Dear West End Producer: What’s the best way to go about networking?
— James Alexander Keen (@JamesA_Keen) February 22, 2016
Meeting people and making contacts can be one of the most important things you can do in your acting career. Not only can it be good for your social life, it can lead to more work, too.
Simply put, the best way to meet people is by putting yourself out there. Go to classes, attend casting director workshops, pop to Equity meetings, and go to the theatre. It really is just about being seen. After a while, you will notice some familiar faces, and if you do, introduce yourself.
Of course some people are a lot better at this than others. But beware – never try too hard, as you don’t want to appear a desperate Dan. This is the worst thing you can do. If you happen to meet a director, casting director, or boyfriend of a friend who knows Rupert Goold, you should remain cool and calm, and avoid constantly talking about the fact that you’re an actor. Mention it once, and then move on to something more interesting, such as the size of Rylan’s teeth.
Of course, sometimes it takes no planning at all to make contacts, as you will naturally meet people in your everyday life. I’d bet frequently you meet people involved in the acting business, even if it’s just someone you’re sitting next to in a call centre – but remember, that person on the phone selling dog insurance could one day be running the National Theatre.
Also, simply by attending auditions, you obviously meet people. Every time you go to a casting, you meet the creative team – always remember who you’ve met. After a while you will know who a lot of these people are – simply because you’ve auditioned for them a couple of times.
However, this does not mean that they’re your best friend – never gallop over to them and give them a sloppy kiss in future auditions. Keep it professional at all times – unless they make the first move, in which case you should touch, tickle and tease them until they give you a job.
It is useful to keep a record of who you’ve met, whether it be in castings, at shows, or simply down the local sauna. This is where your Equity diary comes in handy – write in it all the details of the contacts you’ve made. This can be excellent ammunition for future.
It really can be refreshing having someone saying in a casting: “You saw me for the role of the car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang last year.” (Avoid doing this if your last casting for us was dire, dear.)
However, if you can’t be bothered with the professional route, there are the more alcoholic ways of making contacts – which basically require you to hang around Soho House, Century, Groucho and Freedom bar every Saturday night in a tight T-shirt and skinny jeans. Target the people you think will be good for your career, spot when they’re drunk, introduce yourself, buy them shots, take photos of them vomiting in the toilets, and bribe them for a casting the following week. Your imminent success will be guaranteed, dear.
Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer