What the heck is Mark writing about when he starts his column with a Latin phrase, “pro bono”? The Latin words mean “for free”, and that’s what we are going to tackle today, how to use this as a strategy for getting paid jobs.
When I moved to Florida I had absolutely no contacts, nobody knew me as a performer and I wanted to get “well known” in a hurry. I began using the “pro bono” strategy to get things moving, to get myself out there and performing. People often have trouble buying something they haven’s seen for themselves. You can send out all the marketing materials in the world but unless someone has seen you work, often all of this falls on deaf ears. So I began working the “pro bono” angle.
I went to the internet to find what clubs and organizations were meeting on a regular basis and I knew that the Rotary Clubs did exactly that. I contacted the club through a contact email that was available and set myself up as a speaker for a luncheon Rotary Club. I did a special show that I prepared for such events and got another Rotary Club interested in having me, plus I picked up a paid kidshow event in the process. I will now do this next Rotary and probably pick up another event or two. The Rotary Club usually has all the main company owners as members and they have the power to book you. These are prime examples of using the “pro bono” approach.
Be aware though, as you can only use “pro bono” to a point! Sometimes people will try to take advantage of the fact that you are “free”. Question the would-be client carefully to be sure that they are not paying everyone else and you are the only “free” act to perform. Set limits on how many of these things you will do for free and then stick with it. You do not want to foster the reputation that you work for nothing. Remember, this is a starting tool, a strategy to get you going, not make it a lifetime of free engagements!