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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Networking Is Necessary

Wednesday May 19th, 2010 - Chicago, IL/St. Charles, IL

   It’s only now that I’m really starting to grasp just how important building a network can be in terms of working in the entertainment business. People really do talk, and when I’ve been able to keep my name in front of someone who can do something for me, it’s usually paid off at least one time or another. The question is, how can I do it the most efficiently?

   There’s a fine line between updating someone regularly and being a flat out pest. We’re all bombarded with emails and texts and most of those aren’t important so how can I keep my name and availabilities in someone’s head without bothering them? I wish I could say I knew, but I don’t. Nobody does. Everyone has different ways they digest information.

   I’ve built up enough of a reputation with enough bookers around the country that I have people calling me for work. I do a solid job and can handle myself in most situations from a stage standpoint because I’m so experienced. I’ve seen it all and nothing rattles me, so a booker knows I’ll do the job more often than not even if there’s a flood or a wild heckler.

   I don’t know how proud of that fact I am, but it’s true. I get calls from bookers all over who are ‘trying something out’ and use me as the guinea pig. It could be anything from a deaf mute biker rally to a gay lumberjack bake sale, or both. In the same weekend. Across the country. In a blizzard. And I have to be squeaky clean. With PowerPoint. In Yiddish.  

   Somehow, over the years I’ve been able to pull most of those kinds of shows off. That’s probably why I get so many calls for work today, but I’m still painfully lax on keeping the people who could possibly hire me informed I’m even alive. If I did, I bet I’d easily triple the amount of work coming in, and get paid more too because I could afford to be choosy.

   Today Marc Schultz held a networking lunch with some of the clients he books through the year. Those are always fun, so I went hoping to meet some new people. Marc is one of the nicest bookers I’ve ever met, and everyone who knows him loves him. He invited Tim Walkoe and me, but we were the only comedians. The rest ran the entire gamut of variety.
 
   There were magicians and jugglers and a ventriloquist and even a couple of other ladies who book entertainment that Tim and I have both worked for in the past. It was a fun time socially, but also a nice chance to network with people from another branch of a business that traditionally hires by word of mouth. This was a good opportunity for each one of us.

   Occasionally people ask if I might know any number of different kinds of acts, so if I’m able to recommend someone and get them work I’m more than happy to do it. That’s how networking pays off, and I’ve had it come back to me in the past from other entertainers.

   Tonight I went to Pheasant Run in St. Charles to meet in person with a small group that has been interested in a comedy class, but not enough to make an actual class. I met with them personally and answered questions they had, and I could tell they were impressed by my willingness to do so. No problem, that’s networking too. To do it is smart business.

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