Actors’ Advice

I picked up a free newspaper in a coffee shop once, and found the best career advice ever. It followed an article on how hard it was to find acting gigs. The article consisted of a simple sidebar with five simple questions. It went like this:

Are You Ready for Your Audition?

  1. Are your headshots up to date? Do they have your vital data and skills on the back?
  2. Are you working on your skills? Are you taking classes to polish your acting? Are you taking classes to add to your skills in dancing, stunts, singing and other areas that casting directors might want?
  3. Do you have an agent? If not, are you going to at least 5 auditions a week? Are you getting out there enough?
  4. Do you have a book of clips and reviews? Do people know your reputation?
  5. Are you keeping in touch with your teachers? Are you thanking them for getting you started? Are you working with them to help teach the next generation?

Then, somewhat ominously I thought, it ended:

If you are not doing all these things, perhaps this is not the profession for you.

Well, I have never had ambitions to be an actor but I cut that article out and put it on my fridge, where it stayed for years. Substitute your profession for actor, and edit slightly for current technology and I think you have a perfectly acceptable checklist for success. Not only for actors, but for freelancers, consultants and job-seekers alike.

For example, do you have a Web page? When I started out, I thought it would take a week to make a Web page. But then I realized that this was not just a mental post-office box for my business, but a chance to make a good first impression. The Web site took about four months to complete, and I still add to it religiously. It was worth it — last January a prospective client called me because he said the Web site, as he said, spoke to him. We completed a small project for his company in March.

One other word on Web sites: watch your sense of humor. At least that was advice given to me when I bought a photo to headline the “Team” page. This was the original photo I chose:

It appealed to the team members, but we recognized that clients might want something with a little more gravity.

If you don’t have a Web site, consider using LinkedIn, which is a mixture of a virtual resume and a personal contact list. It is a natural way to make more contacts, put content in front of prospective clients and employers and monitor the market. Importantly, it also appears safe — I have never received any spam or unsolicited e-mail from LinkedIn participants. LinkedIn could very well be a one-stop shop for completing your actor’s checklist.

Lastly, take a look at www.meetup.com for finding networking groups and classes in your area of expertise. Importantly, Not only can you visit a meetup group, you can start one.

Good luck on your auditions!

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