1. Find a Way To Break the Ice: It is never easy to just strike up a conversation with an unsuspecting person in an effort to network. So, find a way to break the ice and start the conversation. There is always something in common between you and the person you want to (and need to) talk to, even if it isn’t obvious at first. Find that commonality, and push forward.
2. Always Follow Up: So, you start the conversation and you end up meeting someone for coffee to chat as a way to make them aware of what you can do. Try your best to get their contact information--if you do, follow up afterwards. It takes five minutes to send a simple email to say ‘Hi Again: This is Vanessa, and I just want to touch base and thank you for talking with me yesterday about the different opportunities I can take with my career--I really appreciate your expertise and the guidance you gave me. It was a pleasure meeting you and I look forward to speaking with you in the future.’ A simple communication like this really says a lot about yourself and your character. Do not be afraid to relate to something they said over the course of your correspondence. People tend to react positively to others who take interest in their work or hobbies.
3. Create Lasting Relationships: Doug Shapiro, professional actor and career coach, believes one of the biggest mistakes an actor can make when networking is only talking about themselves and neglecting to show any interest in the person you are talking to. Yes, you are selling yourself, but just giving information about yourself to another person does nothing to help you build a lasting relationship with him or her. Relationships are a two way street, and you need to make sure you have done all you can on your end to build the foundation for a strong professional relationship.
4. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone: Networking takes courage. Things will not always just fall into your lap--you may have to go seek out opportunities to network. So, if you know of an industry ‘hot spot,’ where you know you will have the opportunity to meet people who could help you further your career in some way, try making weekend plans at this place or event instead. You never know what could happen if you find yourself in the right place at the right time.
5. Use Social Media: Doug Shapiro also recommends using social media to further your networking efforts. He, however, recommends tailoring your presence and talk about other parts of your life rather than just your career. This allows for people to get a sense of who you really are as a person. When you do mention your career, he recommends you do so by holding others up. Let’s say you post on Facebook twice a week. The first time, you post about something you love to do outside of your career. Now the second time, you post about something career related. When you do so, make sure you hold up others in the process. For example, Doug provided an example with mentioning a director of a production you are in, and how you respect their work and can’t wait to work with them. This alerts people to what you are doing, but in a way that is not just bragging about yourself. People will be more receptive to positive comments like this when it comes to networking, and it will help them to remember you down the line.
And there are 5 Tips for networking for the actor. Make sure to submit questions if you have them for next month!