How To Network As A Voice Over
BUSINESS - Rather Than An Employee
January 26, 2017
By Gerald Griffith
Executive Producer, VO Atlanta Voiceover Conference
Whether online or off, the idea of networking with others is a good one. However, there are some basic mistakes people make on a regular basis that hinder their efforts and cause them to fall well short of their desire to find new opportunities or long-term business relationships.
In this article, we’ll explore the need for you to develop an Entrepreneur’s Mindset.
For starters, let’s talk about what networking is.
According to Wikipedia, Networking is defined as:
"Networking is a socioeconomic business activity which business people and Entrepreneur’s meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures."It goes on to define a Business Network as a type of business social network that is developed to help business people connect with other managers and entrepreneurs to further each others' business interests by forming mutually beneficial business relationships.
NOT ABOUT 'JOBS'
Please note that there’s no place in either definition where the term or phrase, "finding a job” is mentioned.
However, in both cases, we see the word "Relationships.”
From this, we can draw the conclusion that networking is very different from prospecting for jobs, which are what many talent find themselves doing.
The failure to understand the very premise of the purpose of networking is the heart of this problem. In my role as Executive Producer for an annual conference for voice actors (VO Atlanta), I’m regularly asked if there will be people at the conference who can give them a job.
More commonly, I’m asked about the number of agents expected at the conference - as if an agent’s presence greatly increases their odds of gaining representation and thus a ‘job.’
YOU'RE A BUSINESS, NOT EMPLOYEE
The person seeking a ‘job’ is stuck in the position of an employee who expects others to do the work of providing the work they do. This isn’t uncommon, or unexpected, as most of us grow up being taught to do well in school, get good grades, and play nice because we want to position ourselves to ‘get a good job.’
This mindset carries over into the world of voice over (Entrepreneurship), where it creates some serious issues.
I recall opening sessions at my office here in Atlanta for people taking the "Introduction to Voiceover” training session.
Before turning the session over to their trainer, I’d ask how many people were there for the "Small Business Class” There would be confused looks in the room because they didn’t understand the question.
I’d pause for a moment and ask, "Who’s here for the Introduction to Voiceover session?”
All the hands would go up in the room.
After a brief pause, I’d ask if they knew that I asked them the same question twice.
It was at that moment that we had a discussion about the fact that becoming a voice actor meant becoming a small business owner, and their need to have an Entrepreneur’s Mindset.
APPROACH TO NETWORKING CHANGES
When you’re the small business owner, i.e. The Entrepreneur, you have to develop Entrepreneur’s Mindset that replaces the Employee Mindset, which expects others to do the work of generating the work you do.
Once this is done, the entire approach towards networking will change.
The approach will shift from what someone can do for you, to understanding what opportunities exist between you and others who will benefit from your common business interest.
You will begin to seek out meaningful relationships versus trying to see how many business cards you can pass out in a 5-minute span of time.
WHAT DO PROSPECTS NEED?
An agent shared with me his experiences of attending events where voice over talents would talk for 10 minutes without ever asking what the agent or agency needed.
The entire talk was about the voice talent, and why they should be signed to the agent's roster.
That mindset was all wrong.
The talent were looking for jobs. They had an employee mindset, which too often smells of neediness and desperation.
The Entrepreneur’s Mindset would focus on understanding the needs of the agent or agency, and then to craft a very specific message that speaks to why they might be an ideal candidate.
If no such opportunity exists, it’s okay to move on, after offering to help refer anyone you may know who might be a good fit for their communicated needs.
THREAD THE COMMON ELEMENTS
'Threads' is another concept to help your your networking efforts.
A thread is a common common element existing between two or more parties. While these threads may connect around a profession, it’s best that they extend well beyond a mere business connection.
An example of threads may be:
You will be remembered much more for the fact that you attended the same college than for the cool new business card with the big microphone you just purchased prior to the event with the VistaPrint markings on the back.
SEEK MUTUAL BENEFITS
The Entrepreneur’s Mind is one that’s developed over time and is constantly looking for ways to improve and evolve.
When networking, The Entrepreneur’s Mindset seeks ways to develop mutually beneficial business relationships.
And beyond all the talk of business and business interest, remember to be a good and decent human being. Respect the space and time of others. Be courteous. Be kind.
Who knows: you may just discover that those you’re networking with appreciate the fact that you’re a person they would love to work with - and will go out of their way to create an opportunity just for you.
Gerald Griffith is the Executive Producer of The VO Atlanta Voiceover Conference, started in 2013, which takes place each March and attracts members of the voice acting community from more than 40 states and over a dozen countries. This year's conference, March 9-12, offers an expanded array of voice over training sessions and panels, networking opportunities, social events, and a Spanish and Youth Program.
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