Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Your Online Presence: Personal v. Professional

What’s your email address?  I bet it’s something like your name, or your initials and a few numbers, or your name and your business, etc.  What was your email address 10 years ago?  Mine was curlygurl516@aol.com.  Cute, right?  Professional, no.  The way we use the internet has evolved over the past 10 years.  Have you?

I struggle with the idea of the personal and professional in my online identity.  After all, I interact with my friends and family, as well as business and professional colleagues via the world wide web.  So how can I balance the various parts of myself, revealing the right things to the right people, and still maintaining who I am, on this vast network of never ending information?

I think the most important thing to do is learn your privacy settings.  If you don’t want the whole world to see it, you’d better set them on high security.  Photos on Facebook from Friday night are best kept to yourself and the people you were out with (I'm at a bar in the photo above, is it appropriate?).  Then again, there are things you DO want everyone to see, like that award you received, the article you published, or your fabulous resume (but maybe not your address and home phone).  I recommend keeping your Linked In strictly professional so you have a safe platform on which to promote your professional self.

 A word on twitter:  TWEETS SHOW UP IN GOOGLE SEARCH.  Therefore, even though your boss doesn’t follow you on twitter, she/he can find the nasty things you’ve been tweeting about your job on google….whoops.  I prefer twitter as a more professional source where you can really have a personality.  To be honest, if I follow you, and you’re going to whine about your day via tweet, I will un-follow you.  If you mix up your tweets with great industry information and interesting snippets of your personal life, I will look forward to what you have to say.  (You can follow me at @thecastparty, let me know you found me through the blog and I’ll send you some love!)

If you’re one of the millions of bloggers in the US, you’ve probably struggled with the personal/professional balance.  Let’s be honest, if you’re all business, you’re boring, and if you put in too many personal details, we can’t take you seriously, or your life is a book on the net.  I don’t want the world to know about my weird rash  (wait what?), maybe you do, but that’s a decision you have to make as a blogger.  Additionally, while my Grandma and BFF might want to see cute pictures of my cat, most of my business colleagues don’t care.  That’s why I keep it relevant here on the biz blog, and I keep a personal blog for Aunt Sally and my friends from grade school.

Your online presence is really about your audience.  Know who your audience is on each platform, know who has access to what, and reveal accordingly.  Don’t be afraid to adjust either!  If you find you’ve been too stiff, or too loose, mix it up.  So, here’s the part where I ask for your help.  Is The Cast Party too stiff, too loose, what do you want to read more of?  What do you want to read less of?  You’re the audience, let me know what you want!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friends with Benefits?

<--Not that kind.  I'm talking about the friend turned business partner/investor/collaborator, etc.  When is it ok to work with your friends? 

Chances are, you've worked with friends before.  In our business, the people you work with often become your friends.  These friends, you can usually always work with because the relationship was established first as one of business, and later that of friendship.  However, the friend first, business second relationship can be a tenuous one, so it's important to pick your "bedfellows" carefully.

There's no clear way to determine who you work well with, but there are definitely some indicators to help you decide who to work with, who to approach with investments, and whose creative eye to consult.

1. So that friend from college you met in a chugging contest on the bar at McFaddens.... yea, probably not your best business partner, but you knew that.

2. Can you plan a trip with this person and NOT get frustrated?  Snag them fast, you work well together!

3. If you've slept with them they're out of the running.  Also, think twice about someone you've made out with while drunk.

4. Your friend who's desperate for a job/ desperately broke... not a good match.

5. A friend with a waaaaaay better job/ financial situation than you, also not a good match.

6. A friend you admire for their work ethic/creativity/drive, go for it.

7. If you've successfully lived with someone in the past (roomate status, not an ex), and are no longer living with this person, you can consider working with them. 

8. Do NOT try collaborating with someone you live with now, unless you are both saintly, you'll probably get sick of each other.

9. It's ok to ask your trust fund friends to invest in your show, IF they are interested in the material and you know you can deliver a quality product.  Squandering their money on an iffy project will screw you in the long run.  Trust fund kids tend to be connected ;)

10.  Finally, if you are going to work with a friend, be sure that you both clearly lay out your expectations, goals, and plans.   If things don't work out, at least you'll have paper proof of whose fault it is :) j/k

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breaking out of the Business

 (photo borrowed from insighthealthcoaching.com)

As a young professional, you probably spend a lot of time trying to break into the business.  You know, networking, schmoozing, working for free, learning the tricks of the trade, stalking experts in your field...ok maybe not stalking.  While it's extremely important to learn the ins and outs of the theater industry, it's also crucial that you break out of the box every now and again. 

Chat up your friend who's an up and coming investment banker (maybe someday you can hit her up to invest in your show).  Ask her about her business.  Find out what she looks for in a business she recommends to her clients.  Find someone who does pharmacuetical sales at happy hour.  Ask him about his process, how he cultivates his client base.  How many hours a week does he spend learning about his products?  Are you seeing how all this knowledge can help you improve your production? Build your audience? Make your business more profitable?  (Don't forget to share the tricks of your trade!  As a theater professional you hold a lot of insight that other fields can benefit from as well.)

Hit up Barnes and Noble (or if you're cheap like me, the public library) and pick up some books on business, marketing, leadership, education policy, global development, whatever strikes your fancy, and take notes!  Think of ways you can apply all of that magical information to run a more efficient theater, to better choose a show to produce, or to build a stronger audience base.

The current economic situation has forced industries to look outside of their tried and true methods for solutions.  Industry leaders are looking for innovators, and by learning about somebody else's business, you automatically bring an alternative perspective.  Combine all those vantage points with your brilliant mind and you get INNOVATION! So go be a leader in your field, learn something different!