It’s Not What You Know

It’s Not What You Know

Greetings and Happy New Year! Tobias, here, writing from Silicon Valley, where I continue to learn more and more about new ways of doing business. I’m almost finished with the new book, currently entitled Money is the Best Applause: A Wizard’s Guide to Business and Marketing for the Independent Performer. If you have suggestions for a better title, please drop me a line.

In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy reading a selection from the book. This part is all about building relationships. Building great relationships is one of the keys to having a business that thrives, instead of one that is always struggling. Here’s the excerpt:

It’s who you know
The famous comedy pianist Victor Borge once pulled one of my clients over during a week on a cruise ship.  “You’re very talented, son. I want to give you a piece of advice about this business.  I’ve been in show business for over 70 years, and this is the most important thing I’ve learned.  Always remember – it’s not what you know.  It’s who you know.  Now…go be successful.”

Who knows you?
Good advice, as far as it goes. Jeffrey Gitomer, the famous writer on salesmanship and marketing (if you don’t have his books, get them, or just look him up online and sign up for his weekly newsletter), in his Little Black Book of Connections, takes the statement one crucial step further:  “It’s not who you know. It’s who knows YOU!”

Although it does do you some good to know lots of people – to know who they are and how to reach them – it’s infinitely more productive to have lots of people know you and think well of you. The more true friends you have, the richer your life will be, both financially and in human terms. This chapter teaches you to build and nurture relationships.

What have you done for them lately?
It’s one thing to have acquaintances. But you want acquaintances who want to do things for you. By and large, those are people for who you’ve done something – and within recent memory. Our subconscious minds function on the principal of reciprocity – the idea that if you do a favor for me, I owe you one in return.  My subconscious isn’t particularly happy until I’ve returned that favor. More on this later.

6 degrees
Have you ever had a friend tell you about one of their friends, in glowing terms?  Maybe they just want you to know about their friend…they’re claiming bragging rights.  Perhaps they want to ask a favor for their friend – would you put in a good word with your boss when their friend comes in for an interview? This is the power of expanding a network through degrees of separation. You don’t know their friend, but you do know and like them, so you’re willing to do something for their friend. There’s a theory that none of us are more than 6 connections away from anyone. Want to reach the CEO of YouTube?  You know someone who knows someone who knows someone…who knows her.  Maybe you can use that connection to get an introduction.

The more good direct connections you have, the more people you can find using shorter routes to the people you want to connect with.

Who do you need to know?
So – who are the people you need to know and to have know you? Let’s have a look.

Your Team Members

You certainly need full contact information for your team members. You need to be able to reach them by phone, e-mail, and probably their snail mail addresses in order to send them documents, payments, etc. You may also need to visit some of your team regularly.

It’s a good idea to also track down and get information from potential future team members. Do you want to get the William Morris Agency on your team? Start by finding out how to contact them!

Potential Clients

Potential clients will most likely make up the bulk of your contact list info. You’ll want to know how to reach them, how to track what they’re doing, and as much information as you can about each of them.

Direct Clients
Direct clients are those who hire you directly. The Mom hiring you for a birthday party is a direct client.  They’re terrific, and since they’re the ones you ultimately must satisfy, they’re very important to you.  However, if you have to interface directly with every potential direct client yourself, you’ll waste a lot more of your time marketing and trying to get booked than if you use Arms’ Length clients.

Arm’s Length Clients

An “arm’s length” client is an event producer, agent, or someone else who will book your show to lots of other clients. I highly recommend using them, and cultivating great relationships with as many of them as you can. They will do the lion’s share of your marketing work for you. Sure, they’ll take their cut – but if they take 25% and double your overall take, who cares? They’re worth it.

It’s much easier to handle a close relationship with 10 event planners than with 500 direct clients, believe me!  What’s more, these are professionals trained over hundreds of events each year. Where most direct clients might throw 3 or 4 events a year, the event planner has the experience of hundreds.  Which one do you think will know the business of putting on the best event, and will know how to deal with you in a more professional manner?  Which one do you think is more likely to hire you a second or third time if they have a good experience with you?

Past Clients

Past clients are likely to be your best source of future work.  You want to collect as much information about them as possible.  If you’ve been hired by a company, who within that company was responsible?  How do you reach them?  What are the names of their support team (secretary, receptionist, assistant, partner…)?  Do they have families?  What are their names?


You want to be able to send information to local journalists who might provide you with publicity.  This could be in the form of their newspaper columns, mentions on radio or TV news, interviews, blog mentions…whatever.  Seek them out, figure out how you can reach them, and start making friends! Keep all of your media contacts in a list that you can use again and again when you send out press releases.

Fans can be a big part of your team.  Someone who has loved one of your shows in the past will recommend you to their companies, bosses, spouses…in short, to others who can hire you. Nurturing a “fan” base can pay off in a big way.  A few years ago, Criss Angel opened his show at the Luxor in Las Vegas to almost universally bad reviews. However – the show had advance sales of over $5 million, made up mostly of Criss’s fans from his TV show! The show survived and thrived, and that gave Criss the chance to build the excellent show he now performs. Whether you’re working birthday parties, corporate events, or selling tickets for your shows in theatres, your fans will form the biggest basis of support for your work.

Create a newsletter, create social media pages and other ways where they can talk about you. Respond to their posts whenever you can. Your relationship with your fans is probably the greatest asset your business can have. Nurture them!

That’s it. I’m hoping the book will be finished by the end of March, and available for sale sometime in April. I will keep you posted here with regard to its progress.

And, speaking of progress, we have quite a bit of that to report!

From all reports, our team had a great time and won rave reviews all around for their performances two weeks ago at The Magic Castle. A special highlight of the week was a program Eugene Burger: A Celebration of Life on Wednesday afternoon  –  it turns out the rest of the magic community loved him just as much as we did!

Since returning to Las Vegas, Jeff and Abbi hosted our first ever “Magic for Beginners” session, which was a great success. On the final day of the class, students were joined by one of our first official corporate tours of the Magic & Mystery School. The executives were treated to stage and parlor performances, and a tour of the great room, library, movement studio and backyard stage  –  and they all even learned some simple magic tricks they can use in future presentations and social situations.

All that is in the past, though. Let’s look forward!

The Master Class in Deal (in the U.K.) is nearly sold out. If you were thinking of attending, now is the time to register!

There will, of course, be additional events while Jeff and Larry are in the U.K. as well… including a show at the Astor Theater in Deal with special guests (, an event honoring Eugene Burger at The Magic Circle, conventions in Ireland and Scotland… and more!

Something special, recently added

Immediately after the tour in the U.K., Jeff will be going on for a special 3-day event in Belgium, hosted by our friend Alexis Brouard. Three days of classes, and it’s already half-filled only a couple of weeks after we opened registrations. Jeff will be teaching lots of new material at this workshop, so even if you’ve attended one of his classes before, this is not to be missed! Learn more and sign up now:

Special note regarding the class in Belgium: There was an early-bird discount, which ended on January 30. However, just for the readers of this Museletter – send an email to before Feb 15 and you’ll get a chance to get that early-bird discount. Be sure and mention that you read about it here. I suggest you do it now!

So… that’s at least some of our news from the Magic & Mystery School. We’ll have lots more for you mid-month, but I think this particularly Museletter is already long enough! We’ll see you again in two weeks.
Best wishes.


Tobias Beckwith

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