recommend building your social and professional circle of friends. The people who see you work today, can refer you to a potential buyer tomorrow. Of course I make this recommendation hoping that you are a someone who builds relationships for all the right reasons.
I shouldn’t have to type these words, but I will anyway…don’t seek to manipulate people. People can smell this type of behavior from a mile away and it will hurt your reputation tremendously.
So that is today’s Booking Agent Secrets tip. Work to get referred. Getting referred as almost like a magic bullet that ups your chances of getting hired massively. Best of luck out there!
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To read the first article in this series of business building tips for magicians, variety artists, and other entertainers, click here.
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