Friday, November 20, 2009

Are You Pushy or are you Networking?

Friday musings...

Many singers and performers I talk with are concerned about this fine line - and what is this fine line between networking and keeping your name out there and being pushy and overbearing and getting in your own way?

First, no one is going to know you or hire you and pay attention to you if you don't put yourself out there. Nobody is getting jobs or acknowledgement sitting in their apartments wishing they were working!!! You gotta get out there! You gotta put yourself out there!!

You have to been seen, and you have to follow up. Our business and our world is small - there are less than 6 degrees of separation! We have to be willing to be accessible and available and follow through and follow up.

Accessible and available does not mean in your face. In your face is pushy and annoying. Pushy and annoying is dismissed and you've become a liability to your career, not an asset.

So how do you find the balance between too much and too little? How do you get noticed and recognized and keep your name/face in the minds of those who should know you without being a pain in the ass?

First and foremost, when you are auditioning, BE PREPARED!!!!!!!!!! If you don't have the goods, you aren't going to get as far as you hoped! Know what you have to offer and be honest about it and develop it and present it.

Follow up. ALWAYS follow up. Send an email or postcard with your headshot on it to thank the CD/GD/AD for the audition - attach your headshot to your email so they SEE you again. Keep the message short and sweet. We are a visual and language business. Keep that in mind!

Get out of your apartment for more than auditions!!!! Invest in workshops, seminars, classes to meet other performers and professionals in the business. We all talk to each other!!

Be approachable. Introduce yourself. Don't be shy!!! Even if you ARE shy, you cannot be when you are networking! BE AN ACTOR!!!

Make sure you have a business card at all times! You never know who you will meet and where! Having something tangible to hand to someone keeps you in their consciousness.

The art of networking is truly learning how to be approachable, and how to follow up.

When you meet new actors, a teacher, a director, an agent, a casting director, a composer, a conductor, ANYONE through a class/workshop, at a show, at a party - FOLLOW UP. Sending a quick email within a few days to say "great to meet you and chat the other night" and attach your headshot is an important way of keeping YOU out there. If you spoke about something specific, then mention that. "great to get your input on the new show blah blah " or whatever you spoke about.

Pushy is "great to meet you, and oh btw, do you know of any great roles I could audition for through your casting agency?" !!!! And pushy is sending email after email after email. Not good.

Networking is "great to meet you and thank you for the lesson/seminar/etc and I look forward to seeing you again - and perhaps auditioning for you soon." One email is fine.

(as examples)

If you are doing a showcase, have new work on your resume etc, sending out an email to "check in" and "update" someone you have met and may want to audition for etc is FINE! Again, it keeps your name and face in their consciousness!

The nature of this business is out of sight out of mind - so it is UP TO YOU to keep YOU in the minds of the people who can be allies for you as you build and sustain your career!!

Sometimes you just have to ASK. Again, if you ask and you are ignored or told no, then take that and stop! Pushy is ignoring the "no". Pushy shuts the door on you. We want to keep the doors unlocked and POSSIBLE.

Do not allow your possibilities to become "absolutely nots" because you confused your networking with your pushiness! Networking is a skill and it must be learned. Learn it!!!

I have always said, if you ask the worse thing that can happen is that you get no response. Even a "no" gives you a clarification! Often when we think there's no chance, and we ask, a possibility emerges!

Ask, don't demand. Always ask "is it possible?" It allows for conversation and response from the one you are asking, instead of shutting off and creating a wall. If you are approachable and responsive and flexible you have a better chance to get that from the person you are asking!

Recognize who is in your immediate business circle and use their expertise and experience and connections too! Your teachers, coaches, pianists, can all be willing to help you if you ask!!!!

Don't HESITATE!!! Learn HOW to promote yourself. Example: What if you are going to be in a city where there is a theatre company you would love to work for? If you aren't going to be there during a scheduled audition, why can't you email or call and ASK if there's anyway you could audition while you are in town? Even if this answer is no, you will have made a connection and they will have your resume and headshot and you can then follow up and ask if you could put on the mailing list for the next round of auditions. And what if the answer is yes???? IMAGINE IT!!

The business wants to see you are aware, and readily flexible, and willing to promote yourself and put yourself out there. The business is not for the hesitant, second-guessing or apologetic. Show some guts and some savvy and some creativity and get your name and your energy out there!! The business remembers that - and your name begins to ring a bell. That can lead to a meeting, an audition, an conversation, a job!!

You are your product. Don't apologize for it. Don't hide it. Get it out there!!! Get YOU out there! Don't push it - promote it! Ask, and accept with graciousness the answer the comes to you. Do not push.

Do something for your business each day - network and promote the business of you.

The development will grow and come back to you - be known as a great colleague and not as a pushy performer. The accessible and pliable will always find a place. The pushy may look like they are getting somewhere, but that place ends in nowhere very quickly!

Follow up, discover, stay creative and fresh, and ask!

happy weekend!


  1. Great post, Susan!
    I manage my own concerts. Very surprisingly, even though I've heard "no" before, it is usually possible to get on a list for the future. And I've only encountered rudeness on the phone once!

  2. I tried to respond to this great post, and ended up with so much to say that it grew from a desire to comment into a post for my own blog. See how one person putting ideas out there makes the world grow!

    Basically, however, it touched home for me, because my fear of being too pushy caused me to withdraw altogether, which I don't think was the best response to the challenge of how to connect with others in one's field of interest.