“Take action every day. It doesn’t have to be dramatic action, but every day, stick with it. Spend time on things that make you proud, that stretch and strengthen you.” – Phillip Humbert
I’m pretty new to this making-it-alone thing, when you put it into perspective. I’m two years out of university, and while it’s felt like a long time, I’m aware that my readership isn’t just going to be people my age. Some of you may have been working in your respective field longer than I’ve been alive. And considering that my life’s the longest thing I’ve ever experienced so far, I salute you, old bean. Top form.
I recently guest blogged with Steven about the skills and practices required to juggle a ‘survival job’ and a ‘dream job’ (see archives) and Steven very kindly asked me to write a second guest blog on the importance that networking holds to creative individuals like ourselves.
I’ll be upfront and say it. All the performance work I’ve had since I left university has been solely booked from my own hard work and communications. I’ve not had an agent. Where I’ve been stuck, I’ve made my own work. It’s a fact about myself that I’m extremely proud of, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that without the tips I’m offering below, I’d not have had any of those jobs at all.
1. I stay in touch with my craft
If you are an actor, go to see other actors do their thing at the theatre. If you are a musician, go to a gig, or a concert. This can apply to absolutely anyone working in the creative industry. Odds are that, while you’re there, you’ll meet people who are interested in the same things as you.
From there, you’ll make friends – if not, you’ve at least made a connection. Take their business card with you, add them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. From there, you’ve opened yourself up to a whole new world belonging to a completely new person, and you can listen in on what they’re up to. Shows they’ve been to see. People they’ve met. Or, the most exciting one: projects or opportunities that they or one of their friends may need help with.
Staying in touch with your craft doesn’t just provide you with an opportunity to keep in touch with the people within your industry. It’s also vital for developing new skills that will improve your own skills as a creative. You’ll pick up new techniques, tips and tricks from other professionals – some of whom will have been in the industry much longer than you, or some may have just been to a workshop that you weren’t able to attend. There are many avenues to explore with this, once you know where and how to look. You can find a few of my favourite websites for doing just this at the bottom of the page.
2. I am courageous
If you see someone at an event whose work you admire, then go up to them and politely tell them. Of course, never pester celebrities or anyone who may look like it would be inappropriate to break the conversation, but odds are they’ll be flattered and may even offer you a little nugget of advice. The thing to remember here is that you’ll never know unless you ask. Just make sure you ask politely, assessing the situation appropriately, and you can’t go wrong.
If somebody invites you to something that’s new (and could potentially teach you something!) then don’t be afraid to go along. Take your creative and professional life with a pinch of sunny optimism and curiosity, and you’ll be sure to be learning something new every day.
3. I frequently use Social Media
Making creative and consistent use of Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Blog Lovin’ to name but a few!) is probably the best marketing tool that there is out there at the moment. The internet, bottom line, provides us with the opportunity to meet and discover new people and facts that it’s simply impossible to discover if we were to simply mosey through our lives in a near-catatonic state of ambivalence. Connecting with other industry professionals is a crucial element to being exposed to a range of exciting and new possibilities, and regularly checking in on your Twitter or Facebook is a sure-fire way to get involved with the industry in a low-maintenance but effective way.
If ever you feel frustrated by your lack of progress, then be safe and comfortable in the knowledge that you know, every day, that you are taking steps to make your life better (or the best it can be). Success doesn’t happen easily, or overnight. Otherwise, everyone would be successful beyond their wildest dreams!
Annie is a 23-year-old actor and writer based in West London.
After spending the first 18 years of her life in South Wales, Annie graduated from the London College of Music in 2011 with a 2:1 in Musical Theatre.
In the last year, Annie has been part of a team focusing on the social presence of Equity’s West and South West London Branch, has guest blogged for the mental health awareness charity ‘Mind’, and has recently dipped her toe into the world of vlogging.
Thanks to Annie for another great post!