So, you’re off to IAAPA.
Most people heading to this annual confab in Orlando, next week, are going to seek business, meet with colleagues, discover new technologies and resources for adoption and enhancing product.
Some, though, will be looking for new contacts – or the renewal of old contacts – in search of a job or gig.
Things are happening all over the world in Themed Entertainment, these days, and this is a good year to be fresh and available. Heck, it may be a good year to be re-freshed and available!
Last week, the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) held one of its valuable NextGen Webinars in support of preparing the current crop of Able & Gifted young…and credentialed…creative minds for meeting prospective employers, mentors, advisors and generally circulating in the global milieu of themed entertainment and the effective seeking of jobs, therein.
So, for those of you who missed the webinar, or those of you who were on the broadcast and want a refresher, I am publishing a video of our Keynote, here (at the bottom of the page), along with bullets of the points made in our section of the conversation.
The title was:
“Positioning Yourself to Become a Themed Entertainment Pro” – with the sub-headers of…
- How do I find work in this industry?
- How can I make a good impression?
- How can I build my personal brand?
Positioning versus Preparation
The overarching umbrella for all of this is to Be Authentic. There is no secret to this; there is only this Key. So, in light of that, there is Preparation for articulating one’s authenticity, then Positioning for the job one seeks…as treads the path, seeking employment.
Prepare … by knowing who you are; what you are good at doing, what you thrill at doing, what fulfills you that you can do. Do listen to others when they offer opinions on what you “should” do; but make your decision based on what you want to do.
What’s a “Pro”?
The first distinction we make is the colloquially-nuanced difference between the words “Pro” and “Professional.” One can be both, though being a Professional does not necessarily qualify one as a Pro in the sense of being at the top of the game. It is quite possible – indeed, advisable – to enter the arena conducting oneself as a Professional. That is about conduct, ethics, ethos and assiduous attention to detail.
About a hundred years later, with much accomplishment under the proverbial belt, one gets to call oneself a Pro. Conduct yourself professionally for long enough and you will become a Pro.
Remember; and any of you who’ve been at the TEA Summit or SATE have heard from those of us gathered by the august and estimable Imagineer in Residence at SCAD, George Head, know; the degree you receive is only the beginning of your professional pathway. It is your ticket to find your way; not a substitute for actually having experience.
So, to get the experience; you gotta getta job.
The term “Elevator Pitch” comes from the extemporaneous encounter in an elevator with a person to whom you wish to pitch an idea (or, in this case, to pitch yourself).
You have 30 seconds. What are you going to say? You’re wanting to impress with your value, then get an interview. This is not your interview.
- Of course, first, it depends on who is the Pitchee. If one is wanting to be a creative director or a show producer – either of which one might choose to be, based on skill and talent – on one’s way to Production Executive-hood; it would depend on who was encountered, which skills or assets one might highlight in that spare window of opportunity which pitch one might lob.
- Thus, it might be handy to have more than one “pitch” in the arsenal for use at the right opportunity.
- Practice on your friends, aloud; telling them what you want to do and what you bring to the table that is uniquely suited to that. (You might try practicing on your parents, but they’ll probably insist you get a Real Job and stop wasting your time with Fairydust. So, be prepared for that. Your Grandma will probably be more supportive. So is the way of the world.)
- Remember: it’s not what you WANT to do that s/he needs to hear; it’s what you can do for your Pitchee that is most important.
- And, as you elucidate your value, you must communicate your passion and commitment.
- Qualification is Assumed, at this moment (you’ll have to prove that, later, once you’ve landed an actual interview).
- Make it personal, from the heart, from the start. If it sounds rehearsed, you may as well go sell used cars.
- If it would help your case, have one or two photos (and, by that, I mean ONE or TWO) of exemplary projects or accomplishments of which you are proud on your phone ready to share, accessed by a tap or two. (Do I have to suggest you build a special album and place it within the first three in the column? I didn’t think so. Keep it HANDY.)
- Remember; just as though you are on a Manhattan sidewalk, don’t slow ‘em down and they’ll stay friendly…
Tools at Your Disposal
- Don’t use the default “link” or “friend” buttons. Send a message that you’d like to connect and why…what’s in it for them?
- Perhaps comment on something a desired contact has posted, then follow up (later) with a request to link or friend…
- Do your research on people with whom you want to speak.
- On the above; at least have googled these individuals before you actually meet with them. Seriously: know who you are meeting and know about their company.
- This helps to personalize your correspondence.
- Assume nothing; not knowledge of you, not a common frame of reference, nothing.
- As far as that goes, don’t assume they will even respond to you. Generation after generation has a healthy percentage of people for whom Courtesy just ain’t natural. Don’t take it personally.
Portfolio or Body of Work
- Edit the living hell out of it. Less is more.
- Show what’s unique to you; what sets you apart. Basic skill levels are, in this context, assumed.
- Share it digitally. You may (as an artist) carry a portfolio, but have it on a flash drive you can leave behind or in a format you can email. Now is always better and ease of retrieval trumps Big, Honkin’ Portfolio in some drawer.
You are Your Personal Brand
- There is nothing to make up, here. Communicate YOU.
- Nurture that which is You. Follow your own Vision or Dream for your future.
- If, in pursuit of that dream, you discover that’s not what you want to do; that’s GREAT information. So stop, quit, move on to what newly inspires you as your vision clears.
- There is no time limit, and there is no limit on the number of careers or jobs you can have.
- Nothing is forever…especially now.
- And…don’t do it for the money. Just figure you’re not going to get rich, doing this. Some do, and not always the ones who are the best at it. There’s a lot of luck in all of this. If you can be happy not making a lot of money, you’ll be even happier if you do make a lot of money…just don’t count on that being part of the equation.
- One must find fulfillment in putting smiles and looks of wonder on those cute, little faces at knee-height, throughout this world…
As we said, above, There is No Trick to This
- Be authentic. If that doesn’t fly, then what you know is that you don’t want to work for that person, because it would not work! (As with dating; the true you is going to show up at some point, so may as well launch with it.)
- Follow up…by asking how you should follow up, then doing that with a dose of reality. By that “reality,” we mean keep in mind that time flows differently for people managing companies or working in corporations. S/he may say, “…call me in a week and I’ll get back to you…,” and mean it when s/he says it. But most of these people have daily logistical support such that other people manage their calendars and their paychecks are deposited automatically … leaving them with an altered sense of time and it’s passage.
- Be patient. It’s not personal.
- And…don’t believe your own press. You may have been called the best thing to come out of your Art of Business or Film or Theatre School in the past decade, and perhaps you are…but what does that mean to the people for whom you want to work. That “best” is subjective and contextual; now you are playing in Reality. (Creating fantasy…ironic, ain’t it?)
So. It’s about Embracing your Passion & Being Authentic.
- Be yourself.
- Clean up a bit.
- Dress nice.
- By now you’ve heard, “Dress for the job you want, not the job(less) you have…” Even if “they” wear jeans and t-shirts to work where you want to work; class up for your first impression; you’ll make a better impression.
- Later, when you’re in a t-shirt and someone’s on the way to a client meeting; they’ll know you know how to clean up and talk nicely. Perhaps they’ll ask you along.
- These things matter.
- They do.
Now, get out there and get a job so’s you can hire us Seasoned Consultants to collaborate with you. We’ll help you look good and you’ll help us stay current. Win-Win.
Video of Webinar Keynote (Opens in separate window, in case you wish to refer to it while reading.)
“IMHO” the book is a free download from iBooks or iTunes. Take advantage of it!