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Marketing: The Old Fashioned Way ...
Face-to-Face Networking & Referrals
By Paul Payton
Voice Actor
July 22, 2010
Reading the recent articles and comments about an Internet-based scam makes me glad I work the old-fashioned way, making personal networking contacts either through live contact or referrals from others.
To do this, I work through networking groups attended by professionals who might hire me.
MCA-I (Media Communications Association-International), the former ITVA, has been my cornerstone for years. There are other good groups, of course, and some local chapters are more active than others. Check them out.
At these meetings, you SEE who you might be working with, and you get to know them as people - or at least you get a sense of them, and they of you.
I quickly became involved in chapter management, giving me an excuse to get the door open with people who might not have done so, had I only been a VO person "begging for work." But I digress ....
I've had only one job that has come through over the net; I googled the client, read his website thoroughly, had several lengthy telephone conversations with him, and judged him to be trustworthy before committing to the project.
My trust was well-placed, as there was no problem, either with the job or getting paid; this was especially good news since it was an international contact.
Following a friend's good advice, I asked for payment before delivery of the final product. I did a bunch of script doctoring first, which I sent for approval before payment.
The payment came in via PayPal and cleared immediately. Everything went well, and I anticipate repeat business.
I admire those of you who work over the Internet - in fact, I appreciate whatever succeeeds.
My website is up there, of course, and I announce my availablity in several other places, including here, but I believe that since I don't deal with "net only" clients, I have relatively few bad-payers and almost no outright liars.
I feel that working face-to-face or by referral, I've been scammed very few times in my more-than-two-decade-long career.
Like Maxine Dunn, I tend to go with my intuition, and like Joe Thomas, I too "trust but verify" (I'm no Reagan fan, but that may have been the wisest thing he said in his entire presidency, and I embrace it).
I should post a warning about something that happened early in my career from an unexpected source: I got stiffed by an agent!
Her bookkeeping was bizarre and byzantine, and more than once I had to "stand in her door" to get paid.
It was a long series of commercials for an ostensibly reliable client, although I had no idea the client was on its last legs (a large chain store whose foundation was crumbling).
After the last booking - which was indeed used on the air - I went to get my check, and the agent said,
"They went out of business, and their ad agency isn't paying me, so I'm not paying you."
When I compained that I'd heard the spot on the air, as had others, her comment was essentially, "Stuff happens. Suck it up."
Agonizingly, her listing still appears in Ross Reports>Backstage, which is why I'm not publishing her name here. Also, this happened close to 20 years ago, and while the sequence of events is painfully true, the details are being mercifully lost in the mists of time!
Needless to say, I wouldn't touch an audition - or even a job - from this person with someone else's hands!
All that said, I still love my career, and over the years, I've managed to "breed out" most of the abject jerks. Although now that I've said this, I'm sure a new jerk will crop up from somewhere!
Good luck to all,
Paul Payton is in his 23rd year of doing voice overs, overlapping with a 29-year radio career, mostly in New England, including co-founding WBRU’s rock format and working at Country 92.5 (WWYZ) while it was #1. “Howard Stern actually worked for me for three days when I was PD of WCCC in Hartford, CT,” Paul notes. His VO work concentrates on corporate communications, training, medical and commercials. After 39 years, he is also playing keyboards professionally again with Rob Carlson (, with whom he last played in Benefit Street. (The Rob Carlson Band plays at Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY, on Saturday, Aug. 14. Benefit Street’s original material has just been issued on Presence Records, which Paul produced; the full story is at
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Comments (4)
Liz de Nesnera - Bilingual English/French VO
8/15/2010 at 2:05 PM
How did I not see this till today???

Paul is one of the hardest working & most booked VO's I know, and one of the nicest !... and I've known him for almost 15 years!

He got me involved with MCA-I and for that I'm grateful.

He is the consummate in-person networker, and he & I often talk about the pros & cons of our varying styles of finding & getting VO work (I find most of my work online) .... but around these parts - that is the Mid-Atlantic & New England East Coast! - ask a studio who their go-to male VO's are & Paul's name invariably comes up!

I hope that MY VO career continues as long & as fruitfully as his has been!
Jim Conlan
7/23/2010 at 2:26 PM
I'm puzzled by the experience with your agent. The agent didn't hire you, they just booked you. Your beef was with the client.
Debbie Irwin
7/23/2010 at 2:25 PM
I'm in the throes of trying to get paid by a new client. I considered asking for the $$ upfront, in retrospect I should have asked for it before delivery ... but I am determined to "stand in their door" as you say, if need be.


Darla Middlebrook
7/23/2010 at 10:16 AM
Being new to voice over, I have not put myself "out there" for jobs, yet. Reading about the scam has, however, made me more than cautious.

My problem is that I live in a part of Canada where voice over work via face-to-face contacts almost does not exist. Local business cannot or does not budget for voice over actors. Corporate business here tends to hire talent from Vancouver or Toronto. They feel that anyone local has no talent. Some of the best local talent have been forced to move to those centers. They are then hired back to their home province. Ironic isn't it?

Though I appreciate and agree with Mr. Payton's point, Internet contacts will probably be the route that I must take until I can establish myself in the profession. Then I will most likely move to Vancouver or Toronto. Thus, compounding the irony.
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