Building a network is lengthy, and tough work. There are many components to it, and you need to consistently follow up with your connections and potential leads. Essentially, this is the ‘sales’ part of voice acting. But if you’re like me, you’re struggling to figure out where to begin. There’s so much information out there, and narrowing down the good information from bad information seems like a full-time job in itself…and very well could be.
But have no fear, it’s not as hard as it seems to appear.
Well…as long as you’re good at talking to people. And why shouldn’t you be? You’re a voice actor, so all you need to do is ACT, right? Exactly. Even if you’re feeling uncomfortable about talking to people, try getting into character and use the character as the catalyst to get you through phone calls and in-person meet-ups. Eventually, you will have had so much practice talking to people that you’ll barely notice any insecurities you’ve been harboring. Eventually, talking to people – or networking – will become first nature. Neat.
First let’s visualize our network as a tree. When you start off as a voice actor, it’s a sapling with few branches and shoots. Each branch can be considered a connection. That connection could have other branches that would fall under the original connection. Everytime you make a new connection, your tree grows branches. Like a young tree, you need to water it so that it grows. It’s the same with your connections. Once you make the connections, you need to water them so they grow. Follow-up regularly to see how they’re doing, if they need anything from you, or if they have any cool projects they want to talk about, or can talk about.
So where to begin. . .
Get by with a little help from your friends, and family.
Start with people you know, and that you’re comfortable with and then branch out from there. That’s where I started. I was nervous to tell people I was voice acting, for fear of being judged. So I reached out to people I knew wouldn’t judge me, my friends. They offered encouragement, and even started pointing me in the direction of people they knew looking for work. This was all great! Now my friends knew I was acting, but I still wasn’t bringing in jobs…so, I expanded my ‘network’ to another branch.
Hire a voice coach already.
When I started working with my voiceover coach, my sapling grew another branch. This has grown into a very sturdy branch with several new off-shoots. Working with my coach brought me to new networks that I wasn’t utilizing before. He helped me to grow my current networks, as well as my craft, which helped strengthen networks without having to talk to anyone. It was a noticeable difference from the before times, as I will call them, and the after times. Now that I have been working with my coach for a full year, I can see the exponential impact it has on my voice and subsequent networks.
Join social and professional networks.
Once you have a support system – friends, family, coach – you can start to put yourself out there. Consider this a soft opening if it helps. There are a few social networks that are open avenues for voice actors. For instance, get into the Reddit forums for voiceovers, these people are treasure troves of information. Test the waters for a while until you feel ready to start posting. This is a place where you can start making connections with other voice actors. There are newbies and professionals alike in these forums, and they all want to connect with people too. You can find specific communities that fit your tastes too. I personally am part of an audiobook community, where I am working to gain knowledge from those posting, and make connections with the pro’s of the community. This is an area that I want to eventually work in. I also want to work in animation, so I am part of some animation communities where you can talk to people who are working on their projects. Follow this recipe for all your interests, and make sure that you are active in these communities. Don’t just post once or twice and then disappear into the ether. Ask questions until you have the knowledge and experience to start answering questions, then become the expert you were looking for. Eventually, you need to join the professional networking groups. Just start off the same way you did in the social networks, ask questions and learn until you become the well that people go to for information.
As a side-note: Make sure that you have social media accounts and a website that brand you as a voice actor. It’s difficult to hire someone you can’t find.
Until next week, remember this is a large industry and we need to take care of each other.
Next week’s topic: Building a Voiceover Network (Part2)
- Social Media accounts
- Winning smile
- Audio Engineering Society (AES)
- Young-Professionals (STL has a network for young professionals, try to find something like this in your area)