Your Networking Secret Weapon

Written by Dallas Travers, CEC

You’ve heard of the 30-second elevator pitch, right? It’s that shtick you memorize in case you get stuck in an elevator with Steven Spielberg or Michael Bay, so you’ll know exactly how to make a knock-your-socks-off first impression that will lead to your big break.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of trapping someone in an elevator and impressing him or her with my eloquence and passion in 30 seconds or less always felt inauthentic and pressure-filled.

If you agree, here’s an alternative that I think you’ll dig. I call it “Completing The Thought” and this simple three-part process will allow you to network without selling yourself or downplaying your career. Completing The Thought is your secret weapon at any networking event where you might feel awkward, nervous or insecure.

Before I illustrate how to apply this formula, let’s first redefine what networking means. Networking is not schmoozing or selling yourself. It’s not about shameless self-promotion either. Instead, networking is nothing more than cultivating relationships, and it requires more than just 30 seconds in an elevator.

So, how do you network like a real person instead of a robot? How do you make the most of networking opportunities when time is limited and you feel pressured to impress whomever it is you’re meeting?

Let me walk you through it…

STEP ONE: Who Are You?

Without over-explaining or apologizing, simply introduce yourself. You might say, “I’m Jessica, and I’m an actress.”

Pretty plain and simple, huh?

If you also write, produce or teach you might share that information as well. But be mindful of your motivation behind adding those extra hyphens after the word ‘actor’. I meet a lot of actors who fear that they haven’t booked enough work to warrant calling themselves actors. They’re afraid of being judged or feeling like they’re just not good enough. So, they hide out by introducing themselves as an actor who also teaches, an actor who also waits tables, or an actor who also writes and directs.

Being an actor is enough. And when you begin to truly own that, you’ll find that the people you meet will accept it as well. So, keep it simple and say, “I’m an actor.”

STEP TWO: What’s New?

After you’ve introduced yourself, it’s time to talk about what’s new. Just stick with the facts as mundane as they may seem. You don’t have to make anything up. You don’t have to list your entire resume. You don’t have to name drop. You definitely don’t have to downplay your career.

Just mention a class you’re taking or the project you just booked. If you haven’t worked in a while, say so. If you’re just focusing on training, cool. Talking about what’s really happening – big deal or small – will allow whomever you’re meeting to connect with the real you. Remember that in a networking situation you are there to build relationships and you can’t do that based on falsehoods or misinterpretations.

You might say, “I’m Jessica and I’m an actress. It’s been really slow this winter, but right now I’m taking a really fun improv class at UCB.”

Again… short and sweet.

Now, I know what you might be thinking here: “People don’t care about Improv classes. People only want to know about what I’ve booked. I don’t want people to think I’m an amateur because I’m just in class and haven’t booked in a while.”

Truth time, folks. People don’t want to meet your resume. They don’t care about what you’ve booked nearly as much as they care about connecting with you. That fear you feel about being judged only exists when you judge yourself. When you release judgment about your career, you’ll find that others will follow your lead.

So, talk about what’s really happening. You’re an actor pursuing your dream, which pretty much rules. So, own it, love it, work it.

STEP THREE: What Excites You?

The third and final piece to Completing The Thought brings the focus of the conversation on the future rather than the past. So, after you’ve shared what’s new in your career, it’s time to share what you’re really excited about. This moves the conversation’s trajectory toward the opportunities on your horizon and what you’re really passionate about instead of on what jobs you’ve done in the past.

So, Jessica might say, “I’m Jessica and I’m an actress. It’s been really slow this winter, but right now I’m taking a really fun improv class at UCB. I’m excited to start auditioning more so I can apply some of the techniques I’m learning.”

Shifting toward what you’re excited about will relieve you of the pressure or awkwardness you may feel while networking because you no longer have to prove your worth. Instead you simply get to talk about your future.

What a relief. Now instead of feeling pressured to impress someone in 30 seconds or less or pretending to be anyone other that who you really are, you can show up to any networking event feeling confident because you now know how to complete the thought.

 

Respected as one of the entertainment industry’s leading experts, Dallas Travers teaches actors the career and life skills often left out of traditional training programs. Her groundbreaking book, The Tao of Show Business, has won over five awards including first prizes at The Hollywood Book Festival and the London Festival along with the National Indie Excellence Award. She has helped thousands of actors to increase their auditions, produce their own projects, secure representation and book roles in film and television.

If you’re ready to jump-start your acting career, get your FREE Thriving Artist Starter kit now at http://www.dallastravers.com

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