Like it was said about a dozen times in our short handbook for actors, Networking (with a capital “N”) is a skill that every actor looking for a break has to master. Some of us choose to ignore this, but the fact remains that entertainment business is about who you know (or rather, who knows you). Check out below some of our best networking tips for actors to use whenever the opportunity comes up.
Best Networking Tips for Actors
Greatest places for networking are industry parties, gatherings and of course film festivals, as we have already covered. Now let’s say you’ve been invited to one of those precious networking events with a pool of talented directors, actors, screenwriters and influential agents, casting directors and producers. Do you know what you’re going to do?
Have a plan, don’t go in blind
First things first. There are numerous events constantly being organized in major showbiz cities just for the purpose of networking. Everybody is there for the very same reason, but the only way you really come out of it with some accomplishment is if you know what’s your goal and who you want to meet. Always do your research beforehand, find out who knows who at that event or party (play the six degrees of separation game), and make sure to schmooze with people you need to; it is part of your job after all.
You must stay focused
We all feel a shortage of like-minded people around us, and sharing your struggle and experiences with other thespians at various networking events is always pleasant. However, you must remember — that is not your primary goal of the evening. You are there to make connections; friendly ones, but beneficial to your career in one way or another.
Based on your research and talent for guessing people’s jobs (if you have it), try to approach casting directors, talent agents, screenwriters, producers, directors and other industry folks that will have some kind of influence on your career.
Let go of the act, keep it real
I know, it probably isn’t an easy task given your profession, but you need to get over it. Whenever you’re approaching a person to make a connection, do your best to stay real, keep it simple and just be genuine. Regardless of what you think, most people in this industry — especially old wolfs and veterans — will be able to tell when you’re putting on an act. And trust me, it’s not as pretty as you imagine it to be.
Stay loose, keep your spontaneity, work on your improv skills. You must be yourself, communicate, talk, network, schmooze and never expect anything in return. Strike a connection, make a good impression and move on. When the right time comes, it will pay off.
Make a connection
Once you found a person you really want to meet and talk to, approach them with confidence. You can start the conversation with compliments about their work or anything like that. Again, you better have done your research so as to avoid any kind of embarrassment. Never promote yourself to the person you’re talking to. Trust me, they know why you’re here, so just keep it casual and friendly.
Tell them what you thought of their job on this and that, give them a little boost, pick them up to speed and let them know that you greatly value any advice they can equip you with. Showbiz people have big egos, they love to give out advice to others.
Do not overstay your welcome
Majority of people will appreciate you coming over to pay them a compliment or strike a quick conversation about their work. However, don’t forget to leave them some breathing space and split when you feel the time is right (after making a connection, obviously). Plus, it isn’t such a bad idea to get to know more than one industry folk during these gatherings. Once you have charmed the soul out of that producer, let them miss you while you go and find your next target.
Avoid burning any bridges
You never know who that unknown screenwriter you’re talking to right now might become. Next Tom Stoppard? Maybe, who’s to say. If you feel your conversation starting to heat up, either try to put the fire out or just walk away. It’s better to keep that relationship neutral than go with your principals and ego, and gain yet another nemesis in this career path.
This industry is very unpredictable: one day she might be an assistant, the other — a powerful talent agent. Try your best to make as many friends as possible while keeping the number of enemies to a minimum.
Enjoy yourself! It’s a party after all
While you do have to maintain your focus and remember the reason why you’re here in the first place, do not say “no” to every opportunity of having some fun. Take some time to relax, have a drink or some food and just enjoy being in a circle of creative, imaginative, entertainment industry people. If you continue on this journey, these sort of professionals will become part of your life, so learn how to relax around them and not count every second and every breath.