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Networking Through Associations Is A Necessity
I’ll be honest, my first few years of performing comedy full time was like an extended vacation. I had very few responsibilities. I got to travel and spend extended time sleeping in and chilling out by the pool. I was twenty-three and ecstatic that I wasn’t trapped in a cubicle and working for “The Man”.
The trade off?
I was “The Man” and I wasn’t working for me, either.
Sure, I was diligent in booking dates and lining up guest spots. I just wasn’t thinking long term. Not longer than a twelve month calendar anyway. But looking back, I was really neglecting personal development and improving my communication skills.
You may have heard me mention before that I deal with dyslexia and spent my early childhood years overcoming speech problems. Factor in on top of that I was born with a Kentucky accent and you can see there was room for improvement.
But there I was by the pool doing the USA TODAY crossword puzzle using all those odd facts I retained from my education.
It took me several years to start finding groups and associations that would help me take my act and business approach to another level. For me, the two that I have grown to love and embrace are the National Speaker’s Association and the Christian Comedy Association.
The National Speaker’s Association holds an annual convention that attracts over 1200 speakers, coaches and even, yes, comedians. Admittedly, we comedians are a pretty small percentage of that group. But the shared experience of speaking on a platform unites all of us.
The NSA has a lot of really competitive and successful members. They share a tremendous amount of knowledge, resources and insight with each other. Why? The group knows that all of the speakers are basically going after the same pie. So they want to GROW THE PIE! If all of the members take a more professional approach then the amount of opportunities will grow for all of us. It’s refreshing to put down the competitive edge long enough to help one another.
The Christian Comedy Association meets annually and the conference is much more intimate. Typically 70-120 will attend the two-day event (but I expect that number to grow exponentially in the upcoming years). The focus is both spiritual and comedic. While the CCA conveys the importance of being a true Christian both on and off the stage, we also provide comedy workshops to assist the up and coming or aspiring comedian. Similar to the NSA, we want all of the members to aspire to excel and be professional at the same time.
Why have I chosen to INVEST in myself in these groups?
This comedy career is my dream job and it’s become a huge part of my DNA. I want to be the best I can be at the profession in sum total. Not just onstage. The information and strategies I’ve learned in the NSA had truly compounded my bookings and earnings in a very short time of membership (three years). The spiritual camaraderie offered in the CCA is a blessing. And the friends I’ve made in both groups will be lifetime buds.
As you develop onstage, remember to take some time to look for groups you can join to grow your network and enhance your skills. The information and knowledge you acquire will benefit everything you do. Stand-Up comedy and Speaking are very competitive art forms and every edge you give yourself will pay dividends.
I’m not saying you can’t hang out by the pool and work the crossword puzzle. I’m just saying make sure you keep nurturing a gift that is meant to be shared big and wide.
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