Professional Ambitions: Shameless Self Promotion

Let’s talk about shameless self promotion, shall we?

A blog post about self promotion (photo of Sophia Ravenna by Reckless Photography).

It’s time for another edition of Professional Ambitions, and this time around we’re talking about the all-important professional skill of self promotion. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that you’ll never get anywhere as a dancer if you don’t learn to talk about yourself.

Self Promotion: A Necessary Evil

When you first start out it can be really difficult to talk about yourself. I think a lot of us, especially if we grew up female, were taught not to “toot our own horns” so to speak. We were expected to be modest. Quiet. Possibly even a little self-depreciating.

It’s also difficult to promote yourself when you are a newer, less-experienced dancer and you know there are others in your community with better skills and more experience.

Despite this, it’s important to learn to talk about yourself, and what you’re up to. If you want to be hired for gigs, attract students to your classes, or get on the workshop circuit, you need people to know you’re out there and what you have to offer.

Start Early

Ideally, you should start learning the art of self-promotion right when you start performing. Let people know about your first student recitals. Maybe don’t push people too hard to attend unless they’re really close to you (save the high-pressure for once you’re performing at a higher level), but get used to sharing events on Facebook and mentioning it off-handedly in conversation.

Any time you’re performing publicly, you should be sharing a link to the event. And if you’re performing privately, you should make posts about it as well, just to raise awareness of your status as a professional dancer. A simple “On my way to dance at a bride’s henna night!” or “Just got done helping a spry 97 year old celebrate her birthday” will do.

Don’t Overdo It

The key is to not get so caught up in self-promotion that you annoy everyone around you. Make sure promotional posts don’t completely dominate your social media feeds, and that you aren’t advertising in places that are inappropriate.

My general rule is to mention an event no more than once a week when it’s a ways out, and then as it gets close, once a day (usually for the week of the event). I might even mention it twice on the day of, once early in the day and then a second time right before I head out the door.

Why It Matters

Whether you like it or not, a lot of dance opportunities come down to how well you promote yourself and the events that you’re involved in. Event organizers look for performers that have a good social media following and who do a good job of getting the word out.

Speaking from my own past experience as an event organizer, it would frustrate me to see dancers who wanted to be part of our event every month, and yet I never saw them post about it on Facebook. Some of them would bring friends or coworkers, but others would just show up and dance without having brought a single person to be part of the audience!

Some events will even have self promotion requirements. You’ll be expected to share the FB event page X number of times across Y networks in the days leading up to the event. Those who fail to meet this requirement may have their pay docked and/or not be invited to participate in future events! I’ve even seen promotion requirements for unpaid events.

I have several opportunities I’m working on right now that came about directly because I have a good online presence and I network with people on social media and in person. Remember, belly dance is a form of show business and sometimes it all comes down to who you know!

Speaking of Which…

If you’ll permit me to indulge in a bit of shameless self promotion, I have something to tell you about! I will be part of the first-ever Belly Dance Business Academy Teaching Summit. This five day online event will feature classes from many of today’s top belly dance thought leaders, discussing various aspects of dance business. There are classes for both professional performers and for teachers. I’m pleased to be offering a class about social media and one about community building.

The entire event will be available for FREE, with each class expiring after 48 hours. Or you can register for the early bird rate of $39.99 and get unlimited access to all of the classes and some bonus materials as well.

It’s such an honor to be a part of this event alongside some dancers and teachers who I really admire. And I know it never would have happened if I didn’t spend so much time on self promotion. So go out there and write your blog posts and share your FB events and network with your fellow dancers. I promise it pays off!

FTC Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

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