One of the most important parts of this business other than talent is your network. In fact, in some cases who you know can actually out weigh talent. That is why, maintaining relationships are so important in this business. There are two types of relationships that you will have to maintain; people with whom you have already worked with on a project, and the people you have just recently met or been introduced to at an event.
All of these people are part of your network and you should have a spreadsheet or database containing their contact information. As a good habit, you should always keep in touch and maintain the relationships that you already have in the industry. Most likely you already do grab coffee on occasion with a previous co-star or director. If you worked with them as an actor, you have already developed an intimate relationship on set, so to continue to keep in touch feels very normal. These relationships are also your most important ones to maintain since these people are your references and will help you get work in the future.
As an actor or any artist, you should be attending networking events not only to stay active in your community, but also to meet fellow industry professionals. Now, don’t get nervous about the prospect of networking. I know it can sound daunting, but it is something you are probably already doing and you could use a little more finesse. These networking events can be anything from a film screening, to a breakfast hosted by industry professionals, to a friends game night with fellow industry players.
Disclosure: If you are at a social gathering with a lot of industry professionals you may have the opportunity to talk about your career and the industry. But, by all means DO NOT become that person that annoyingly uses every opportunity at a social gathering to talk about themselves and their career. Nobody likes insincerity and you will most likely not be invited the next time.
Relationships are formed and created. They do not come out of thin air just because you are in the same room at the same time. However, people do enjoy talking about common interests and creating relationships with people who have shared similarities. This is a great time in the conversation to get to know a person beyond their career endeavors and really connect. Of course if you organically start discussing the entertainment business during the conversation then by all means feel free to talk about your career or recent projects when prompted. For the relationships that are newly formed, it is important to reach out after meeting to make sure you do not lose the connection. Depending on the situation and circumstances on how you met, usually a follow up call or email will suffice. But, how do you follow up with a new acquaintance without seeming needy or like you are only interested in the relationship for career gains? In this case, definitely add a personal touch to the letter. Regardless, of whether you make plans for the future or how you met, you should always send an email acknowledging the introduction and noting something that was said in the conversation. For example, it could go something like this:
It was so nice to meet you the other night at the______. Congratulations on your current film and its success. I know we didn’t get a lot of time to talk, but I would really love to hear more about the upcoming projects you had mentioned. Are you available to grab a cup of coffee in the next week?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
The above would only be used if you actually did discuss the other person’s projects in depth and made a connection. On the flip side, if you want to be more personal and talk about the common interest or hobby you share go for it! An alternative letter could be;
It was so nice to meet you the other night at _____. Congratulations on ______ . I enjoyed our conversation, and it is always great to meet someone who shares an interest in hiking. I If you ever want to try out that trail I was telling you about just let me know and I will be happy to send you over the details.
Keep in touch and happy hiking!
Either one of these notes/emails can be used to start the ball rolling on a new relationship. If you have a monthly newsletter or your own success that you were not able to share initially, you could mention it in the letter casually as you would to any fellow peer (make sure to ask them if they would like to receive your monthly newsletter, since no one likes extra mail they won’t read in their inbox). In addition, it is also acceptable to update your contacts whenever you have a new project or accomplishment in your career. Sending those friendly postcards or hand written notes are a great way to update a contact, nurture a relationship, and make you be on the forefront of their mind. Now that you know how to keep in touch go look in your contacts and see who needs a friendly note and send one!
“Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that’s real power.”
– Clint Eastwood
(photo courtesy of www.unlimitedchoice.org)
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