Network, Network, Network!
I love networking, which is lucky, as that's the main point of the British Council Showcase. Obviously the delegates from around the world come and see your show during their visit and decide if it is for them or not. The work speaks the most. If your show isn't going to be suitable for their audience then they ain't gonna book ya. But it is possible to win over delegates who perhaps can't quite see how the work will fit in, but are open to persuasion. That's when the networking events come in... There are three types of main events; the opening ceremony, the networking breakfasts and the closing party.
The opening ceremony is fabulous. It makes you feel really special and it is the moment when you get to see everyone's faces, so you know over the coming week that these people are either fellow performers, producers or international delegates. Clock them, remember them, and if you don't get the chance to speak to them at one of the networking events then you might bump into them at another show. I won the pot of cash at Money by Kaleider in 2015 by buying into the table in the last half hour and suggesting the money goes to Touretteshero (because they wanted to give the money to a good cause, a performer and to something that was fun. Touretteshero 'ticced' all these boxes) and at the show (because it was also in the showcase) were delegates from South Korea. They then grabbed me at the next breakfast to say hello and to congratulate me on the win.
The breakfasts are great. The British Council put on a proper good spread and everyone's there downing coffee and chatting shop. Don't stress out. Eat your fill, don't worry about having to look like you're talking to someone the whole time. It's early, so get your sugar and caffeine levels up first of all and then worry about networking. If you see a friendly face latch onto them and go prepared with some interesting tales to tell and decent questions that will ensure the person you've latched onto has to talk to you for a little while at least. It's a good idea to know at least a bit about each show on the showcase so that you know who people are if you find yourself speaking to a fellow performer. Have your packs to hand - this is your information sheet, a flyer, your business card and any other bits you can afford to add in, all within a plastic wallet. Some people get badges made or stickers. If you can afford it then do it. If you can't then don't worry, the most important thing is the show.
Top tip with business cards... Make sure there's room in the design to be able to write stuff on them. If there's a recognisable thing about you (I've got leopard print hair for example) then write this onto your cards before putting them into the packs. It's personable and means they won't forget who you are. Make sure when you're get a card given to you, as soon as the person who gave it to you leaves, write on the card what you talked about and where, so you're not left with a load of meaningless cards at the end of the fringe. This was the best networking tip anyone ever gave me and means business cards remain useful years after they were given to you.
The last event is the end of Showcase party. Everyone wants to go to this and it's a proper party. Obviously don't do anything stupid, but do have fun. We got a few extra bookings from being the most fun people at the party in 2015. Think about it, if you run a venue then not only are you looking for great shows, but you also collect great people. If you liked a team and thought it would be fun to hang out with them then you're likely to programme them at your venue, invite them over to your country and hang out with them. Do be yourself, have fun - don't get pissed and try and pull - but do get pissed, dance and be fabulous.