Personal recommendations – curse or blessing?
How do you get new bookings? Do you send out promo material, contact people via email, do cold calls, go to auditions, send letters, or have personal appointments? These are all great options, and they might even work (or not). However, nothing beats a personal recommendation. Why?
Finding a way in
When you are starting a business, or trying to enter new markets, it can be quite frustrating to hit a firewall over and over again. I have contacted hundreds of agencies, theatres, and production companies over the years and often wondered what they were looking for: I had high-quality videos, great photos, international working references, and creative ideas. But somehow, all this wasn’t enough for guaranteeing smooth access. In some cases, I managed to get a new client – however, many contacts didn’t come through at all.
In other cases, I have been recommended by a friend or colleague. A week later, I held a signed contract in my hands – sometimes even without showing any of my gadgetry. So, what was the missing link? How does a personal suggestion outclass any other point of contact? It is trust.
In my book “Collaborating Backstage”, I dedicated a whole chapter on various aspects of professional trust. They range from basic attitudes like being punctual and reliable, no drugs, no stealing, etc. to more complex facets like capability trust. This part means that people can trust you to not only deliver the expected quality, but that can do so throughout the entire contract. For example, if you are a fantastic singer, but you physically can’t go through 10 shows a week (as the agreement suggests), you are likely to break the companies professional trust by sitting at home drinking tea.
The most important part, however, is communicational trust. It refers to your ability to integrate your skills into the group, being respectful and productive while trying your best to achieve maximum results. This aspect is hard to measure, and it is not observable in any CV, promo video, or headshot. That’s where personal recommendations come into play: When a company found someone they enjoy working with, a recommended person probably has a somewhat similar attitude. Chances are, the attached network of someone you trust already is like-minded. As a result, personal recommendations appear as a shortcut to developing trust.
The not so good news is: Alongside your promo material, you need to find ways to prove your trustworthiness. This demands constant creativity as there is no fixed recipe for individual success.
The very good news is: It gets easier down the road. The bigger your trusted network, the more often you will be recommended, which further expands your contacts and so forth.
If you want to read more about this topic, please look into my book “Collaborating Backstage” or contact me directly. I am happy to hear your thoughts about this topic!
And here comes my favorite advice to develop trust:
Stay positive and focused! 😊