5 Ways Your Experience in Theater Can Help You at Your Next Networking Event
We all know that networking is one of the best ways to advance your career, but sometimes making that first connection can be a little difficult. But hey, luckily you participated in musical theater back in high school and there’s plenty you learned about connecting from all those hours on stage (aside from just how to do a killer box step.)
Here are 5 lessons you learned from the theater that you can use at your next networking event.
1. Actively Listen
As actors, we’re trained to use non-verbal cues to demonstrate our attentiveness in a scene. How do we do that? Eye contact. Body language. Facial expressions. Tone of voice. The same is true when networking. It may sound obvious, but eye contact, head nods, (natural) body gestures, and the way you speak validate your participation in the conversation and give the other person the confidence to continue speaking.
2. The Rule of “Yes, and…”
Technically this one comes from improv, but the “yes, and” rule dares you to collaborate with what your partner is saying and to build on it with a new contribution. In a networking scenario, you’re looking to make meaningful connections in a short amount of time, so employing the “yes, and” strategy will help you build bridges with the people that you meet. If you ask a question, listen, and listen with a genuine intent to learn something new. People tend to remember those they make a real connection with.
3. Share the Spotlight
No one is interested when “Networking Ned” goes on and on about his successes and triumphs at the firm. Yes, I am glad that you are growing and building your personal success, but no, I’m not exactly thrilled that you just spent a solid 20 minutes giving me all the details about a pitch you gave. Networking is all about learning about the other person to gauge if there is an opportunity to support one another in a future endeavor. Mirroring the give-and-take model of the theater, remember to make sure to share your thoughts or opinions in a meaningful (and concise) way and then step back to let the other person speak.
4. Be Prepared
As actors, we’d never go out on stage without our lines memorized. The same is true in networking. Write out three or four sentences to introduce yourself and share why you’re at the networking event. Are you looking to meet someone specific? Are you hoping to find someone who can give you the scoop about a company before you send in a job application? Are you looking for a mentor or a volunteer opportunity? Share your goal with each new person you meet. You never know who they could introduce you to.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
The people who are best at auditioning are those who have attended the most auditions. Go to as many networking events as you can to perfect your style, skills, and speech. It’s possible you’ll mess up at one, but have no fear – there’s another opportunity right around the corner.
What lessons have you learned from the theater that have benefited you in a networking situation? Tweet at us @TodayTix with your thoughts!