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Begin Acting. Be Everything.

4. Networking…that old dirty flirty word

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This is potentially going to unhinge some very happy networking organizers but let’s see how we go.

No-one should ever pay to network! Networking should be free.
Let’s look at the definition:

net·work·ing (-wʉr′kiŋ)
noun

  1. the developing of contacts or exchanging of information with others in an informal network, as to further a career
(*taken from www.yourdictionary.com 2010)

So come on lovely people. Should you have to pay for the exchange of information when it is two-way. No way! Yes it’s expected that when we are learning a craft or skill we go to someone who is skilled in that area and we pay money for the opportunity to learn from them. That is to be expected. That is only fair.

But to walk into a room full of ‘actors’, ‘directors’ and ‘producers’ and be asked to pay money even before you’ve met them, well that’s asking a bit much don’t you think. You may be the most knowledgeable person in that room. How would you know. And the little person who organized that event is making money off you without you even knowing it. Not fair!

Rant over.

Why networking is great:
• It is typically a relaxed, informal way to meet new industry peeps
• You get to finally hand out some of those pretty little business cards you worked so hard on designing
• You can and almost always do make one brilliant connection that can be a good longer term contact
• You’ll typically walk away feeling all warm and fuzzy. Think about it, the networking events you choose are going to be an area you love…in this case acting. And when you attend you’ll often be inspired by other people who are out there making it happen.
• They usually involves alcohol (come on, that can’t be a bad thing)

Truth
Sadly roles don’t grow on trees and neither do contacts. You have to go out there and make them.

Dare
Are you really doing everything you can to improve your industry contact? If not then this week I challenge you to find one interesting networking night that is on in the next month (free please!) and book yourself in.
Tip: check out Shooting People. Tom hosts Shooters in the Pub every month and it’s an uber cool  very focused group and super useful event.

Fact
You need to keep in contact with your new networks regularly or there’s no point in making the contact. Have you kept a list of how you made them and your last communication? Want one? Email me and I’ll send you my template.

Until next time b.a.b.e.s.

6 Comments

  • carrie Reply

    Great points! Also, and this might sound TOO obvious, but you should never have to pay to audition! As if we actors aren't broke enough already…there are cruel people out there that will try to scam us for money to audition (for a project that may or may not exist in the end??). Nonsense, isn't it? I've never heard of someone paying to go on a corporate job interview!

    Angie, once you get a following, you should host a networking event. 🙂

    And what is this template of contacts? I want one. (You know people try to "sell" organizational tools like those to actors too. not kidding.)

  • Ben Reply

    Nice post. I’d add my $0.02 about the whole networking/casting thing for actors from a producer’s perspective…

    Don’t bring headshots to networking events. I can see what you look like by, um… looking at your face because you’re standing in front of me. And I don’t want to have to carry them home, nor feel mildly guilty when I throw them in the bin before I get on the Tube.

    While we’re on headshots, don’t attach your headshots to EVERY email you send me, particularly if you don’t know how to use Photoshop to make them less than 5MB a pop. In the office, this is just annoying, but I won’t even open your mail if I’m travelling on my iPhone and I see massive attachments. Making me pay £5 to read your email is not really going to endear you to me.

    Do have a business card which includes your photo and links to your reel. If you don’t have an online reel these days, you’re telling me you aren’t serious about acting. I also don’t want your reel on DVD (see previous comments about bins)

    Producers are mainly concerned with famous actors (because that’s how we get projects financed), so don’t be offended if we don’t want to talk with you for too long at a networking event. It’s more important for us to meet writers/directors/crew/financiers etc at these events.

    And a couple of audition tips (from sitting in on a few)…

    If you’re foreign, make sure your RP accent is flawless (and if you can do regionals, even better). You’re much harder to cast if you can’t speak like a local.

    DO NOT perform pieces from Shakespeare when auditioning for a film/tv role!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You’re simply demonstrating you don’t get it.

    And take notice of the size of the room you’re actually auditioning in. If you’re not auditioning in the Coliseum, you don’t need to project!

  • Angela Reply

    Brilliant advice Ben and Carrie. Thanks for the post.

    Ben, I particularly like hearing things from a producer's perspective….as an actor it's so easy to forget that you guys get inundated with actresses throwing themselves at you at networking events hoping you'll put them in your next big feature or short.

    It's also refreshing to hear such honest comments. Thanks for the feedback.

  • carrie Reply

    Ben: regarding foreigners…how much value do you place on native Australian and American accents (e.g. Angela and Carrie, respectively?) during castings? Is there even a small market for Australians and Americans who have less-than-perfect RP accents? Just curious.

    Or Angela, you probably know the answer? Maybe you should write a post about accents? I think that is a huge obstacle for a lot of foreign actors. I know it was for me when I was there! Maybe you know of a good place with accent and dialect training for London newbies?

    xx

  • Angela Reply

    Carrie,

    My thoughts on accents is that there is no such thing as not having a perfect one. If you are going to do RP it has to be 100% perfect, same with American etc.

    Personally speaking I know of a wonderful teacher here in London, Lindsey Lawson, who has a company called The Voice Cafe (http://www.thevoicecafe.net/) I can't speak highly enough of Lindsey's methods for teaching and her class format. Definitely worth checking out for any actors looking for dialect training.

    And yes, I think I'll write more on accents in coming months.

  • carrie Reply

    Thanks, Angela! You are so right. It has to be 100% perfect, and you have to be 100% confident that it's perfect…right now, I'm around the 80% mark…a few of the vowel sounds are still a little bit awkward.

    I'm not in London so obviously can't visit Lindsey, BUT I've just gotten a helpful CD: "Acting with an accent: Standard British" by David Allen Stern. It is useful for Americans…maybe not so much for Aussies. He switches back and forth between American and British throughout the CD.

    Again, wishing you'd made this blog, say, 3 or 4 years ago! Hopefully some new actors are taking your advice!

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