Invited to a party? Now that’s where you’re wrong. When you are an actor, any party is an important networking event. Of course, you should bring your dancing shoes, but for you, what’s essential is lying outside of the dance floor. Firstly, you should know networking dos and don’ts for actors in Los Angeles.
Yes, being talented and perfecting your craft is essential, but the talent is never enough. To be a well-known actor in Hollywood, you must look around and utilize everything and everyone you have around you. Networking is creating and maintaining relationships with professionals in the industry who might be able to help you in a hasty manner or in a way that you could never imagine.
Being an experienced headshot photographer in Los Angeles comes with its perks. Read on to see my tips on the common mistakes and unknown methods of good networking for actors in Los Angeles.
If you’re at a party where you don’t know anyone, it’s common to feel timid and shy, maybe even hide in the bathroom. But, to take the first step, you must build up some confidence and go for it. Chances are everyone around you is doing the same thing. So don’t miss out. Any Los Angeles party is a hidden group of agents and actors looking to be paired up.
Always put your best foot forward. Having your “elevator pitch” ready will put you at a much higher advantage over those who are going in unprepared. Try to summarize your past experiences, your hobbies, your motivation, and personality in a short 1-2 minute speech-type text. This should not be too heavy and hard to take in, and should not sound like you’re robotically reciting a text that you have no connection to.
Be quick, precise, and accurate at all times. Ensure you have the listener engaged. Try to hook your listener and make it memorable by starting with an action phrase and ending with a call to action. Use simple language, but do not dumb it down too much.
Having your “elevator pitch” ready will put you at a much higher advantage over those who are going in unprepared.
Asking questions will allow you to better what you already know and learn new things about the industry. Before going to any event, try to research and ask around about who will be present there along with you and look them up. Find their work and other information you can, and note down some questions you would like answered. Always have a few more vague questions in mind in case you meet with someone you didn’t know before. When answering questions, the person in front of you will feel a sense of importance and appreciation. And, in the end, this will only benefit you.
You should engage not only with known professionals but try to approach people who are drinking a cocktail alone or are looking around. They may be on the same level as you. Everyone has different experiences, and they may tell you about an agency or an open call you don’t know about. Asking questions will also help steer the conversation to more interesting topics if you feel that it’s becoming awkward or repetitive. This is one of the most important networking dos and don’ts for actors.
Keep in Touch
At the end of a conversation, always ask for the person’s contact information and preferred platform. It’s essential to keep in touch but also to stay in touch and to follow up. Send articles once you think they’d like or ask about something you know they’re interested in. Try always to keep your business cards on hand. I am a headshot photographer in Los Angeles, and I also keep my cards on hand, because I can find a client in the most unexpected places.
It is also vital to stay in contact with your old friends, coworkers, teachers, classmates, headshot photographers, and so on. They can be a huge help if they see an opening that matches your description, or maybe one of them might be friends with an agent. I am not saying send them a text message every single day but try to keep in touch. That’s one of the networking don’ts for actors. In Hollywood, the more people you know, the more opportunities you have.
Do Pay Attention
When talking to any person, it is important to look out for signs that will show you how they’re responding to what you’re saying. It’s vital you do not ignore the emotions shown by the person in front of you, or you will leave a bad impression. You must pay attention to what you are saying and what response you are receiving in return.
Don’t Ask for Things
When you approach someone who you know is in the industry, NEVER start off by asking for a part or something similar. Even if you know this person from your research still take the time to get to know them. Find common ground and use this as an ice breaker or conversation starter. The common ground could be a favorite drink or an episode of a show, anything to keep the conversation going.
When you approach someone who you know is in the industry, NEVER start off by asking for a part or something like that.
If you approach someone and say that you know they’re looking for an actor for a part, you will immediately get rejected. Not only does it make you seem desperate and annoying, but it also dehumanizes the person you’re speaking to. It reduces them to a walking job poster, which is not what you’re aiming for.
After a light conversation, you may steer the conversation towards a more specific topic and maybe even exchange contacts at the end.
Listen and Learn
Of course, it is important to always prepare questions and conversation starters beforehand, but it is just as important to listen. In front of you are professionals with many many years in the industry and have been through unimaginable things. Take your time and carefully listen to what advice they give and what they recommend. What they say you will find nowhere, not online or in any book.
The rule you should follow is the 80/20 rule. That means to listen to the other person 80 percent of the time, ask questions 10 percent of the time, and share your own opinion 10 percent.
When people say what they want to say, they are more likely to focus afterward on what you have to say.
Even if they aren’t a world-famous agent, you can collect tips anywhere. If someone tells you about their bad experience with a specific agency, you should make your own research and if it turns out to be true – avoid that agency. It’s better to learn from others’ mistakes than to waste time making the same mistakes yourself. I always take the time to get to know my client during the headshot session and give them tips I’ve learned from past clients.
Don’t Overdo it
Pay close attention to the person in front of you. Don’t be too much of a fan and ask too many questions about their past and their experience. If you feel the person getting uncomfortable, change the topic, and tone it down.
Don’t pile your experiences on them and don’t ask for a job.
If you feel them getting distracted and look around, maybe it is time to part ways. Exchange contacts and find someone else to talk to. Don’t feel down on yourself if you can’t feel a connection, you will meet thousands of people every week and not all of them will work out. Time is valuable in this industry, and you must respect your time and their time. Let them talk to other people and find someone else to talk to yourself.
After some time, you will get the hang of this and realize how long networking conversations usually last. You must talk enough, so you are memorable and leave an impression, but you should be careful not to overdo it.
“All the richest people in the world look for and build networks; while everyone else looks for work.”
Network Everywhere in Los Angeles
You never know who’s the person jogging next to you every morning or taking that Zumba class with you. Have you talked to your neighbors, do you know what they do for a living ? Especially in Los Angeles, sometimes it is even better to meet industry professions in a relaxed, non-industry setting.
Actors’ networking like this feels more organic and authentic and takes some pressure off combining with Los Angeles vibe. If you become genuinely interested in the world and start paying more attention to the people surrounding you, you are sure to get farther than those who only give business cards out at specific events.
Don’t Give up
You have chosen a very challenging path, so you must understand that it won’t always be easy. Giving up sounds relieving, but I’m sure that deep in your heart, you will miss this industry. I can’t tell you how many times the people I meet at my headshot photography sessions in Los Angeles tell me that this is the last straw and they are going to quit, but then they get that one role. Networking takes time, and building connections takes lots of effort, but it will only benefit you as an actor.
Strive to speak to as many people as you can and use your time wisely. Don’t stay with one person too long, or you might miss out on a bigger opportunity. Limiting yourself is wrong. Most likely, 90% of these connections won’t lead to something right away, so the more connections you make, the better off you are.
Talk to everyone in your vicinity and don’t try to keep count. Valuable contacts can also be people outside of your field and people who look to have less experience than you. You don’t know who can make that one introduction you need.
If you don’t connect with someone and something feels off, just move on and don’t dwell on it.
Don’t Expect an Immediate Response
In fact, don’t expect any response. Fans of the “Friends” show might remember when Rachel was newly unemployed and ran into a former coworker who immediately offered her a job in Paris. It would be fantastic if networking worked this way in real life, but sadly this isn’t what it is like. You will be building ongoing relationships for months before one of these relationships leads to an actual job. That’s okay!
It takes some time to build trust and to make your abilities known. The only problem you have is the image in your head of how it should be. Go in without any expectations, and disappointment will not greet you.
Networking events will not lead to a job the next day, but they will give you connections. Connections that will put you ahead of your coworkers.
People who have been in this industry for a long time can immediately tell apart the genuine from the fake. So, your best bet is to speak truthfully about your work, your motivations, and what you hope to gain from the profession. Don’t act like the ideal actor character you’ve created in your head, instead be who you really are. Chances are, people will pick up on your genuineness and that will leave an impression.
If you lie about your experience in Hollywood, professionals will find out immediately and it will destroy your reputation.
Prior to the event, make sure that all the information about you online and on social media is up-to-date and accurate, your digital brand matches you and your headshots are new. If someone takes a liking to you, but the resume you have online is old and doesn’t include everything that will immediately put them off.
Networking seems easy at first, but there is so much more to it than shoving your business card down the other person’s throat.
It includes minor details and actions that might or might not get you that connection. Follow these tips, and your networking is sure to be a success. Los Angeles is full of people looking for the perfect person for the one role, or have a director friend looking for someone to fill some role, and networking will help you find these opportunities easily.
Never take an invitation to an event, a dinner, or a party lightly, and always try to find out who will be there. Be prepared but also enjoy the process; networking is one of the most fun parts of the industry. It is also vital for an actor’s career. So many of my friends in the industry have gotten major roles by a word from people they met somewhere. Then what are you waiting for? Get your evening gown on and hit the town with your business cards.
P.S. Check out the “Free Headshot” Actors Networking Event organized by Stepanyan Photography.