Tips from casting directors for how to successfully network yourself as an actor and get connections in acting
In the performing arts industry, who you know can be just as important as what you know. Casting directors have fantastic memories and will keep actors they’ve met in mind for future roles. Anyone you’ve worked with previously could recommend you for future productions they’re involved in – you never know when the relationships you’ve built along the way will help you get a role.
We asked casting directors what advice they would share with actors who are looking to network. These are their top tips:
Don’t Just Talk About Acting
There’s a fine balance when it comes to networking. You want to be memorable to other actors and casting professionals, but you also don’t want to come off as networking with them purely for the benefits it may bring you in the future. So when you’re meeting people at events and workshops, don’t just talk about acting and the industry. Amanda Lenker Doyle CSA says, “I like to just meet people and get to know the person as a person, and not necessarily as an actor.”
If you talk about things outside of your career, you’re more likely to form a meaningful connection over a shared interest. Who would you remember more and want to work with in the future: someone who told you about all the roles they want to play, or the person who had the same love for a hobby or interest as you did? If nothing else, when thinking back on the event, they’ll remember you as the ‘crochet-loving person’ instead of ‘Actor #42’.
Jeanne McCarthy CSA agrees, saying, “I like to really be able to connect with somebody in a genuine way. Not in an actory way.”
As actors, it’s second-nature for us to transform ourselves into other people for the sake of a role. It may be tempting to do this for the sake of networking as well. We think casting directors are looking to interact with professional individuals who conduct themselves in a certain way, but this isn’t true. Casting directors want actors to be themselves.
Andy Brierley CDG says, “I think any interaction with a casting director benefits from a real person being there rather than someone just trying to put on a professional appearance.” Likewise, Patricia Vasconcelos believes, “[It’s] the most important thing: just be yourself.”
Authentic connections come from those behaving in an authentic way, so don’t worry about what you think the casting director wants to see. Just be who you are and have the conversation you want to have with them.
Even if putting on a certain persona did impress those you’re networking with, you’ve now committed yourself to having to act that way in their presence for the rest of your career, which will be exhausting in the long run.
As Amy Hubbard CDG says: “The key to [networking] is just to be yourself.”
Don’t be Nervous
Actors network because they want to make meaningful connections in the industry, and casting directors network because they’re always looking to fill the roles they’re casting for. Everyone is keen and excited to meet and talk to everyone else, so remember that if you’re feeling nervous or want to be less awkward when networking.
Chances are that the other actors you speak to may be feeling just as nervous as you are, so be friendly, ask them about themselves to put them at ease, and soon you’ll be talking like old friends.
Finally, don’t forget that while you’re networking and making connections for yourself, other people will also be looking to make connections with you. So ensure you’re giving as well as taking from a networking event, and be nice to everyone you meet. You never know where, or who, your next role will come from.
Find out more about how to fight the fear of networking.
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