Effective networking is all about building a network of contacts relevant to your industry that can help you achieve your goals or develop your career.
Your network is built upon the direct or indirect relationships you have with real people. Therefore, you need to manage your network properly, nurture it and keep it strong in order for it to benefit you.
As part of our resources for artists we've pulled together advice on timeline, strategy and guidelines to consider when approaching industry members.
- Decide why you’re coming: Think about why you are coming to the Fringe and what you want out of your experience.
- Create achievable objectives: Think about what stage you are at in your career and what the next logical step would be.
- Research: Start doing some research into recent Fringe successes and examine the trajectories of successful artists with whom you feel you have a similarity.
- Prepare touring information: See below for what to do
- Inform current contacts: Think about who you already know and how they might be able to help: programmers who have booked your work before, journalists who have reviewed you favourably. Make them aware of your Fringe plans and invite them to see a performance. Where appropriate, ask them to alert their own network of contacts to your performances.
- Get in touch with the Fringe Society: Contact the Artist Development team via [email protected] to discuss your objectives for the Fringe.
- Invite people: Based on your research and advice from the Artist Development team, create a targeted invitation list of industry professionals who you think would be interested in your work. Invite them to see the show during its run in Edinburgh as early as possible as they start building their schedules early.
During the Fringe
- Follow up: Send a gentle reminder to those on your initial round of invitations.
- Visit the Arts Industry Office and touch base with the Artist Development team about who else to invite to your show.
- Network: Take advantage of as many events and opportunities as possible. Talk to the office to find out about specific networking events.
- Keep track of who’s coming: Through ongoing dialogue with the Arts Industry Office and your venue, keep track of who is coming to see your show and make contact with them.
- Arrange meetings: Take advantage of the opportunity to meet people face to face to get feedback and/or discuss your show further with anyone who is interested.
- Be prepared to provide touring information: Provide additional hard copy or electronic information for promoters who request it.
- Evaluation: Consolidate everything you have achieved from your Fringe experience; sales figures, reviews, conversations and feedback from industry professionals.
- Update your show information pack: Use these resources to supplement your show information pack and to develop conversations with potentially interested bookers.
- Organise your contacts: Create a database for all the contacts you have made.
- Maintaining the contacts you have made: Don’t bombard them with information but keep promoters up to date with subsequent work and invite them to see performances, particularly if you are playing in a location near to them.
Do's and don'ts
Do your homework. Ensure you understand the promoter's curatorial brief in terms of the type of work they programme and the size and technical capacity of their venue(s).
Do remember that promoters talk to each other. The circuit of influential arts industry professionals is actually rather small and they all know each other. If one of them has had a bad experience with an artist or if companies are bad-mouthing promoters or each other, then you can be sure that they will be discussing this with each other in the bar! On a positive note, if one such promoter sees your show and likes it, you may well have a stampede of their colleagues coming to see your performances.
Do have all the relevant information that they might need to hand. Make sure you have contact details, tour information (including numbers on the road, technical requirements and any educational wraparound that you may be able to deliver) and costs readily available so that you can communicate the basic, practical aspects of booking your show quickly and clearly.
Do make sure that the requested material you give or send them is professional, high-quality and contains all the key information about your show.
Do network. Get out there and be seen, make sure that you are always ready and prepared to talk about your show in a professional way. There are hundreds of other artists competing for exactly the same thing so don’t underestimate the value of having a really good conversation with someone. Make use of any existing contacts or supporters to introduce you; it’s an old adage but still relevant – It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Do be professional. Your work could be extraordinarily good and absolutely suitable but a bad attitude could ruin your chances. Promoters tend to work with people they actually like, so charm is at a premium.
Don’t harass them. They are dealing with a lot of artists and seeing a great many shows, you aren’t the only person seeking their attention. If you don’t get a response it doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t turn up at your performance anyway, but pursuing them too avidly is usually counter-productive. If they are interested, they will be in touch.
Don’t send lengthy emails and lots of attachments unsolicited; promoters won’t appreciate it.
Don’t bombard them with unwanted hard copy information in Edinburgh; most of that ends up in hotel bins. Keep your promotional material down to the bare essentials and agree with each individual what, if anything, they would like to receive from you by email or post once they have returned home.
Don’t send footage of your entire show or provide them with the full script unless they ask for it, it’s usually not helpful. Video footage is useful only if it is a short but high-quality representation of your work (five minutes maximum).
Don’t feel that the promoter owes you something simply because you have their contact details and have had a brief correspondence. Don’t add them to your general mailing list unless they ask - by all means ask them if you can add them to your mailing list, but don’t just do it as standard.
Touring and information packs
If you have already performed your show elsewhere then it is likely that you will have already gathered positive press, good audience numbers, interesting images and possibly recorded footage. Collate and have this information available to give or send to promoters that you meet in Edinburgh.
Ideally your information pack should contain:
- Two or three good images
- A video clip (recommended five-minute extract) which allows the booker to get a feel for your work if they haven’t already seen it. Ensure that the quality of the clip is good; badly filmed footage will not show your work off to its best advantage.
- A press release
- A description of the piece that is easy to understand. Keep it simple. Get someone who does not know your work to proofread it to ensure clarity.
- An artistic statement about the ambitions of the company, if that is not already clear from the show description.
- Information on any wraparound activity that the company can undertake.
- A tour schedule (if you have one) so they or their colleagues can come see your work if they haven’t already.
- Examples of your promotional material and reviews, quotes from audience members.
- Contact details
Rather than handing out hard copies, give promoters a small card or leaflet with contact information and an image that will remind them of your show and send them the full information pack once they have returned home.
In addition, you may want to create a separate technical tour pack that you can send out to venues which will detail all of your technical requirements. This differs from an information pack as it details more specific information that will be required ahead of a get in, whereas an information pack will help you in selling the show to interested industry members and allow them to learn more about you and your company. It may be worth letting them know that a technical tour pack is available on request. The technical tour pack may include:
- A stage plan, including lighting rig(s) and sound desk.
- Technical aspects you will be bringing.
- Technical aspects the venue will need to provide or assist with.
- Your stage management set up.
- Any marketing materials you are bringing.
Make sure your website has up to date ‘Industry Section’ which also houses all of the above information so this can be accessed by interested promoters at any time. Make sure any printed material you’re handing out has your website address on it.
Keep notes of any conversations you’ve had, even - or perhaps particularly - if some of that conversation was about football or politics or the dreadful weather. This is so you can send them exactly what they asked for in terms of your show but also personalise your letter of introduction, subtly reminding them of the discussions - football, politics or weather - that you have already had and thus who you are out of the many people they met.
If, after Edinburgh you are sending your information pack to people who have not seen the show, include any additional reviews, awards or feedback received during the festival. If an industry member particularly liked your show, ask them whether they would be happy for you to use their name in introductions to other promoters in the same region or country.
If an industry member is not interested then ask for feedback. This can be difficult for both of you. Be positive, listen and learn from any feedback. It may not be anything to do with the quality of your work but the fact that they have a very specific remit or are operating under particular constraints technically or in terms of their audience, timings or budget. Ask for recommendations of other venues who might find your work of interest.