So you've heard the saying ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ many times before. And while it seems like a jaded quote, it's actually one of the keys to becoming a successful actor. Because networking is almost as important as your acting portfolio when it comes to booking your next role.
How do I benefit from networking with other actors?
Now, this doesn't mean that you need to be best friends with Brad Pitt to score a lead role in a feature film, so don’t panic. It simply means is that you need to get your face out there... and meet people! You could come across directors who are looking for new faces to star in their next movie, or you may even run into an up-and-coming actor who is writing their first short film. It doesn't matter who you meet, just as long as you're positive, friendly and make a lasting impression.
Taking every opportunity to meet people in the film and television industry isn't just beneficial when it comes to scoring possible acting roles, it's also a great way to make new friends. You'll also learn from the experiences of other people about the industry - who to meet, who to stay away from, people to work with, companies to avoid. Regardless of what you think you know, there's always someone who's done a little more, gone a little further and has something to teach you to help you advance not only as an actor but as a person.
How do I start networking as an actor?
Now you might be thinking "okay, great, I’m ready to start networking and getting myself out there... but how do I find these networking opportunities?
A lot of the time networking events within the industry are the best way to make new contacts.
The best way to find networking events is simply by being involved in acting classes. Enrol into acting courses with a well-established reputation like The Reel Scene and talk to fellow acting students. Follow drama schools in your city on social media, to keep up-to-date with what is happening throughout the year. For example, The Reel Scene have an annual Christmas networking event that anyone can purchase tickets to! Imagine having an opportunity to be in a room with hundreds of people from the entertainment industry! You’ll be mixing with agents, directors and of course other actors like yourself. The Reel Scene also have quarterly networking events that offer opportunities to network and meet directors, agents and other actors. To keep up-to-date be sure to follow our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter page. You can also contact The Reel Scene to request information on the next drop-in class or networking event.
How should I behave at networking events?
Producers, directors and agents are always on the lookout for new faces. They spend their working lives evaluating acting talent, looking for fresh and interesting people. That doesn't mean that you need to be the loudest person in the room, or wear the coolest outfit. You don't have to look like a model or be young and thin. This industry is full of talent of all ages, sizes and looks. But what you do need to be out open, outgoing and pleasant to be around.
Be yourself! Grab a drink, ease yourself into a conversation, say hello at the snack table, comment on an outrageous tie. Once you've started a conversation, you have a golden opportunity to not only talk about yourself but learn about someone else. And that's an important point - remember to listen. No-one likes a bore who only talks about themselves. You're an actor! You need to listen, think about what you've heard, and respond.
Be genuinely interested in the person you're talking to, and they'll pick up on that and with any luck, you'll end up with a business card or a future coffee date at the end of the chat.
What if no-one talks to me?
Now you may go to a networking event and not end up speaking to that big director in the room. Believe us when we tell you that that director will notice everyone in that room, and whether they speak to you or not, if they think that you have a look that could potentially work with their new project then they will most likely contact the right people to find out your details.
CEO of The Reel Scene, Alex Fidelski has had this happen multiple times at networking events. Don’t be discouraged if you don't come away from an event with a role in the next Marvel movie! If you've been friendly and positive and fun to be around... people will have noticed.
What should I do after a networking event?
While part of the networking process involves meeting people at events, it's almost as important to stay in touch. This can be a little awkward at first because you need to establish a relationship and have a reason to communicate regularly. Once you've started a professional relationship, you need to maintain it like any other! Meet regularly for coffee. Pass on opportunities you may have come across. Keep giving the other person a reason to want to stay in touch, and in turn, they'll keep you in mind when an opportunity arises that might suit you.
How else can I meet people in the industry?
Actors love... acting! And in order to act, actors need... other actors! So if you're trying to establish yourself and earn a good reputation in the industry, one of the most useful (and informative) things you can do is volunteer your time. Keep your ears open for projects, shoots, writing sessions and classes going on in your area and offer to help.
Volunteering could mean making coffee on a short film shoot, being an extra, or lending some technical skill you might have - proofreading a script, being a runner or AD, doing some editing, creating a logo.
Perhaps you've got a big social media following, so you could offer your Instagram skills to a production.
Maybe you have an uncle with a spooky old house in the country you could offer as a location. Be useful, and people will appreciate you, and as you become more involved in projects, your network of friends and contact will grow exponentially.
A networking success story
"I came to London a year ago as a beginning actor - and I'm 49! But I was determined to network and meet people. After the 2017 Christmas networking event, I started taking acting classes at The Reel Scene.
I volunteered my time and skills to anyone in the industry who needed it, and now a year later I'm amazed at where I am.
I've just starred in a short film. I've been 1st AD on another short film which led to an offer to be 2nd AD on a feature. I'm helping to record self-tapes and working on projects with actors from shows like The Inbetweeners and Doctor Who.
I have a project in development with Asa Butterfield. On top of that, I'm editing showreels, writing scenes for actors and have acting roles coming up in both London and Belgium.
And guess what - this was all through networking, I'm not even on Spotlight yet!
All I can say to you is, it doesn't matter who you are. Be nice to people, get out there, say YES, and network.. and anything is possible.
- Lucas Young"
To keep up to date or find out more about The Reel Scene networking events, follow us on our social media channels!