In this article, I’ll be talking about the importance of networking for your voice acting career. And, if you’re anything like me, your face is probably scrunching like a lemon right now, just thinking about it.
When I first got into this business, I envisioned those voice over conventions as being around hundreds of strangers, with my demo in hand and a fake smile on my face; aimlessly walking around, looking at other voice over people doing the exact same thing. But before I get into “perception vs. reality,” I think it’s important to understand why most of us voice folks would rather get a tooth pulled than network.
Countless studies have been done on people who fall into the “creative” category. As it turns out, most of us are introverts. Check out the earmarks of an introvert below, and see how many apply to you (excerpt, taken from the book: “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World that Can’t Stop Talking”, by Susan Cain):
- I prefer one-on-one conversation to group activities
- I enjoy solitude
- I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame and status
- I dislike small talk, but enjoy in depth conversations about things that matter to me
- People tell me that I’m a good listener
- I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions
- I do my best work on my own
- I often let calls go through to voicemail
- I can concentrate easily
Many of the qualities of the introvert would seem to be perfect for artists:
- Thinking deeply
- Happy working alone for long periods
- Capable of sustained concentration
- Sensitive to the world around us
Do you see yourself in any of these qualities? It’s important to understand who we are first, and why we may have an aversion to something, before we try to tackle it. Said another way, if you force yourself to go to a voice over convention, not knowing why you don’t want to go and feeling uncomfortable the whole time, the experience will be a waste of time and money.
Perception vs. Reality
My first voice over convention turned out to be an epiphany! I was like a kid in a candy store – running from one Sennheiser display to another, trying out microphones, filling my bag with pamphlets on mixers and portable booths. There were star-studded VO panels and break-out sessions. Best of all, I found my tribe: hundreds of folks who, just like me, would rather be home creating their vocal masterpieces!
Our thoughts about things are seldom the reality. Networking is not about convincing strangers to hire us for voice over jobs; it’s sharing, learning and relationship building. When we do these things, we are automatically “seen.” Try not to put the cart before the horse.
Don’t think: I’ve got to go to this convention to get voice work. Instead try, I’m going to have fun; see new studio products, learn about trends in my business and make friends. When you approach networking like this, the rest will take care of itself.
This strategy goes for all other networking opportunities as well! Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce, and philanthropic organizations like Rotary Club, or sponsor your local little league team.
Don’t expect offers for voice over work to come streaming in right away. Have patience. Relationship building takes time. I can pretty well guarantee you the first time your friends at the Chamber or Rotary need a voice actor, you are the one they will think of hiring!
By nature artists are sensitive souls; preferring to practice our craft and spend our time reflecting. And that’s okay – in fact it’s awesome! It’s what gives us the ability to create characters and give emotion to even the most stilted of copy. By looking at networking as a way to get to know people and build relationships, the whole process might seem more agreeable to you!
Websites like voiceovertimes.com is an excellent resource for all kinds of voice over conventions! Happy networking!
Nancy Wilson is a busy voice-over actor in Los Angeles and has trained with the legendary comedy group ‘The Groundlings’. She will be directing SAG/AFTRA’s Old Time Radio show, Gunsmoke. You can find her on Facebook and on her website: www.nancywilsonvo.com.