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Taking the Fear out of Networking for your Career

One of the most important actions to take as an actor is Networking. Yes, I know it seems daunting. As soon as most actors think about it, the common reaction is ‘I don’t know where to go’, ‘I hate those things they are so false, I’m not very good at small talk’ or ‘I’m rubbish at selling myself, that’s why I have an agent’.

Whilst all those things may seem to be true (in your head) none of them are insurmountable and until you become as well known as Helen Mirren or Brad Pitt, you’d better make sure you are networking your little socks off.

Look, you’re an actor, you’re great but there is no point being the best kept secret in your bedroom. You need to get out in the industry and make contacts. Remember, all the producers, directors and writers NEED you. They can’t do anything without you. You are a hot commodity so don’t think of yourself as an afterthought (even if the odd person treats you like that – please walk away from those people).

Each month you should be searching out places to go, popping along, having a glass of wine or two and making some new connections. If you haven’t got a network of at least 200 people as a bare minimum you aren’t going to show up on the radar even if you are on Spotlight, have an agent, a showreel and a kick ass website.

Any time of the year is good to network, so as a new goal this year, put it on your list to get out and develop some new relationships. Make sure you have some business cards, they are so ridiculously cheap, there is no excuse and also make sure you have a decent email address and put your photo on your card. At a networking event you are going to be meeting a lot of people (if you are doing it right) and by the time you get home you will have forgotten some however if you’ve got your photo on your card, everyone is going to remember you.

Depending which area you work in depends of where you need to go to network e.g. are you working in theatre, TV or film. Each requires a different place to go, so make sure you do some research as to what is going on. Try joining some membership group mailing lists, reading some blogs and the trade press, asking your peer group or if you have someone in your contacts already who is further up the food chain, ask them where they think is best to go to and go along with them.

Remember, the reason to network is to meet some people who might employ you in the future or they might know someone else who will employ you in the future. Don’t forget the Six Degrees of Separation. This means, if you want to meet a particular person you are no more than 6 people away from them e.g. a friend knows a friend who knows someone who lives next door to their hairdresser’s sister!

Networking is fun; it’s just talking to people and as an actor I’m pretty sure you can do that. If you want to learn more tips, tricks and how to enjoy each event come along to the workshop “Taking the Fear out of Networking for your Career” run by Lyn Burgess of The Magic Key Partnership.