Networking can be very beneficial to growing your business, but it’s so much more than just introducing yourself to people. It’s more than just the “hello” – what happens after the “hello” is what makes the difference to your business. Successful networking is about how you nurture the relationship and what you bring to the table. If you don’t network with the contact’s needs in mind, your networking won’t grow your business.
Here are the steps to successful networking:
1. You MUST see yourself as a RESOURCE for helping people. As a voice over artist/actor, we help bring our client’s message to life – help them sell or persuade or tell what needs to be told! Potential clients will know if you are just out for yourself. You will find networking has everything to do with your approach – so approach potential clients as if you are a resource for them to use.
2. Find places (in person and online) that have a concentration of people that might hire you! Attend events/conferences in your niche/genre – like an Audiobook Publisher’s Conference or an eLearning Conference. Join professional organizations like the American Marketing Association, Ad Federation or Association of Women in Communication. Online, you can search by hash tags (#VO, #voiceover) to find voice over groups that may include casting directors and creative directors. Join voice over groups on LinkedIn. Engage in conversations by adding thoughtful insights or questions.
3. Be fearless – without being creepy or pushy. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you do! If you see someone next to you at Starbucks that is working on a website, hand them your card…who knows? They might need a voice to go along with that website. You should never be without a business card or an “elevator pitch” – a 15 to 20 second persuasive speech that sparks interest in what you do. It is also helpful to always carry a flash drive with your demos on it – just in case. You never know if you might meet an animator/producer for “My Little Pony” at your child’s school fundraiser (don’t laugh, it happened to me!)
4. Follow up! Once you have made a contact it means nothing without following up with them. Shoot them a quick email within a day to say it was great to meet them. If you come across an article on Huff Post (or elsewhere) that relates to their business, send it to them and say you thought they might find it interesting. If they have the ability to hire you for voice over work, send them a link to your demos and let them know if they have any clients that your voice might be a resource for, you look forward to working with them. Keep following up – put a reminder in your calendar to touch base with your new contact on a regular basis.
You are beginning a relationship with everyone you network with. Know that it might take years before an opportunity opens up for them to use you, but if you continue to nurture the relationship, it could blossom into a lucrative client.
Jillian Nielsen is an expressive voice talent with over 14 years of experience in radio and television commercial and promotional voice-overs. You can reach her at voicebyjillian.com.