When you think of a networking event, what comes to mind? I guess it would depend on the industry. In VO, it’s just awesome.
When you spend your days working alone in a small padded room, these events are not just fun, educational and often times career changing, but they’re almost a necessity! You’ll have the occasional phone call from a client (since most correspondence is email these days) or a live directed session via one of the many digital options, which does help the “working together” feeling. Or the rare instance when you actually get dressed and leave your studio to record in another, but most of the time, you’re all alone…
Do you find your non-VO friends happy for your bookings and career accomplishments, but they don’t really get it? VO people do. When someone eats, sleeps and breathes VO like you do, of course they get it. Surrounding yourself by others who love the industry as much as you do, is really important to continue to grow, be inspired, learn, challenge yourself, gain motivation and so much more. I’ve been in voiceover since July 2004 and finally attended my first networking event in December 2012. It was career changing and gave me an entirely new perspective on the industry. All I can say is I wish I had done it sooner!
What networking events are out there?
Well at this point there are many! Everything from small meet-up groups (check meet-up.com for one near you) or search Facebook to find other talent in your area to connect with, to large conferences such as VOICE (the VoiceOver International Creative Experience), or an unconference, such as FaffCon. The talented Dave Courvoisier wrote a great article recently spelling out some of the different voiceover conference options. With all of the choices out there these days, you should include this in your voiceover budget. Not all of them occur every year, so that can help with your planning.
Here are some to consider:
In addition to these conferences, there are many other networking & educational opportunities available. From regular meet-up groups, to voiceover gatherings in your area “just for fun”. To workshops by Marice Tobias, or the SAG Foundation’s Poker Classic. You can join the Voxy Ladies at an event with Rob Paulsen & Maurice LaMarche, or even attend a book signing for Living On Air with Joe Cipriano and hear first-hand about his voiceover journey. There’s also the VO Peeps for the Southern California talent. For the animation voice actor, there are Comic-Cons all over the country: San Diego, Denver, Albuquerque and New York, to name a few.
How to decide which ones are for you…
Ask yourself the following questions:
1 – What is the most important thing for you this year – education, networking, or both?
2 – Are there specific coaches that are on your ‘must work with’ list?
3 – Which areas are the easiest for you to get to geographically?
4 – Which ones have you already attended – do you want to attend them again, or try something new?
5 – What is your budget for conferences & networking events this year? Keeping in mind travel, hotel, food, conference admissions (and of course, souvenirs while you’re there!)
6 – If you could only do one conference, which is the most important to you?
Once you have those questions written out, check out all of the different options available to you for 2014 and make an educated decision. (Keeping in mind that some may not even be posted yet!) It’s always great to go where your friends will be, but your decision should ultimately come down to what is best for you and your career.
You’ve decided which events you’re going to, so now it’s time to prepare!
One of the advantages of planning out your conferences & networking events in advance, is that you can do just that, PLAN for them. With everything in life, the more prepared you are going in, the more you’re going to get out of it. This is the perfect time to reassess your business plan and determine what you want to have accomplished by the time you attend these events.
If, for example, you’ve recently rebranded yourself, then strive for having your new website and business cards completed to show off to everyone. If you’re only at the beginning stages of the rebranding process, gather all your notes and ideas and bring them with you to share with others with the intention that you want to walk away from that event with a more solid rebranding plan in place.
Write out what you hope to learn from each event. What areas of your business do you feel need the most attention: technique, marketing, studio, etc? By writing everything out ahead of time, you’re more likely to get what you’re looking for out of these events. It’s wonderful to take away things you didn’t even know you wanted, but you want to make sure you also get what is needed. Other than an appetite to learn and the expectation that you’re going to have SO much fun, you want to make sure you have plenty of business cards!
At these wonderful gatherings, you get what you give. The networking piece is not just about adding people to your contacts list, it’s about building relationships. Everyone has their strengths, so sharing yours and learning from each other is a pivotal part of the experience.
Once you’ve attended a conference or networking event, what’s next?
To make the most out of what you’ve learned, start to apply as much as you can, as soon as possible. If you allow too much time to go by, then the notes you’ve taken, the business cards you’ve collected, the goals you’ve set for yourself afterward, won’t evolve into anything. There is nothing more exciting than the rush that you have after you’ve attended an event like this. You are empowered, more knowledgeable, inspired — in a really great place! Use this to your advantage and run with it!
Giving connects two people, the giver and the receiver, and this connection gives birth to a new sense of belonging. – Deepak Chopra