I love being a coach for actors. Having spent 20 years in the business focusing my energy on creating a career in NYC, it means so much to help other people do the same thing. One of the first questions I hear from actors who are first arriving in NYC is, “How do I book more work?”
When you go to a lot of auditions, it can be easy to put more (or all, in some cases) of the emphasis on booking the job, but the most important thing we need to do in this business is focus on relationships. I know, I know... I always say that, but it's still true!
Unlike other businesses, show business, especially theatre, is all about the personal one-to-one connection. New Yorkers are cynical, and we have to trust the people we work with. How do you earn that trust? Over time and with consistency.
Now, don’t misconstrue my meaning, the goal is not to be liked and approved of (though we want to be thought of positively); the actual goal is to become known. Most of us already know the people we "need to know" in order to have the career we want to have, we just aren’t nurturing those relationships. If you spent more time nurturing your existing relationships instead of always trying to create new ones, you would be surprised to see what happens.
Here is an exercise to help you access the relationships you currently have and find new ways to build on them. You’ll want you to create a spreadsheet for this, because it’s important to track your progress and take it seriously. Scratch paper won’t do. ;-)
A hot list is everyone that knows you (yes, even your mother), people you could text or call today without surprise to them. These people know your humor, your story, and are on your team. This list is evergreen, meaning it’s always self-renewing and changing, so put it in the first column of your spreadsheet. You will always be adding to this list, but let’s just focus on where you are today.
This is a list of people that know you and your work professionally. You probably wouldn’t text them today, but an occasional email wouldn’t be strange. Maybe you performed in a one-night concert or a show with them years ago. They’ve called you back several times, or they booked you on a job years ago. You lost touch or life moved on, but regardless of where they are in their lives, you still have a warm relationship. Put these connections in the second column.
Go down the list of names in each column, and note the people you worked with professionally. If it helps, you can sort these professional friends together, or create a separate column if you want to write notes. Whether or not they are still in the business, make a distinction between Personal and Professional for each person.
Each professional person in your spreadsheet has a list of credits, people they’ve worked with, agents they work with, and more. Spend time each day doing homework on just one person.
Based on their resume, who do they know? Who have they worked with? What are they working on now? Add the names of their connections, creatives, or otherwise to a third column.
This spreadsheet is like Linkedin for Broadway. You now have a list of first and second connections within the industry. Take a step back to notice how many people you actually have within your circle. Everyone knows someone who can help you get to the next level wherever they are in their career.
Now, the task is to focus on nurturing relationships with the people you know, and it will naturally open doors to the people they know and so on, building up those first connections. If you needs some tips on how to reach out without freaking out, here are my top four ways to push through the fear and my tips on how to reconnectwith someone who hasn’t heard from you in awhile.
Let me know how your spreadsheet turns out, and if you have any questions about building relationships with your connections, either in the comments below or on Twitter at @bwaylifecoach.