Networking for Success
This topic is more aptly named PR for the actor. It is what you must do to find work, get repeat work, and become known in the business as someone good to work with. Everyone always asks, “How do I get myself ‘out there’?” Well, networking is how. Even if some of these techniques sound like a lot of work or too much trouble, you must do them if you are going to become an actor. The ideas in this article come from “How to Be a Magnet for Hollywood Success” by Rock and Riddle and from “Out of Sight (or Ear) Out of Mind…Stay in Touch, Meet Contacts, Network, Advertise!” by Betttye Zoller.
You have to get business cards printed, or make them on your computer if you have the proper software; these will be like standard business cards, except your name is the name that goes center on the card where the business name usually is. It also has on it your contact information and your picture, albeit small. If someone has this card, they remember what you look like and how to get in touch with you. You can also put “Actor” under your name. (“Actress,” of course for women). Whenever you meet someone in the business, you give them your card. This is getting you “out there.” Whenever you are in proximity to a famous actor or a director or a casting director or an agent, (and you should seek out such opportunities at least twice a week or as often as possible) you go up to them and introduce yourself and tell them how much you would like to be part of their next project. It helps, of course, to begin by saying something nice about their recent work, such as, “I saw ‘Great American Film,’ and I really liked it.” Or, “I have long been an admirer of yours,” or something similar. Be sure you give them your card as you finish telling them how much you would like to work on their next project. You can also swap cards with others in the business, creating a list of contacts for yourself. Keep these carefully organized where you can get at them. Make notes on the backs of them if you need to in order to refresh your memory where and when you met and so on. A file of these cards will be very important.
The next tools you will need are some postcards that also have your photo and your contact information on them, along with a place for the address, and with plenty of space for a message. Perhaps it would be best if your photo were on one side and the other were divided between address and message. Whenever you are in a class, or audition and did not get a role, or you are in a show or a film, or do any other professional work; as soon as it is over jot the teacher or director (or whomever is pertinent) a note saying that you enjoyed or were happy to (or whatever) work with them or audition for them, and that you look forward to having the same opportunity in the near future. You also use these cards as reminders that you might send to agents and casting directors, etc. whose memory of you, you would like to jog.
Next, as soon as possible, you will want a demo reel, a CD with clips of your performances in films and plays. These are often requested by casting directors and if you just happen to have one with you when you have a chance encounter with a director or producer you can leave it with them with your card.
Carrying your resume and headshots and even duplicates of some reviews of your performances with you at all times is also good. You never know when you will have the opportunity to spread the word about what a fine actor you are. Be prepared always to do so.
Always, always ask for the business card of those you meet that are in the business. Keep an up to date card file by sending out post cards with return address requests on them so you get back the ones that are no longer valid. Be sure to send everyone in your card file notices of where and when you will be performing.
The holidays are perfect for reminding people on your card list that you are still in the business and eager to work for or with them. Thanksgiving and New Year’s cards are especially appropriate. You might even create a New Year’s Newsletter, a single page of highlights from your work of the past year with photos of well-known people you worked with. Always carrying a digital camera with you to catch those chance encounters or special photo ops is another good idea to follow. But postcards are the most effective, as it will always get seen before being thrown out. Letters or cards in envelopes are wasted money and effort, as they will almost never be opened.
Do charity work. Get your picture in the paper when you do. When the big stars do that it is pre-planned for publicity, always. Whenever you update your CD or photos send them out with the “All New” title whenever it is a propos.
Do not neglect the web. Keep a website. Do a blog. Join social networks. Comment and contribute on public forums.
These may seem little or bothersome things, but they are the most important things you can do to make yourself known in the industry. You must study and learn all of the above techniques and make them your daily habit. Ignore them and you will surely fail as an actor. You cannot rely on your agent to do your PR for you; you have to do it for yourself.