Everything you thought you knew about networking at audiobook events is wrong and is easier than you think.
The audiobook community is a vibrant one. It’s a tight-knit group, but is always welcoming of those who are serious about the craft and the business. There are lots of audiobook events specifically for audiobook narrators.
What are some of these audiobook events? The Audio Publishers Association holds mixers all around the country at various times of the year. There’s one in LA, NYC, the Midwest, and Seattle. Plus, there’s The Audio Publishers Association Conference everywhere in NYC that is bookended with even more mixers and parties!
And success in the audiobook industry is linked directly to these events. Why? Because audiobook narration is not voice-over. It’s old-school New York publishing: Shake hands, buy a drink, and share a steak with conversation about the Yankees. Human interaction. So you really need to do these audiobook events and get to know the movers and shakers in the business.
But we’re also introverts. I consult with a lot of people who get sweaty palms thinking about networking and elevator pitches and not saying something stupid to the president of Penguin Random House. They freak out and they come up with some reason not to go or if they DO go, then they don’t get the full experience and value because they hung out in the back like a wallflower.
So here’s my advice to make these audiobook events much easier for someone who sits in a box all day talking to themselves. And some of it is NOT what you think:
- Bring business cards. But don’t hand them out. You’re not a business card vending machine. If someone asks for them, sure, hand them one. Be prepared for that, but don’t blindly hand them to everyone after you have 3 minutes of small talk about the weather. No one typically gets hired from a business card.
- Don’t network. I can hear you saying it now: “But Jeff, you idiot, these are networking events!” That’s true, but most of us are introverts and we freak out by the prospect of “networking.” You’re not there to network, you’re there to make friends. Knowing that changes the dynamic and changes what you talk about.
- Don’t talk about audiobooks. Okay, now I’ve totally freaked some of you out. It’s an audiobook event! Shouldn’t I talk about audiobooks? No. Because that’s what everyone else is talking about! Be the person who talks about something else. Everyone should read How to Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. You’ll learn that you should talk about things that are interesting to the other person. So know your audience and do a bit of research ahead of time on who you know is going to be there and what they are interested in. Know that the casting director of XYZ Publisher likes cats and tiny houses? Then research that ahead of time and talk to them about cats and tiny houses! How do you know they like cats and tiny houses? You’d be surprised at what people divulge on social media… Be the person who isn’t always talking about audiobooks. Be the person who is trying to make a real human connection. This is classic Carnegie: If you stand there for 10 minutes and the person you are talking to regales you with discussions about things THEY are interested in, you will walk away with them thinking you are a sparkling conversationalist. And your job is easier, because they are doing the talking!
- Don’t try to juggle too much. That’s not a euphemism for time management. That literally means don’t have too much stuff in your hand. Look, I get it. The crab cakes look amazing and they can only be washed down with a rum and coke. But these audiobook events tend be standing affairs and if you do that, then your hands will be full. Forego shoving free apps into your mouth and leave a hand free for shaking. Plus you won’t look like a pig. Speaking of which, these are appetizers, not your only meal after being let out of prison. If you’re hungry, eat beforehand.
- Dress nicely, but don’t overdo it. Unless you’re going to the Audies, business casual is fine. A suit and tie is rarely necessary, but feel free to iron that shirt of yours that’s been sitting in the bottom of the hamper. Remember, you’re not trying to impress, you’re trying to make friends.
- Don’t get drunk. Seriously, do I need to explain this? It’s not a fraternity party.
- Don’t make it a point to talk to casting directors. Okay, that was clickbait, sorry. Yes, you want to talk to casting directors, but don’t ONLY talk to them. You want to have as many friends in the business as you can and that means engineers, marketing people, and other narrators. Because everyone at some point is a casting director. If I’m not right for a title, then I can recommend someone who is. Who am I going to recommend? Someone I know and like and trust not to embarrass me.
- If it’s hosted, thank the host before you leave. I mean, after all, you didn’t HAVE to be invited.
Effective networking at audiobook events means doing less traditional networking and more just being yourself. Talk to everyone! Be a real human! It’s those kinds of connections that will eventually lead to more work and a more fulfilling career as a narrator.
Thanks for tuning into our content! There’s always VO conversations happening out there that are dying for a voice like yours to participate, so what are you waiting for? Join the conversation to see what voice talents are saying.
About the Author
Jeffrey Kafer is a full-time SAG-AFTRA audiobook narrator and consultant. He has narrated over 500 books in almost every genre for such authors Clive Barker, Steve Alten, Maya Banks, Gregg Olsen and many others. He has 2 degrees in cinema and broadcasting and spent the first part of his career as a video game tester for Microsoft before following his true passion of acting. He’s been on stage since he was 13 (his mom still has the bellhop costume she made) and currently lives in Los Angeles with his family and dog. Visit him at http://audiobookmentor.com or checkout his audiobooks at http://audible.com/