Thursday, September 01, 2011

"You Are Not Getting Booked?"

Over the last few days, a new Facebook page has somewhat gotten the internet wrestling community talking.  The point of the page is, essentially, a gallery of pictures that a promoter has been sent by people asking him for work, and him pointing out why he would never book them on a show. 

On its face, that premise seems fair enough.  However, the promoter running the page essentially mocks the people supposedly asking him for work, all while acknowledging he has never responded to any of their inquiries, as they are not worth his time. 

After reading responses to a few of the things he has posted, it is obvious that the guy is doing this page simply to get attention.  He is removing things that other people have posted, and it is becoming obvious that some of the people being mocked have never actually asked him for work.  It is a publicity stunt, fair enough.  It is working, as the page currently has more "likes" (2038) than he has followers on his personal profile (262), or his professional profile (84). 

I thought about ripping into this guy long an hard, but I decided I would take a different approach.  Here is a list of things that any wrestler should do when looking to get work. 

1) Treat finding work as a wrestler just like any other type of work you would try to find.  
Getting any kind of job is about showing what you can do, not telling someone about what you hope to do.  If you are hoping to get work with a company, you should have a resume.  You should have listed on it a number of things:
  • The name you work under
  • Contact info (phone, email, social media, website, etc)
  •  Where you were trained, when, and by whom
  • Where you actually live and would be traveling from
  • Places you have worked, and where you worked on the card there.  
  • References
  • A photo (think of it as your "head shot")
Notice I didn't put "championships won" or "what names you worked" or dumb mark stuff like that.   It is not important.  A booker is going to want to see where you have worked, where on the card you have been used, and what kind of background you have.  Almost every business is built on networking, and wrestling is no different.  If you are soliciting for work, he is going to want to know your background, so that he can perhaps find out info on you from people he knows.  If you put a promotion down on your resume and the booker knows someone that works there, he can call and ask about you.  If he is looking for a main event guy and you have never worked past the prelims, chances are that the booker is not going to want to use you.  However, maybe your references will put a good word in about your work, and when he is looking for a mid-card guy or a fresh preliminary face, he will remember you. 
Where you live is very important.  Wrestlers are willing to do a lot of dumb things, including drive long distances for very little money. Honest bookers will be upfront about that - but honesty is a two way street.  Let them know where you are traveling from.  There are bookers out there that might have an interest in using you, but are not going to pay you enough to cover travel.  You have to be realistic - if someone is running shows twice a month and willing to pay you $20, for how long are you going to be willing to drive eight or ten hours for that booking? Chances are, not very long.  A lot more people are going to take where you live into consideration than you might think.  They are less likely to invest in building you up if you travel far, because it is human nature to get tired of the commute. 

2) Have video to show upon request.  This is how your work is sampled. 
If anyone that has an interest in using you is not already familiar with your work, or doesn't have a reliable reference about your work, they are going to want to see a sample.  In wrestling, the best thing to have is video. 
The video doesn't need to be professionally shot, but it needs to be clear, and it needs to show your strengths.  It doesn't need to show you going over, doing your awesome finish, or working with a superstar name wrestler.  It needs to show what you look like, that you are competent in the ring, that you can work a crowd and get them into the match, and that you have a personality. 
Unless it is requested, you do not need a ton of matches on it, or music videos, highlight reels, or long ridiculous promos.  What each booker is looking for is different.  Some might want DVDs with three singles matches.  Some might want links to youtube.  Some might want data files of only tag matches.  Some just might want photos.  Be prepared.  In this day and age with camera phones and iPads, it should be easy to throw something together. 

3) Do not bug pester anyone for work.  Be persistent, but avoid becoming a nuisance. 
There are a lot of promotions out there, but there are even more wrestlers.  There are way too many examples of both that are horrible beyond belief.  So, if you are trying to get booked somewhere, you need to be persistent and not give up, but you need to do so without becoming a pest. 
When you contact a company looking for work, do not start off with "Hey, how do I get booked with you?", or any other less grammatically correct ways of saying that.  Act professional.
First, look at the contact info you have.  If someone you know gave you a phone number, be polite when making a call, and be smart enough to call at a reasonable hour.  Say things like "sir" and "ma'am", and let them know immediately who put you in contact with them.  If you leave a voicemail or other message, leave all of your contact info, and give them a time frame in which you will call them back (such as a day or two).  If after two or three messages you have not received a return call, stop calling. 
If you have an email address, give a brief statement about who you are, who put you in contact, and attach your resume.  If you do not hear anything back within a few days, follow up with it.  After a couple of times, if you get no response, stop mailing. 
Now, in either case, if you get a response from someone, try your best to follow up with them quickly and completely.  If you are professional, you will may get a response, even if it is just "Sorry, I am not interested in using you".  Follow that up with thanking them for taking the time to respond, and you hope that you will get to work together in the future.   Then, stop contacting them for a few months.  If you are still looking for work a few months later, try sending another message (with an updated resume), and actually reference that you had contacted them before. 
You see, chances are that once you contact a booker for work, your name is going to ring a bell in their mind the next time they hear it.  Maybe they will see your name in results, or someone else will mention you, or whatever.  They might be more willing to give you work after your name becomes familiar.  However, if they get email from you everyday, or are constantly getting voicemail from you, they are going to mentally blacklist you (and tell everyone else you are an asshole). 
Also, research where you are sending out info to.  If a promotion only runs the first Saturday of the month, and you already have a steady gig on the first Saturday, you are just wasting their time.  If the promoter only uses 6ft 5in bodybuilder types, and you are 5ft 6in and 150lbs, they may not have anything for you.  Also, look at the other wrestlers who work there, and the types of places the promotion runs.  Make sure you fit what the promoter might be looking for. 

4) Look like a professional, and act like one too. 
If you have a picture that you send out, make sure it looks professional.  It doesn't need to be professionally shot by a photographer, but it should have a nice looking background, and you should be wearing your ring attire, or something of a professional nature.  What you do not want is a picture you took with your phone or webcam.  You do not want a picture with your girlfriend or buddies cropped out.  You do not want a picture with your toilet in the background. 
No matter what show it is, if you are booked on a show, be prepared to help out with anything that may be needed.  Arrive early.  Do not come to the venue with food (unless you have some for everyone).  Sit in the lockerroom and introduce yourself to everyone.  Dress nicely. 
If you act and look professional, people will treat you, and think of you, professionally.  Walk into a venue, shake hands with everyone, and make it a point to find the promoter and greet them.  Ask them if there is anything that they need your help with.  Find whomever is running the lockerroom, and make sure they know you are there, and ask them if they need anything from you. 
No matter who you are or where you are at on the card, you should not have any issues with helping out in some way.  Most promoters do not have large staffs helping out, so they might need help with the ring, chairs, or even small things like testing the mics. That is why you get there early.  If a promoter says to be there at 5pm, you should be there at 4:30pm.  It doesn't matter how far you drove or how hungry you are - be there early and ready to help. 
These things go a long way.  You are more likely to get a few breaks if you have shown you are willing to help people out. 
Also, do not show up drunk, or on something.

5) Network, Network, Network
Everyone gets in the business somehow.  Your trainer should be the first one you go to about finding work.  If your trainer cannot help you get bookings, then they are probably a bad choice of trainer. 
Most of the time, people get bookings via word of mouth.  If you want more work, it is always good to solicit bookings, but the best way to get bookings is by word of mouth, and by meeting the right people. 
Like I said earlier, if your name is familiar to someone, they are more likely to remember it the next time they see it pop up.  This is why you need to introduce yourself to people, offer to help out, and act professionally. 
When I first broke into the business, I went in with blinders, and I was surrounded by a lot of people who didn't know what they were doing - and I had no clue!  Luckily I networked and met Kingdom James, who took me under his wing and showed me the ropes, helped me find better places to workout at, and when he thought I was ready, helped me find work in Pittsburgh.  A few years later, Kingdom ran some shows in Erie, and he booked me there.  At those shows I ended up working with the late JT Lightning, who liked me enough to book me with his promotion in Cleveland.  Later on when I was helping book in Pittsburgh, I helped get some guys from Cleveland that I met at CAPW get bookings in Pittsburgh.  It is a cycle. 
If you work hard and meet enough people and get your name out there, maybe you will get lucky and be introduced to the right person, and you will be what they are looking for for something big. 

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