G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock.com

Networking has never been easy for a lot of actors, and truly productive networking can be a bit of a science. This year, a lot of actors have chosen to check out of networking completely.

You are the CEO of your career more than ever. It’s not enough to train, shoot headshots and hope for the best. Do those things, but also do new things. We can’t all meet up in person and talk about ourselves and our projects. You’re going to need to think outside the box, and probably outside of your comfort zone to get this done.

Believe it or not, networking just got easier for actors living in some of the smaller markets around the country. Since we’re all forced to do most of our networking online, it makes no difference where you live.

Social media is no longer optional. You are going to need it, and you are going to need to do it well. Only a thorough approach is going to be effective—some people are all over Facebook, while others have moved on to Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. That’s fine—to each his own. Create professional profiles on all sites. Visit them regularly with updates.

It’s not about which sites you like, it’s about which sites we like. If you’re not on Twitter but we are, you lose. Same thing for Facebook. There’s this gradual movement away from Facebook. Is it because casting directors and agents aren’t up there? No. It’s not as “cool” as it used to be, so people are leaving. You are making your competition’s job easier. I have become a fan of many actors without ever meeting them. I look for talent in many places. Social media, emails, referrals, and any other clever way you can come up with.

Invite people to attend a virtual film festival with you. You won’t be in the same room, but you can still speak afterwards about the films you’ve seen. This would be an excellent way to add new people to your networking circle, which is a very important component to this plan. So many people are standing still this year. Any progress you can make, from any city in the country, will improve your networking base.

Become a Zoom master! Everyone is doing it. Don’t just sign up and wait for something to happen. Maximize your Zoom experience. Attend any meetings you are invited to by friends and colleagues. But don’t stop there—set up meetings as well. Host Zoom meetings and invite friends and industry to attend. Come up with some interesting topics. Learn as much as you can and share what you learn.

As things start to open up, hit the ground running. Get together, safely, with contacts new and old. I sat down with a friend and we tried to be as safe as possible. We took separate cars, bought our coffees, sat about 6 feet apart. Wore masks the whole time, except to sip. Sounds a bit impersonal, but it’s that or wait another full year, or run a high risk of getting sick.

You can do the same thing with small groups of people as you start to consider creating your own content again. Research what the networks and studios are doing to shoot safely, and model your shoot after theirs. So many people are NOT shooting that the ones that do will have a much better chance of being seen. Just be careful.

Perhaps the most important element to all of this is cross-networking. Promote your Zoom meeting on Facebook and Twitter. Talk about your Facebook and Twitter news in your Zoom meetings. And always promote any content you create EVERYWHERE! You can post it on YouTube, then share links to what you have on YouTube on all other social media. This is why you MUST be on all sites.

If you’re doing just the things you were doing a year ago, it probably isn’t enough. Stay open to new things. No one knows what this business is going to be like in 2021 and beyond. An open mind will help with networking and everything else.

 


Written by Mark Sikes

Mark Sikes has cast over 100 films as well as television, commercials and voice-over. He recently published the book, Hollywood Made Simple, which outlines a simple approach to Hollywood for actors.