Networking is tricky... most people don't like it because it feels too salesy and self-promotional. But by focusing on the needs of others more than your own, it becomes much easier.
- I know I’m supposed to network, but I hate selling myself. I guess I’m out of luck because I’m an introvert.
- You're not out of luck. It's way easier if you just ask people questions about themselves. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, and if you ask questions, people will like you more and you won't have to feel "self-promotional." You can even be honest right up front and tell the person that you're not good at meeting new people. They will instantly connect with you for being vulnerable.
- I suck at networking and need to learn to be more natural.
- Just ask people questions about themselves and stop talking about yourself. Not sure what to ask? Try, "What do you do?" or "What types of characters do you play?" or even, "How did you get into acting/agenting/filmmaking?"
- I want to figure out how to enjoy connecting with people in the industry.
- The more natural you are with it, the easier and more fun it can be. You always need something to offer people for them to want to connect with you. What can you offer of value? Sometimes asking people for advice can make them feel special - and making them feel special or smart is a form of providing value to them! Or you can invite them to see you perform in a show and pay for their ticket. Or you can offer to help them out as a reader during their next casting session. How can you help people in the industry? Come up with some ideas, and there's your answer. That's how you connect and form relationships.
- I'm terrible at keeping in touch with people.
- Try using companies like CastingAbout because they can make keeping in touch with people much easier. Watch this interview I did with CastingAbout co-founder Blair Hickey to learn more. You should plan on staying in touch at least 4 times a year with casting directors and agents you're currently communicating with. Just set a reminder and try to send them something relevant that they'll actually care about (like news on something big you were just in, or an award the production you were just in won). Remember, some casting directors like postcards and others like email. Be sure to ask them what type of followup they prefer before choosing one or the other.
- What if I say the wrong thing to a CD or Agent? What if I wind up on their Wall of Shame??
- They usually don't put people on the Wall of Shame unless they do something extremely unprofessional. Chances of you messing up in that way are fairly low, so don't worry about it. But if you are worried, put a preface in your note that says, "I don't know if I'm doing this correctly - and if I'm not, please let me know - but..." This way you preemptively apologize and they don't get as annoyed. Not sure if what you're about to do will get you on the Wall of Shame? Email me with your idea and I'll give you my opinion.