For a voice over freelancer, networking can be the cheapest, strongest and most effective way to grow your career and business, yet 90% of voice over actors do not get to maximise the full potential of networking the way they want or need it.
We plan almost everything especially when it comes to managing our career and life – business plan, financial plan, marketing plan, life plan – we have all these systems in place, however we tend to forget creating a specific networking plan within our marketing structure.
What is networking?
Networking is interacting and connecting with other people in and around the industry to exchange information and develop contacts, in order to further your career.
Most voice overs do not give this a second thought as they feel it would happen organically as they grow into the business. However, if we would take the information technology definition of networking – design, construct and manage, as part of how we define career networking it will help us create a stronger voice over network that would eventually not just balloon our list of contacts, but also our work opportunities.
All voice over actors would like to widen their network in the industry, but rather than wait for those contacts to fall on your lap, you need to create a networking plan that you can start today. It is not about trying to sell your voice (and yourself) right there and then, but it is the partnering, helping and building relationships that make a stronger voice over partnership.
Trust – Building relationships and rapport
It doesn’t mean that when a person knows what you do, they would be able to immediately pass you opportunities. Building a relationship and rapport is important in creating a strong network. Trust should be established before anyone can do anything for you or give anything to you.
People may know you are a voice over actor, that you have been in the industry for X number of years, that you have been the voice of XYZ company, but that won’t make a person promote you. What would make someone spread the word about you is if they like you.
When you build trust, you turn on the person’s listening ears, they become interested and make them want to help you. And it all begins with a conversation.
Knowledge – Building an understanding of what you do and how you do it
When you have started the conversation and build rapport to gain someone’s interest it is time to talk business. Some voice over talents are trained to do an elevator pitch, but what you really just need to share is the What, When and HOW of your voice career – emphasis on HOW. If you just tell people what you do, you are no different to any other voice talent. You need to instill in your contacts what makes you distinct from all the rest of the voice talents – how versatile you are, how credible you are, how reliable. A list of accomplishments is great, but everybody loves a good story. Share something that makes you stand out from all the rest, what makes you memorable.
And when you are building your network, it is not just about you and your work, it is also about the other person. Gain more information about your contact. Ask them, “Tell me more about you.” Learning more about the other person will help you gauge if the person is a viable contact as interest works both ways. You can then figure out if and how you can partner up.
Match – Getting and partnering with the right contact
With the knowledge you have shared, and the knowledge you have gained about the other person you would be able to figure out if the interest is mutual. It is not enough that the person is an industry leader, a producer, an agent, or an online influencer, you should be able to find a common ground and find out how you can build a strong partnership that would be beneficial to you both.
Don’t just think what the person can do for you, but also what you can do for them. A strong voice over network is being able to provide mutual benefits – you getting referrals or work opportunities, in return you provide your services, share their website, write an article, etc. If you have found the right contact, it would be easy for you to start designing your partnership.
Evaluate – Improve the quality of your network
Regularly evaluate the results of your partnership with your network. Are you getting the right work opportunities? Are you getting the promotion or shares you need and expected?
If you find yourself not getting the business you were hoping for, it may either be that the information you have provided about yourself and work is not sufficient enough for your partner to “sell” you to the right work opportunities, or there is current a mismatch with your contact. Invest some time with your network for you to be able to regroup, re-inform and redesign.
Thanks – Thank your partners the right way
Though you have a created a mutual benefit network, it still makes sense to be grateful. But are you thanking your partners in the right way or are you killing the cycle by making a lazy effort of thanking them?
Thank your contacts with something that is of interest to them. Knowing the best way to thank your partner will come easy if you have truly built rapport and took into heart the information they have shared along the way. Thanking your contacts the right way can build more trust, your relationship is further enhanced and they become motivated to help you even more.
If you always think with abundance, you are more likely to have more opportunities than you can cope with. But for example you are building a small niche in the market and wish not to network for fear that others may take opportunities away from you – this narrow way of thinking will also ensure that you won’t get the number of opportunities that you want and need.
Invest some time to explore your networking possibilities and you may not only end up with countless work opportunities, but also a strong community who can support you as you build and grow your voice over career.