The holidays can be awkward, or you can make them into a huge opportunity by using this time as a platform to network. Most actors take a break or think of this time of year as slow. I say NOW is the time to ramp it up!
The holidays are here now and seem to come earlier every year! For some the dread is starting to set in. And no, I’m not talking about the awkward family gatherings with your fruitcake-wielding in-laws or being relegated to the kids table for a meal you’ve waited a year for.
For many of us, the real terror surrounds holiday networking. So if you’re currently stressing over whether you’re going to look like an idiot wearing a Santa hat or whether it’s appropriate to talk about your acting career at all, you’re not alone.
Oy, all these winter events you have to go to! There are soooo many parties and other opportunities to gather at this particular time of year, so when to go and when not to? Many of us would rather pretend to be sick and stay home drinking eggnog in a darkened room. But in actuality, this is the perfect time to get ahead. All these holiday parties are the prime time to make fresh connections and start the New Year off on the right foot.
Ken Rutkowski, host and president of the Business Rockstars radio show, is a networking veteran who has earned himself the reputation of “the super-connector.” I love finding great info and sharing it with you so please take Ken’s words to heart as if they were my own…because I’m in 100% alignment. Here are his top five tips to network yourself through the holidays.
1. Don’t look at it as “networking”
View events, social and business as relationship building opportunities and don’t ever ask for money, a job, an audition or anything else for that matter. This is time to create and build rapport ONLY.
2. Pick the right events and be realistic
If the event is only for union members and you’re not one, then don’t go. If the event is at an agent’s office that you are not a client of, then don’t go. Seriously…find the FIT first. If you have a sinking feeling in your gut about attending, then the event is probably not right for you. Go to parties and events where you are certain you will be a part of the right crowd and go with the intention of meeting great people just like you!
3. Dress appropriately
This is a big one. I can’t tell you how many actor events where I’ve seen pictures on line and say to myself, “Wow, don’t they have a mirror in their house?” At the same time, holiday flair is always a winner. Really know the crowd you’re going to be hanging out with. In general, don’t wear a suit and tie if the event is more casual and vice versa. But jeans with rips in them that look like they need a good wash is a no-no no matter how casual the event is.
4. Bring a wingman or wingwoman.
Two heads are better than one when it comes to meeting people. You’ll be able to cover more ground and have a fallback person to rendezvous with if you need a break. But don’t get stuck…meaning you have to go out on your own to meet new people. If you only end up talking to the person you came with you’ve missed the purpose entirely.
5. Make it about others
Ken became known as a “super-connector” because he was always introducing people to other people. People appreciate it when you do the networking for them. They come to know you as someone who is connected, and gets things done. Take on this role if you have met folks at your event who you think should also meet each other. You’ll be much more remembered by both of those people, especially if they hit it off.
These same tips can also be applied to family gatherings as well with a little tweaking. Not really excited to hang out with your spouses’ Aunt Millie twice removed? Try asking her questions that illicit stories that you could then use in your acting or writing class. You might even be surprised when Millie shares about her nephew the TV Exec who works at CBS…really? Really! Ask questions. That’s the key!
The holidays are an awkward time for almost everyone. Remember, we’re in this together. Stick to these five rules and get ahead this season!