How do you build professional connections when you can’t stand being around people? How do you network effectively when social situations make you feel like a fish in a frying pan? A panel on doing exactly that was held at the PAX East gaming convention back in April. The hour-long talk was mostly aimed at people working in and around the gaming industry, but also featured some sage advice from professional magician and face of Penguin Magic, Nick Locapo.

Note: You might also recognize Genii Online editor in Chief, Susan Arendt, at the podium. I feel I should mention that, with her being my boss and all.

Locapo makes a lot of helpful suggestions throughout the discussion, but really comes into his own at the 25 minute mark, when he starts talking about how he approaches audiences in the wild. Basically, he lies. He often tells people he only has time for a quick trick or two, giving him an excuse to bail if things aren’t going well and making his potential audience less defensive now they know they won’t be wasting hours of their time if the magician they just met turns out to suck.

He chimes in again at the 44 minute mark with some good advice about creating a positive experience first and then following up with the actual networking later on. There’s very few things more annoying than someone pumping you for career advice or promotion thirty seconds after they’ve introduced themselves. Instead, Locapo uses magic and comedy to make himself memorable, then follows up later via email. That might sound a bit manipulative on paper, but a lot of people really struggle with striking a balance between networking and being that guy who looks at everyone in the room like they’re a rung on his personal career ladder. Having a hard and fast rule about how long you wait before following up with a potential contact can help you avoid being that guy.

And you really want to avoid being that guy.    

In the 21st century, magicians (like Simon Pierro and his iPad tricks) are often looking to technology to find new ways to amaze people with their magic. At tech conference/film & music festival SXSW, engineers are looking to magic to improve their own products, as showcased by an upcoming presentation by Laura Mingail entitled “Using Magician’s Tricks to Develop VR AR Content.”

Mingail is the Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development for Secret Location, an Emmy award-winning company building virtual and augmented reality experiences based on movies, video games, and even concerts. She’s also the granddaughter of Henry Gordon, a magician, skeptic, and recipient of the Order of Merlin in 2001. In her upcoming presentation, she will combine her roots in the magic world with her expertise in technological storytelling in a presentation that will reveal, according to the description, “how to use magicians’ tricks when storytelling in VR/AR, based on secret magic notes, and [her] experience in the VR/AR industry.” Magician Scott Wells will also be on hand to perform magic for the presentation, showcasing traditional uses for magic.

Registered SXSW goers will be able to attend the talk on Tuesday, March 13 at 5pm in the JW Marriott Salon 1-2. Registration for SXSW is still open, and you can find out more details here.

Correction: This article incorrectly referred to this event as a “panel”; it is actually a presentation specially crafted by Mingail to show how magic can be incorporated into VR and AR technology. We have updated the piece to reflect the distinction.

At Magi-Fest 2018, Eli Bosnick hosted a discussion called Magic & the Marketplace, which offered an opportunity to listen to five of some of the biggest names in the magic retail biz to talk shop.

The gathered panelists included Vanishing Inc. founders Andi Gladwin and Joshua Jay; Paul Richards, the founder of Elmwood Magic who is currently embarking on a new venture selling tricks that are only available at conventions; Acar Altinsel, co-founder of Penguin Magic; and Christian Schenk, creator of the Phoenix Deck.

First, they talked about “bad magic”. With the proliferation of the internet and online magic shops, how do you filter out the good magic from the bad? For Christian, it’s about giving advice to new performers, recommending specific books or decks to start with. Acar believes that there’s never been a better time to find great tricks, there’s just a lot more out there now, which can mean more crap as well. To him, the trouble is when you’re trying to stay on the cutting edge. Paul agreed with Acar, but also mentioned that because the barrier to entry is lower, anyone can make tricks now, which can be both good and bad. What’s new to him is seeing so many young people just starting out saying they want to make and release a new trick—that never happened ten or 20 years ago. Joshua believes in Sturgeon’s Law: that 90% of everything, including magic tricks, are crap. Really good magic is like finding a gem, and you have to learn how to curate what you find. Andi says that the difficulty of the magic market specifically is that so much of it is tied to its secretive nature. As one of the heads of Vanishing Inc., he sees ten-15 trick submissions a day, and rejects most of them.

Next, Eli asked if the internet was good or bad for magic. Paul sees the internet as neutral, like a tool. It’s an ocean, but magic certainly isn’t. He gave an example: the upcoming Blackpool Magic Convention is the largest gathering of magicians in the world, and attendance caps at around 4,000 people. Meanwhile, San Diego Comic-Con regularly sees over 100,000. It’s important to keep that perspective.

YouTube is also a hot-button issue in the community these days, especially since so many kids use it to learn magic. Josh says it’s just a part of the ecosystem now, which is something magicians will have to live with whether they like it or not. The important thing is that, while kids aren’t getting direct access with magic over the internet, there are live lectures and Skype sessions available that can offer similar hands-on experiences. Kids are also learning about all of the convention opportunities available thanks to the internet, and those who go get a level of access they’d never get on the internet—but without the internet, they would never have known the convention even existed.

Last, Eli asked the panel about what magicians, and retailers and trick creators specifically, can do to make magic more welcoming to women. Paul noted that a lot of tricks assume  the performer has a back pocket, or wallet, or some other piece of clothing that a man would typically wear—it’s important to tailor tricks so anyone can perform them. Andi believes that we should be encouraging and promoting the women who already do magic, making them more invisible to inspire other women to begin practicing. Lastly, Acar believes that male-centric presentation and marketing is taking a back seat—these days retailers are focusing less on using tricks to “get dates” or impress women than about simple surprise or wonder.

Stay tuned to GeniiOnline for more reports from the heart of Magi-Fest 2018.