I guess this time of the year everyone starts getting excited about Conventions. Be they – Magic, Clowning, Juggling, StoryTelling, Circus, whatever.
I just spent the morning booking tickets to our big Magic Convention here in Melbourne. Spent some time on the web hustling up a discount Hotel rate and booking plane tickets. A few weeks after that, Lynda and I head of to Lisbon for the FISM Convention. Now that’s going to be an exciting but expensive trip. (I look forward to seeing some of you there? Drop me a note if you are going).
So, we all invest a whole lot of money in travel, registration and hotel costs. We also lose money as we are not able to work that weekend, week or whatever.
Then of course there are the temptations of the Dealers room, with the new gadgets, and gizmos. Perhaps there’s an auction as well to grab some more.
So is this investment in time and money worth it?
I obviously think so and I think there are a few strategies that can really make them work for you.
I suggest you attend any convention with a sense of purpose.
Seeing your friends and buddies is great, but we also want to advance our careers.
Sit down before you go and think about what you would like to get out of your investment in time and money there. Write down your objectives.
Is there a particular problem, a move or a juggling pattern that you would like help on?
Is there a part or phase of your act that you particularly need help with?
(I attended one convention where I closely watched the part of peoples routines after the opening piece. You know, that moment where you lighten up a little and let people get to know you. I saw all sorts of different approaches to it. Some people do it very deliberately, some are unaware that they do it at all.)
Are you looking for specific ideas for a particular situation or audience type?
Are you looking for help on costuming or lighting or script writing?.
Is there someone you particularly want to meet? And if you do, what will you ask them? Be ready to show your level of interest. I think it was Larry Jennings who said he would always be happy to answer questions, but he wanted to know who he was talking to. He would ask the person with the question to show him a trick. Their choice of routine and execution of it would reveal a lot. He could then share what he thought was appropriate to a person of that level.
This is a simple one, but jot down any books you would like to buy.
(I’m missing one volume from the Tarbell set. I know I could buy a new one easily, but I’d rather get an older one from an auction to match the others. But in the excitement of auction time, I can never remember which one I need.)
If you are focused on what you want to get out of your time at a convention, then it is much more likely to happen.
I also like to keep a To Do list. You should leave a convention with your head full of ideas. Jot them down as you go. Things to work on, people to write to etc.
But don’t just sit there and copy peoples jokes, gags and bits of business. I’m not going to go into the ethics bit here, it’s not the place. Just don’t do it.
One last tip….participate.
If at all possible, do something. Enter a competition or offer to help with the events. . There is no quicker way to get to meet people and get their respect. Especially if you don’t know many people. Ask to help on the registration desk, or stage manage a show. (The first convention I went to, I didn’t know anyone there. And being the outgoing personality that I am, by the last day I still didn’t know anyone. But entering a competition that last morning changed everything. I didn’t win or anything near it, but suddenly everyone knew who I was, what my interests were etc. I had shared a little of myself. People were coming up and commenting, I was suddenly part of the community.)
I’m not a big fan of magic competitions as such, but this one factor, above all the prizes and perceived fame and adulation they promise, is worth their continued existence.
So if you are planning to attend a convention in the near future – go with a plan.
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