That time when all the networking advice I give got truly tested

 

I’ve spent quite a lot of the last month nauseous with nerves. What time I haven’t been nauseous, I’ve been feeling deeply moved.Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.23.05 AM

I have a book coming out tomorrow. I know! It’s very exciting. Sort of. What I mean is, it is very exciting – I’ve been working on it for four years, it’s being published by Bloomsbury who also publish Harry Potter, and mostly, it’s MY NAME ON AN ACTUAL BOOK.
But… it’s also involved me having to do something that makes me deeply anxious: putting on an event for the launch.

The book is called Off The Mic: The World’s Best Stand Up Comedians Get Serious About Comedy. Deborah Frances-White and I interviewed hundreds of stand ups about what it means to be a stand up (what’s your writing process? How do you deal with hecklers?), and then compiled 42 of those interviews (including ones with – North Americans, stay with me for a moment – Eddie Izzard, Stewart Lee, Sarah Millican and Marc Maron) into the book.

I really think it’s brilliant – I can say this, because I just did the interviews and the compiling (and didn’t write any of it). As a HUGE NERD about stand up, I would buy this book. And because of that, it was really important to me that people knew about it. Which meant putting in some scary leg-work.

This show of Deborah Frances White's - Friend of a Friend of Dorothy - is one of the best Fringe shows I've ever seenThe book is out tomorrow – right at the tail end of the Edinburgh Fringe, a huge, three-week-long arts festival that includes the biggest comedy festival in the world. Perfect timing. Because we’re being published by Bloomsbury’s academic department, things like a launch party were left up to us to organise. My co-author Deborah, hard working genius that she is, is doing FOUR SHOWS A DAY during the Fringe.

I told her I’d sort everything out.

And so, the nausea began.

We had a producer helping us with the technical logistics of the show. Deborah managed to get three of the comics (Alex Edelman, Jo Caulfield and Sofie Hagen) from the book to agree to do the show (the plan being that we two would interview them on stage).

Now we had to drum up an audience. Oh, crap.

If you haven’t been to the Fringe, you may not know that there are 3,314 shows on this year – most of them showing every day. So getting people along to your one-off show is no picnic.

I knew what I had to do. It was time to call in favours.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that one of the pillars of my style of non-schmoozy networking that’s actually FUN, is that it’s all about long term relationships, not one night stands. This means you don’t steam in, telling someone how AMAZING they are, then ask for stuff in response. You gently build industry friendships over time, then ask for help when you need it.
Here was the real test. It’s been fourteen years since I lived in Edinburgh. Almost five since I lived in the UK. But I put out the feelers, and here’s what I got:

Herald Piece

  • One of the things I was finding most stressful was having to contact the press – get the book to them, tell them about the show. I got in touch with an industry friend who is a comedian PR – so already has relationships with all these people. Because I’d done her favours in the past – and because we’re industry friends – she offered to take this show on right at the last minute and for a real favour price.We got national press coverage within a couple of days 
  • My friend Richie – to whom I’d given his first break in radio – now runs a WILDLY successful radio production company, gave me a TON of advice and let me raid his contact book.
  • An old old old friend from my student radio days came and recorded the entire thing, to put it out on the Pleasance Podcast

  • Another friend I did student radio with almost twenty years ago now runs Three Weeks, one of the biggest and most widely read reviews newspaper in the Edinburgh Fringe. As well as giving me a TON of advice and suggestions for the show, he also got me on their website and – in spite of getting the information pretty much as they were going to press – gave us a full page spread on THE FIRST PAGE of the newspaper.Three Weeks article
  • After a (somewhat panicky) appeal on Facebook, friends from Edinburgh that I hadn’t spoken to for over a decade shared the Facebook event for our launch far and wide.

  • And, most importantly for my terrified ego: About a third of the audience was made up of people I knew and had invited. Many of whom hadn’t heard from me in YEARS. They came, they laughed in all the right places, and they clapped furiously at the end.

 

Sofie Hagan is saying something VERY FUNNY

People like to help.

As I’ve said before, I truly believe that all anybody wants in life is (1) to feel truly seen and heard and understood (and that’s what to be loved it), and (2) to feel like they’ve been of service – that they’ve left the world better off than they found it, and therefore justified their existence on the earth.

So here are my requests to you:

(1) Start building business friendships.
Keep in touch with people you like in your industry, who you’ve met or encountered online. Add value to them with no expectation for anything in return (because you never know when you might need to call in that favour).

(2) Ask people for help.
If you do it in a respectful way (like this example HERE), then people like to help. It makes them feel like they’ve contributed to the world.

Thanks so much for reading. If you know anyone that you think might be interested in this – either because they also heart stand up, or because THEY need to start asking for help – it would be lovely if you could share it with them, using one of the round buttons below.

You RULE!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS if you want to find out more about the book – or buy it! – you can, here:
http://bloomsbury.com/uk/off-the-mic-9781472526380

 

6 Comments

  • Catarina

    Reply Reply August 26, 2015

    Love it Marsha. The thought of having to launch my book makes me want to vomit a bit and is almost enough to make me want to quit writing it… Looking forward to our session.

  • Mia

    Reply Reply August 26, 2015

    Marsha, I just popped on your blog to offer a BIG congratulations on your new book – WOW! That’s AMAZING!! (Since I’m guessing you can’t hear me clap from St. Clair and Ossington, I am using uppercase to get the cheering effect across:-). Love the idea, fantastic line-up (Eddie Izzard is totally nuts – I love him!). You must have had a blast doing the interviews….but I totally get the terror that brings on nauseousness before opening night. It sounds like you have everything under control but…Two Tips: Drink ginger tea (if you like it) and don’t forget to keep following your own advice! It’s the best out there for getting over or through the whole social thingy. As for being friends with clients – I ab-so-lute-lee agree. You feel better about your relationships and It just makes everything so much nicer, all around. My last two clients wrote wonderful testimonials that speaks to this; one included a comment that my support felt like a friend was helping her. Another texted me after one of our phone chats to say it felt as if she were just conversing with a long-time friend. What this told me is that most people are starving for “real” interactions within the business setting. But I digress; here I am bragging about myself when it’s your time to shine. So SHINE ON YOU CRAZY-FUNNY AMAZING DIAMOND MARSHA. And once again, thanks as always for all your terrific e-mail treats. They’re among the few I actually read all the way through. xox (not the game XOX, but between two “french” kisses (on the cheek, that is!), lies a hug of support and congratulations, with much warmth, Mia (p.s. by the by, I know you will knock their knickers off at the festival:-)

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply September 1, 2015

      MIA! What a LOVELY comment, thanks so much! Also, please can we all start saying, “Knock their knickers off”?

      Well done on those awesome testimonials!

  • Laura

    Reply Reply August 26, 2015

    Hey Marsha!

    Glad it all went well for you. I wish I could have been there! (I was in Edinburgh but missed you by one day!)

    Laura x

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