The costliest mistake you can make when trying to build an acting career is not keeping track of and keeping in touch with industry people you meet over time.
There are a few reasons that actors fail to do this and and it’s a huge, costly mistake.
Think about all the time, money, and effort you put into your career to try to make contacts and get auditions. From getting your headshots done to submitting to agents. From submitting daily to Actors Access to doing casting director workshops, you put a lot of time, effort, and money into your acting career to try to make contact with the people who could call you for auditions and ultimately give you a job as an actor.
If you don’t keep track of every single one of these contacts, you are pretty much washing money down the drain….helping it swirl down like the garbage disposal like extra food from a dirty dish.
And that’s a problem for your acting career, considering how badly you want to be cast.
Why is this a problem for so many actors?
It’s a problem for actors for the same reason it’s a problem for any other small business as you are about to find out!
The problem has two components and each component contributes to the problem.
It Takes Effort To Keep Track of Industry People and Keep in Touch
One of the reasons actors don’t track the contacts they meet is that it takes effort and discipline. You have to set up a system and that takes effort to set it up — You also have to have the discipline to follow through and use it consistently.
Let’s look more closely. First, the system has to have several parts to make it work. Here are the broad strokes of that system.
- You have to make sure you get all of the relevant info you’ll need to follow up with that contact.
- You also have to make sure you record the contact properly and consistently so you know who the contact is when you go back to it to follow up.
- You have to be able to filter out only the contacts you want when you have something you want to announce or promote.
- You have to be able to not only filter, but actually retrieve the list you need to an appropriate tool for how you’ll promote to them. This could be a csv file, for example, with a list of emails or addresses.
- Then you have to have a plan for what you will announce and how.
To do these things, it takes presence of mind to make sure you get the info and record all the necessary info right away so you don’t forget important parts of it.
You need to be diligent about making notes about who they are in the sense of any bio information you learned about them as well as any reason you might think of that you could follow up with them again. (For instance, if you learned they are a big Chicago Cubs fan or if you have a shared interest.)
It could be as simple as noting that they are a casting director and which shows they cast. Minimally, you could categorize them with a hashtag in your contact app with #castingdirector.
To implement this in the simplest way possible, start by saving the information about every audition you go on. Write as much about it as you can on a piece of paper and put the paper in a folder so it’s there when you are ready to record it and use it.
You can either enter the info in as you get it or if you are confident you have the papers stored in a safe place, you can save them and enter them all at the same time when you’re ready to follow up with them.
Make a note of where the audition was, the casting director’s name, how you did, whether you got a callback, what type of role it was, and anything else you can think of.
You should have some system in place – either an electronic address book or a single place where you capture in writing all the information on the people you’ve met.
Tracking this information is critical to building your contacts list over time for your acting career. The most important thing is to have the system and plan for how you will use it.
Now let’s look at another reason your might have problems with tracking and following up with the industry contacts you make.
Not Knowing Know How to Filter Only the Contacts You Need
The second half of the problem is following up with the people you have now kept track of. You need to be able to easily filter the names of the people you want to contact. That’s why putting a hashtag category or tag of some other sort on your contact list is important. It will enable you to filter out only the names that have that particular tag.
Once you have that list pulled up, now you need to be able to print them out if you are going to send a postcard or simply get their email addresses into a list so you can email them.
To do these things, it’s a matter of using your technology in a way that allows you to do so. There are some versions of this for your iPhone and Android as well as standard desktop and cloud apps, such as Microsoft Outlook. You can over export this list to a csv to use to do your preferred way of following up with them.
Then it’s just a matter of staying in touch with them so they remember you in a good way. Little by little as you build your contact list and keep in touch, you will find that you have many people to keep in touch with.
Now we’ll look at a final problem for actors with this simple concept.
Not Knowing What to Follow Up About
Once you do the first two steps — record and categorize everyone and also make sure you can access those names in a usable way — now you need to know what to follow up with them about.
This is why being active in your acting career is a must.
You have to have projects to talk about and to announce. If you sit at home and watch TV all night every night, go to the gym in the morning, and only do temp work during the day, you probably aren’t going to have anything to talk about for your acting career.
You need to make things happen. You need to work on getting auditions, booking, and even producing your own projects. Otherwise it’s pretty obvious you won’t have anything relevant to announce.
I know that you might be taking lots of actions for your career and still not feel have much to announce, but you just have to stay at it. You also have to get creative about it.
You can mail postcard announcements about any TV show you’ve been cast in, a play, commercial, webisode, film, and more. Even if it’s a small project, you can let people know. Put a great headshot on the postcard and send it with a fun announcement.
Even if the main person at the office doesn’t see your postcard, someone else at that production company or casting office will.
Over time, as people see your face and name over and over, they start to “know your name from somewhere” even if they don’t recall exactly where they met you.
You have to get creative about ways to keep in touch and what to keep in touch about. If you’ve felt it’s hard to think of something to say, you could be right. That’s why most actors don’t do it. And that’s where you gave an opportunity to stand out.
But it does take work and creativity.
Don’t Let the Value of Your Contacts Go Down the Drain
For every single business on the planet, the only way they can survive is to have customers. You’ve heard many times that your acting career is a business.
When you realize that your industry contacts are the customers for your acting career, then you can start to relate to your career as a business.
Think about how many businesses follow up with you or try to get your information in case they want to. I get a postcard from my dentist every few months.
You need to focus on getting “customers” for your acting services… and getting repeat customers just like any other business. There’s no way around it. Your contacts are your potential customers.
By understanding the importance of keeping track of your contacts and following up, I hope that you’ll reassess where you are in developing your system and take the next step to up your game.