When actors network in the film and TV business, it should be the same as networking in any other industry. Unfortunately, because actors feel so much at the mercy of others for hiring, there are some common pitfalls in their networking.
Making these mistakes can have the exact opposite effect and make others want to get away from you rather than hire you.
Although I know YOU would never do these, you can tell your other actor friends not to do them! Here are three tips to help avoid the pitfalls.
* Don’t try “too hard.”
Networking requires you to be outgoing, however powerful people can sense desperation a mile away. If you try “too hard,” you look desperate. Don’t push yourself to talk to a stranger and then come on too strong. But also don’t get too worried about how you’ll be perceived either or you’ll just clam up and stay in your head.
If you want to meet someone and network, try to have a normal conversation with them like you would with anyone. Don’t ruin their evening by badgering them or constantly talking about yourself so they know how great you are.
When you’re at a party, people are mainly there to enjoy themselves and not hear you trying hard to sell yourself. Your prospects you will quickly be turned off if you do that. Instead, focus the conversation on them or talk about something completely unrelated to what you’re trying to network about.
Engage them in conversation before saying much about yourself. Get to know them first and opportunities to throw something in about yourself will naturally arise.
* Don’t be a sycophant — aka a suck-up.
Although people in the film or television industry often have huge egos, nobody likes an obvious suck-up. Flattery is nice when it means something, but not when it’s manipulative. It won’t work in the long-term even if for some reason it does in the short-term.
If you are aware of the person’s previous work and you liked it, then say so. But don’t compliment people to get them to like you.
Flattery is nice when it means something, but not when it’s manipulative.
Likewise, don’t think you’re being “authentic” or sharp and tell them what you didn’t like about their work either and how you would have played the role differently than the star did. Don’t offer your better, alternative ending to the movie.
Try to be as normally charming and friendly as you can.
* Don’t talk shop constantly.
Imagine you are a mechanic and someone comes up to you at an event and obsessively talks to you about cars. You might even sense they’re trying to get info from you for free and just take rather than contribute to you. You’d probably find them pretty boring – maybe even annoying, right?
It’s the same in the film industry. When people are out having a good time, they are not there to be interviewed by someone who is trying to work their way up the ladder. They don’t want to talk about piddly little things about the business that are not that interesting to them.
Most outings have some level of networking going on, and people will talk shop a bit, but that should not be the main topic if you’re chatting with them.
Talk to them as you would to anyone you’ve just met at a casual party. Forget that they are a producer or agent or casting director and strike up a general conversation. Talk about current events rather than your hopes for a career. Maybe mention how you got invited to the event.
Reference events or activities in your life, where you came from, what you did last week if it was fun. Reveal little things about yourself in the course of a normal conversation – not head-on like you’re reading your bio to them.
* Make sure your voice remains deep and resonant when you talk.
Too often, when people get nervous, their voice turns into a high-pitched annoyance. A deeper more resonant voice makes you sound more professional and relaxed. It is more pleasant and gives you more credibility.
If you have a naturally high voice, you don’t need to feel bad or change it, but be aware that when you get nervous, your voice may get a bit “pitchy” – or “screech-y.”
* Above all, be yourself.
Go to these events and parties with the intention of having fun. If you enjoy yourself and have a good time, other people are far more likely to like you and find you interesting. Be confident, look fabulous, and don’t be afraid to engage others in conversation.
When you follow these basic tips on an ongoing basis, you will begin to develop strong networking skills and you will avoid looking like a jerk.
If you would like to develop your networking skills further, consider one-on-one training with Melody Jackson. She’s worked with thousands of actors in helping them pitch themselves and converse in networking situations.