How to Make Positive Lasting Impressions


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Take a quick break from your taxes, and let's talk trade secrets for a moment, shall we? You know the old saying "first impressions are lasting impressions?"  Well, I beg to differ.  While that can be true in some instances, the impressions that linger longest are the ones left after an interaction with someone has ended.

Just think about it.  Do you have a friend who you may have actually disliked in the beginning?  I do.  One of my closest girlfriends didn't leave me with the greatest first impression when we met.  In fact, we didn't like one another at all initially.  But once we were able to break the ice and let our guards down, we became the best of friends.  I was even the maid of honor in her wedding a few years ago.  Talk about a lasting impression, huh?

And when it comes to building your career, the impressions you make are even more important.  Developing relationships and leaving positive lasting impressions are essential to getting and sustaining work as a freelance artist.

So how do you even begin developing these relationships?  There are a number of ways to network in any given field.  We'll actually discuss some of the ways dancers network in an upcoming post.

What I'd like to focus on this week, is how to leave a project and have those who hired you always coming back for more.

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I've been blessed to work on a diverse range of projects throughout my career, many of which were repeat business.  This means that I was introduced to a contact or project through a mutual friend, audition, or blind submission, was hired for the job once, and then called back several times after for additional work.

As a matter of fact, just this past week, I received a call from a contact I haven't spoken to in over four years with an invitation to work a few projects in the near future!  So after I did my happy dance (which is a combo of 90's New Jack Swing dances, by the way), I thought about some reasons why I've been fortunate enough to experience situations like this one time and time again.

In addition to acknowledging these opportunities as blessings from God, I can also credit them to a few qualities I bring to the table, qualities that you can apply to your projects too.

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One of the things I bring to the table is my professionalism and work ethic.  I make it a point to arrive to projects on time (actually a few minutes early), I review material on my own beforehand so that rehearsals can run smoothly, and I communicate any scheduling issues or conflicts in a timely manner. I also bring my "A" game to each project by planning and executing the best quality performance or choreography that my artistry can muster.

Another quality that keeps me working is my character.  I try to maintain a positive attitude throughout each project, and I'm very gracious to the other artists or staff who may be working the project as well.  I also make it a point to express my gratitude for having been given the opportunity to work on the project in the first place.  This can be via a verbal thanks or through a thank you card, which is a great gesture that goes a long way.

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All in all, just be the type of artist you'd like to work with or hire.  This may not mean much to some people, but it's extremely important to others.  Most choreographers or directors, myself included, would rather hire a dancer who is talented, professional, and easy to work with over a diva who causes trouble.

I'm always presented with the opportunity to either refer dancers to projects I'm unavailable for or to hire dancers for projects I'm working directly.  And do you know who I call first?  I call the dancer who shows up on time knowing all the material. The dancer who communicates effectively and has a positive attitude.  The dancer who I can trust to not sever the working relationships I've worked so hard to build in the first place.

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So if I were you, I'd start developing these qualities right away with whatever projects you're currently working, even if you're only training at the moment.  Start arriving to class early, rehearse skills and choreography on your own before class, stay engaged and positive in class even offering help to others when appropriate (which shows leadership), and be sure to thank the instructor after class as well.  

Start developing these qualities into habits, and you'll have plenty to show for it down the line.  Trust.

As always, I'd love to hear from you if this information is helping you along your journey.  Or if you’re tackling an issue I haven’t discussed yet, I want to know that too.

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