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Marketing: Network Your
Way To More VO Jobs
 
By James A. Early
 
Networking is a big buzzword in business these days. But what exactly is networking? And how can it help your voice-over business?
 
Here's a dictionary definition:
 
A system whereby persons having common interests or concerns assist each other, as in the exchange of information or the development of professional contacts.
 
And that's it exactly. Networking is all about building relationships.
 
Yet remember that a relationship is a two-way street. You must be interested in someone else's business and be willing to help them, just as you hope they will help you.
 
For example, I was referred to a voice-over agency to which I then sent my demo. The next week, one of my clients needed a Hispanic male voice. I called the agency to see if they could meet that need. They could, so I sent the referral. This networking helped both my client and the agency.
 
WAYS TO NETWORK
 
There are many ways to network. For instance:
  • Word of mouth. Talk to (almost) everyone you know and meet
  • Know what's going on in your community, and get involved
  • Attend networking and entrepreneurial events, such as Mca-i.org (Media Communications Association International), ad clubs, creative groups, and busines networking groups
  • Online networking groups, such as meetup.com and linked.com
'NOW WHAT DO I DO?'
 
OK, but what should you do when you're at a networking event, and talking about yourself? Prepare, and try this ...

1. Always have marketing materials with you! Never forget your business cards.

2. Be clear about the type of contact you want to meet. For instance: someone in the industry, or a business that might hire you directly.

3. Use your intuition. Just be interested in people. You might strike up a conversation with a person who doesn't need VO work now, but who knows someone else who does.

4. Act like a host rather than a guest. Greet people as they arrive, even if you are new there yourself.

5. Always learn about other people and their businesses first. Your can't help them if you don't understand their needs. Listen and ask the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when, why. You have two ears and one mouth - listen at least twice as much as you speak.

6. Be able to describe who you are - and what you do - in 60 seconds or less.

7. Spend 10 minutes or less with each person you meet (allow rare exceptions). Don't linger with friends and associates. You didn't attend the event to socialize with people you already know.

8. Look for opportunities to solve other people's problems. This is remembered and appreciated. Give referrals when possible - maybe your new acquaintance needs a good plumber.

9. Exchange business cards with people you want to contact later. On the backs of their cards, write notes about how you want to follow up (send demo, mp3, etc.). Also note the conversation location and best time for the next contact. Write the person's needs on the card, too - whatever it takes to remember the person.

THEN FOLLOW UP!
 
MOST IMPORTANT: Follow up every contact!
 
Send your demos, MP3s and emails. Make those phone calls as soon as possible, or when the contact has requested you to call. Enter all info into your database and market as you would to any other contact.
 
Networking is a great way to build your voice-over business. Meeting someone face-to-face can often break the ice better than by phone. And it can be the start of a good relationship.
 
Of course, networking is just one slice of the marketing pie. But it can be an important one when combined with all your other marketing efforts.
 
James A. Early is a voice-over talent and a "storyteller at heart." In addition to networking, he loves to read books to his children - which is how he became interested in voice-overs.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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