The Ultimate Guide To Networking For Actors | Part 3
In part 3 of The Ultimate Guide To Networking For Actors we are going to walk through three of the highest quality gatherings that you could ever find yourself attending, rich in potentially career defining contacts ripe for the picking. We are going to learn how to really apply those tactics we learned before and some do’s and don’t’s for each.
In Part 1 of this guide we explored the reasons why everything you think you know about networking is wrong and began to shift your mindset towards the mindset of a master connector. We then discovered the importance of setting networking goals and how we could make our goals S.M.A.R.T to increase our likelihood of seeing them through.
In Part 2 of this guide we discovered the actual skills you need to meet and connect with any Casting Director, Agent or anyone you like.
Don’t forget to Download the free PDF Action Plan with worksheets to fill out, a resource to show you 5 Free Tools To Network Like A Master and a 30 Day Networking Challenge to take all this theory off the page and into the real world.
Part 3 – Go
The Press Party is the holy grail of opportunities to connect with influencers in the industry. It is the party held after the official opening or Press Night of pretty much every show. In the film industry this would be the Premier after party. In theatre this is the first moment after previews that the creative team get a chance to let their hair down and celebrate their hard work. It’s the night where many well known actors, directors and other creatives along with members of the press and critics will be invited as guests of the performance and in turn the gathering afterwards.
This is an environment naturally rich in opportunities to connect and if you find yourself attending on your own, or invited to someone else’s press night party then there are some things to be aware of;
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can meet everyone there and spend enough time with each ‘important’ person to make a lasting connection with each of them. You will come across as if you always have something better to do and someone more important to meet. Instead realise that 3 or 4 honest connections with people you have enough time to invest in is better than 20 shallow exchanges that don’t go anywhere or result in making a new acquaintance.
Don’t make the mistake of only attempting to connect with ‘important’ people. Everybody is important and you never know how any of your potential new acquaintances could be connected to someone else there. A genuine conversation and connection with Spielberg’s’ PA’s husband is a far better and more powerful connection to have than exchanging 2 forgettable sentences with Spielberg himself.
Don’t be afraid to excuse yourself from a conversation that seems to be going nowhere. Hopefully you will meet interesting people who are inviting and warm but if you find yourself talking with someone laborious or indeed someone who is being a bit cold and uninviting then a good tactic to avoid the awkward silence and get yourself out of there is to interrupt yourself, rather than them, for example
“Wow I never knew the colour of fishing reels had such an impact on the size of your catch. It’s been great talking to you, I’m going to go grab a drink would you like one?”
Most people will say no to this question especially if you time it so that they already have a drink in their hand. If not be sure that you bump into someone else on your way to the bar.
Do make a list of the top 3-5 people you would like to meet that you know are going to be there and spend a bit of time researching them like we covered before. Prepare your one page brief on them and have a good look over that before attending. This will help you refresh your mind on some potential points you found that you could connect with them on if you do get the opportunity to meet them. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you are in conversation with to introduce you to one of these people if they mention that they know or are friends with them. An introduction from somebody already even loosely associated with someone is a really strong opening gambit to a new meeting.
Do bring somebody with you if you can or if not buddy up with someone there, either the person who invited you or someone else that you know. If you bring a friend then you can use that opportunity to introduce each other around to people that you want to meet. Press Parties can be daunting for a lot of people and if you have a friend with you, you will both appreciate the company and make it easier to engage with new people.
There are a lot of mixed feelings about casting workshops in the industry. Many people view them as a way that some casting directors spin money out of their time. My personal feelings are that they are a unique enough opportunity to meet a potential connection in a very open environment that it is often worth paying the money that they charge. For this to be worthwhile though you have to be very clear about what you expect to get out of the workshop and what you are paying for.
Don’t make the mistake of taking any one casting directors opinion as gospel or even as representative of any others opinion out there. Whatever feedback they give you is purely their own taste and there are as many opinions and ways of doing things as there are stars on the walk of fame. A lot of advice can apply across the board but be wary of people presenting opinion as fact.
Do come prepared with any and all of your material that is appropriate for the workshop, if you are participating be very clear with yourself about what you want feedback on and how you are going to take action after receiving that feedback.
Don’t make the very silly mistake of thinking that getting in a room with a casting director is an audition for anything they are casting at the moment or in the future. It is against the terms of the Casting Directors Guild for them to charge money for a casting so you should never ever have to pay for an audition, however…
Do remember that you are actually paying to stand in front of them and present yourself and your material. This is a guarantee that they will physically see you, which is a far more effective way to meet them than submitting yourself for one of their auditions and never hearing anything back.
Your number one goal should be to meet them, make a connection and begin building a relationship. So come prepared with insightful questions about their process and be well prepared with material that they request. Then, afterwards, don’t be like one of the 99% of others who attend these workshops and nothing ever comes from it; stay in touch with them and continue to build your relationship with them using the tactics in the rest of this guide so that when something does come across their desk that would be right for you they remember you and call you in for it.
Conventions like Surviving Actors & Actor Expo can be great places to meet new people and make new friends but you have to be very disciplined with yourself if you are attending one of these conventions not to let yourself get sucked into the machine and spat out the other side. These events often have a networking room or some sort of icebreaker type area but unfortunately these are usually terrible places to do any real connecting because the other attendants are usually there to take what they can from the event to better themselves not give what they can to better the others. It is not those attending you want to be concentrating on connecting with but in fact the participants and the hosts are your best shot. Speakers at seminars, companies representing themselves with booths and the hosts of the event themselves, these are your targets.
Do contact the event organiser in advance of the event. Generally these are planned months in advance and if you connect with the organiser in advance it gives you the opportunity to offer your help, suggest some potential speakers you are connected with that they might like to speak or even better offer to speak yourself for free on a topic that you are confident with. This is where having a hobby that relates to the industry can come in really handy. If you’re also a yoga instructor offer to speak for free on the importance of holistic health or even offer a free class on the beginners yoga for actors.
Do book in to attend the seminars of the speakers you would most like to meet. This gives you a topic of conversation when you reach out to them and may give you the opportunity to bump into them but don’t wait until after they have spoken to try and connect with them. Do your research before hand and try to find them before they have spoken, otherwise they will take on a sort of celebrity status at the rest of the conference and everyone will be trying to meet them and get what they can. You will likely not get a chance. Generally there will be a speaker’s room or private area where the speakers hang out while they wait for their slot and you can often find them coming in our out of this area before everything has started or throughout the day before they speak.
Now that you know what networking is really all about and you have the skills to identify and connect with the people that matter download your Free Networking Action Plan PDF Here and start on your journey as a Master Networker towards success.
The 30 Day Networking Challenge
Now that you have begun to retrain your mind to the mindset of a master connector, clarified your networking goals and begun to stalk your influencers; online using the 5 free tools discribed in the Action Plan and offline through the three types of events we discovered today…
Do you think you’re ready to put that to the test…
I challenge you to join me in taking The 30 Day Networking Challenge and radically improve your networking success in the next 30 days. This challenge consists of 30 days of tasks of varying degrees of difficulty, some online, some offline, some you can do on your own, some to include friends. Here’s how to get involved:
1) Download your FREE Networking Action Plan which details all the tasks and challenges you have to complete.
2) Join the exclusive 30 Day Networking Challenge Facebook Group where I will be taking this challenge along with you, sharing evidence of our completed tasks and giving each other inspiration and motivation to continue.
See you on the inside…