The short answer is, “No, of course not.” But expanding your network will help you meet every acting goal on your list. So, rather than seeing networking events as a cringe-inducing waste of time, embrace them as a simple path to create authentic relationships.
Here at Career ACTivate, we like to use the word RELATIONSHIPS far more than networking.
Networking events can feel transactional. Like, “I can do this for you, if you do this for me.” And who likes that? Not me!
I want to share two ways to look at these gatherings that can potentially make them feel less icky. And just so my eye can stop twitching every time I type “Networking”… we are going to use the words “Relationship-Building” instead.
OPTION #1: The “Go-Giver” Approach
The first way to approach a Relationship-Building event is to attend with a “go-giver” attitude of solving a problem for someone. You have YOU-nique characteristics, hobbies, assets that truly serve the common good.
Take a moment to think about 2 things you can offer to others from your unique set of skills and assets .
Think about how you can find at least one person you can genuinely connect with and to whom you can offer that thing you do so well.
All of sudden, this positions you in a place of being a giver and at the beginning of forming an authentic relationship.
Here is an example:
Shanelle, an actor, attends a Film Independent event. They meet a writer whose story resonates with them. Shanelle says:
“If you ever have a reading, I can connect you with a couple of my actor friends who would be happy to read for you.”
Maybe Shanelle takes it a step further… What if they were the person to coordinate an informal reading with their buddies and the writer?
“Whoa Whoa Whoa, Tiffany! That is a lot!”
Shanelle can feel out the writer’s response to see if they are interested in simple introductions to actors. OR if the writer would be open to getting support in creating an informal reading. Many non-actors don’t have an abundance of actor friends that will read a script for free. Shanelle is an asset because they are providing something that the writer needs.
They are also supporting their friends by introducing them to new contacts, giving them a chance to act, and introducing them to a writer.
Shanelle gets to know the writer much better, and now they have explored and possibly created an authentic relationship with this writer.
See why I don’t use the word networking. This is all about true authentic connections.
OPTION #2: The Goal-Centric Approach
The second way you can approach a Relationship-Building event is by going in with a goal.
Maybe your goal is to find a fellow sci-fi nerd. Maybe your goal is to find someone of your same cultural background. (I am Trinidadian so I am always on the lookout for that!) Maybe your goal is to find the best logline.
Take a moment to think about what outcome would be satisfying for you.
Of course, meeting a casting director that offers the role of one’s dreams would be perfection. But, we can reach that by building authentic relationships centered around things and people that truly resonate with you.
This positions you in a place where that audition or booking could come naturally with ease.
Use this to guide your interactions and conversations at the event and come up with a specific connection strategy that could help move you one step closer to your goal.
Here is an example:
Ellis wants to work on a film that could potentially go to a big film festival like Sundance or Tribeca. They attend a Relationship-Building event, like AT&T Shape. Ellis brainstorms goals for this particular event which could lead them to an authentic relationship that gets them closer to their dream.
Ellis’s Goal Brainstorm:
Attend the short film showcase and congratulate one of the creators of a short film that they truly like.
At the networking tent, state their big goal at least once during each meeting. *Sidenote: AT&T Shape has a networking tent where you can set up meetings with other creatives in advance.*
Mention to one person a recent Sundance film that Ellis likes, and ask them for a suggestion of a film that is circulating festivals right now that they should watch.
Ellis now has several options but decides to go with option #3.
They choose this because it allows them to mention Sundance. Additionally, this question helps to find out the taste of the person they are talking to.
Thereby further figuring out if this is an authentic connection. It also positions Ellis in a place of being a giver and opens up conversation which can be hard to do with a stranger.
So there you have it!
Try The Go-Giver Approach or The Goal-Centric Approach to get out of your head at the next networking event.
And if you want to dig deeper into relationship-building, check out Career ACTivate’s Home Study Course, The Relationship Roadmap, that will revolutionize how you build relationships and book work.
Or if you’re looking for hands-on guidance to help define your goals and build your confidence, we invite you to explore becoming a part of our yearlong Elite Coaching & Mastermind Program, where you can be paired with a Coach to walk you step-by-step through your next Relationship-Building event.
Things are quieter right now because of the strike.
And if for some reason you have missed what is going on, please take a look at the WGA’s website, social media, and most recently, SAG-AFTRA’s statement of approving a vote for a strike authorization of the actor’s union.
Though things may be a little bit shaky, we can find our footing by connecting with those around us.
If you are interested in deepening connections or showing appreciation, I have a couple of free gives that can be shared. Everyone could truly take a little gift to feel better during these uncertain times.
1. Insight Timer – Free Meditation App
Find a short meditation on Insight Timer that speaks to you and the recipient. Share the specific meditation with them as a gift of breath, peace, and a moment of calm.
2. Share a memorable moment from your encounter
If you connected with someone in person while working or at an event you can send a note sharing the most memorable thing they said or did while you all were together. This is a great way to make someone feel special and help them connect YOU to a moment so they remember you. This works really great for follow-up emails, thank you cards, or to remain in touch with someone.
Example: Once, in a thank you note to the 3rd AD for an episodic television show, I quoted her morning greeting of “Today will be a good day” and told her I looked forward to hearing that each day. It was like my very own personal cup of coffee.
Notice the above example is specific, brief, and personal.
3. The Nudge – Free App for Outings
Sift through The Nudge to find a unique outing/ activity for them to check out during the industry’s downtime. Activities range from rooftops with free pizza to how to spend a weekend in Palm Springs. Cater your suggestion towards their preferences. How do you find out their preferences? Do some digging on social media, listen to interviews on podcasts that they have done, or find other ways through Career ACTivate’s Relationship Roadmap course.
Share a couple of unique tags that can be used on picket signs for the WGA Strike. This is a great way to show your support, personality, and creativity.
Example: “I saw you are in support of the WGA and I wanted to share a few tag lines you can use if you’re on the picket lines:
That’s your counteroffer?
You want these pages then run these wages!”
Hope these unique gives are well-received. And have fun finding which one fits for you!
How I Booked the Lead in a Major Feature Film Without Reps
The Director yelled “cut!” I looked around. And it hit me.
Holy crap. I’m the lead in a legitimate, independent, FEATURE film. I’m working with Emmy-winning actors and people I grew up watching in movie theatres and on television. I am literally living my dream.
Acting in AMELIA 2.0 was a dream come true. I got to spend a month in another city, fully immersed in the story and character I had fallen in love with. And it all happened without reps.
Let’s back up.
But let me start by saying the trap many of us fall into is to immediately become obsessed with tactics. The how.
How did you book the job? What website did you go to, what email signature did you have, how long was your demo reel?!
The truth is there is no specific step-by-step process, no magic “book a job” phone number. You can, however, develop relationships that lead to work.
On the surface, I booked this role by randomly meeting someone and becoming friends. Later I learned they were a producer, focused on helping them out, and then one day they put me on tape and sent it to the director.
But let’s look much deeper.
I’ve discovered there are 5 keys to booking work without reps:
1) ADD VALUE
Quick test: If you needed to pack and move all your stuff tomorrow, how many friends would come help you? If the answer is “not many,” then I invite you to start practicing adding more value to those around you.
When I found out my friend was a producer, my immediate response was, “that’s amazing. How can I help you?”
Turns out he was looking for a certain kind and caliber of script. I started connecting him with various writer friends of mine and their scripts.
And—this is key—I wasn’t expecting anything in return. I was simply helping him because I want to see my friends succeed.
Add value to everyone you can, not because they’ll do something in return, but because a) it’s scientifically proven to make you happier, and b) it’s human nature to treat people the way they treat others.
Treat people with love and support, and that’s how others will treat you.
If I’m going to hire you based on our relationship, I want to know that I can trust you. That you’re going to show up on time, be kind to the grips, and that you’re reliable enough to know your lines.
There will always be more actors than roles. So why would someone hire an asshole? Someone who’s going to be rude on set or a total fun hater.
Go to therapy. Improve yourself. Practice kindness.
Be the kind of person people want to work with.
3) BE EXCELLENT AT YOUR CRAFT
The actual “audition,” if you can even call it that, was at my friend’s house in their living room. I had maybe ten minutes with one of the scenes, and then I read with their roommate. Who was an accountant.
There was no audition room, no fancy camera, no lighting. Just my friend holding his phone and taping me.
All the years of classes, working on bringing my best work even in extraordinary circumstances allowed me to bring my best at that moment. To tell a compelling story regardless of my reader, limited time with the story, etc.
The business side is important—if no one knows you exist they can’t hire you. But skill matters. Artistry is imperative. Being an exceptional storyteller is of tremendous import.
Sure, every once in a while someone gets a job simply on looks or money or whatever, but almost never does that turn into a long-term career if not backed up by skill.
Be a master of your craft.
4) REMIND PEOPLE YOU’RE ALIVE
Just because someone knows you and likes your work, doesn’t mean they’ll think of you for a role.
I hear actors get mad about this, but the human brain can only pay attention to so many things. Studies have shown there is a very finite limit on the number of people we can actively have in our social circle at any given time.
Send postcards, take people to lunch, and send personal emails. Set up a google alerts for people you care about and send a congratulations when something great happens for them. Keep in touch on social media.
Do great work and then get it front of people.
Stay top of mind not just by sharing your own wins and work, but by constantly adding value.
5) MAXIMIZE YOUR LUCK
So you’re working on yourself, committed to genuinely adding value, getting out there, and being an excellent storyteller. Now, it’s a matter of luck.
I mean, it’s a small miracle that some writer imagined a role that’s a good fit for you, that role ended up in a script that’s actually getting made, and the people making the project know you exist.
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” ~Coleman Cox
Luck, in a way, is a numbers game. The more people know and like you, the higher your odds they’ll give you a job. The better actor you are, the more people will want you in their projects. The more value you add to other people, the more people will want to add value to you.
Make your own work, build relationships with casting, and network at film festivals.
Take even small steps forward every day. Put yourself out there and live the life of an artist.
Understandably, as actors we often obsess about auditions—how many we have, what they’re for, and how long it’s been since we’ve had one.
But auditions are NOT the only way to book work.
Think about it. If you were casting your own film tomorrow, would you rather post a breakdown online and find a stranger for the role, or hire one of your friends?
Create authentic relationships with decision-makers and fellow creators, and watch your career take flight.
For more insight, tools, and tactics on booking work, download our exclusive 3-gift series with insider strategies from working actors that have actually worked. CLICK HERE for your free download.