Learning to Network & Networking to Learn

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:

VOICE (the VoiceOver International Creative Experience)
FaffCon (the voiceover unconference)
WoVOCon Voicing Our Future
APA Conference (APAC) – for audiobook narrators

Voice Over Virtual

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

Comments (34)

  • This is a wonderful guide, Heather! Admittedly, I have yet to attend any of the big voice over conferences. Which one did you go to in 2012?

    • Thanks John! In December 2012 I attended the NYC VO Mixer, which was wonderful! Since then I’ve attended a few other NY VO gatherings, a workshop with the Voxy Ladies & Rob Paulsen in Washington, DC, the SAG Poker Classic in LA and FaffCon in San Antonio. I’m not sure yet which events I’ll be able to attend this year, but I know that FaffCon is #1 on my list 🙂

      • Wow, those are some awesome events, Heather. FaffCon continues to be one that pops up as a must-do. Do you know why people like it so much?

        • I absolutely loved FaffCon. Last year was my first and it was career changing for me. I haven’t been to other large conferences, so I can’t compare. All I can say, is that FaffCon is just magical 🙂 Everyone at FaffCon is a pro talent with something to share. You’re learning from each other. Supporting each other. It’s really amazing!

  • A fantastic blog Heather. Networking is very important and can open up lots of wonderful opportunities as well as friendships. I run a London monthly meet up called The VoiceOver Network. Anyone in the UK looking for a networking event send me an e-mail -rachael@rachaelnaylor.com x

    • Thanks Rachael for sharing your London meet-up info here! I’ve been to London a few times (I have family there) but it’s been years! Next time I’m in town, I just may have to join you all for a meeting 🙂

  • I did Voice 2012 and will be there again this year. I also did VO Atlanta last year and have been to APAC in NY twice so far. All worth the investment.

    • Wow, that’s great Kevin! Glad to hear they have all been beneficial to you.

    • Heather, yes definitely! Next time you’re over here give me a shout. We’d love you to join us x

      • I’d be honored, thanks Rachael 🙂

  • Very cool article Heather! There’s a lot going on, as you stated. I recently went to a workshop with Marice Tobias and it was amazing! I hear WoVOCon’s gonna be pretty good too. 🙂

    • That’s great Dustin! I hope to attend a workshop with Marice this year too. I did hear that about WoVOCon 😉

  • Thanks for the mention, Heather. I’m personally trying to sit back from too many conferences this year. ‘Not sure if it’s working yet. 🙂

    Dave Courvoisier

    • LOL, I hear ya! Good luck with that!

  • Thanks for the mention, Heather. Since the original VOICE convention in Las Vegas, back in 2007, it looks like our idea of bringing the voiceover community together has really taken off. Every event you mention is worthwhile – and they all have something unique to offer. And you’ve given some great tips, too! Hope you can make it to VOICE 2014 in August.

    • My pleasure! I’ve heard wonderful things about VOICE and hope to experience it myself some day. I’m not sure if I’ll make it in August, but it’s on my list if not this year, then definitely the next time!

      • I have enjoyed many conventions. I went to VOICE in 2008, 2010 and 2012. It was a great experience each time and I met lifelong friends there. I have also been to Faffcamp, Faffcon in Ventura, Charlotte and San Antonio. They’re different formats but there’s value in all of them. I would likely go to VOICE 2014 if my wife and I hadn’t planned a trip to Europe at that time (to get out of the Vegas heat in August). Oh, and don’t forget WoVOCon 2014: Voicing Our Future in Vegas in May. Heather has a link above. We’d love to have you all there.

        • That’s quite the voiceover conference resume, Dustin 🙂 That’s awesome that you have all those different perspectives!

          • Ha! I would have been at VOICE 2007 and the earlier Faffcon’s if I’d known about them. We don’t get out much as VOs and it’s good to connect to folks in person. 🙂

          • LOL that is true!! 🙂

  • Thanks for sharing this great information on VO conferences, Heather. I am new to SoCal and re-launching my VO career so this list is a great resource! Considering VOICE in Anaheim as it is in my backyard. Have you been to this one?

    • My pleasure Pamela, glad it’s helpful. I haven’t been to VOICE, but I’ve heard wonderful things about them. Especially since it’s so close by to you, it may be worth checking out this year!

  • You’re an inspirational supercharger, luv! Another valuable blog from the first word to the last. I’m still chomping-at-the-bit to get to a conference so reading over your list got me tingling again. ;o)

    • Thank you sweetie, you are so kind. I was planning out my 2014 when I was inspired to write this article, so I’m glad it’s helping others too. I hope we get to meet at one of these events some day soon!!

  • Great resource list, Heather!!

    I’m honored to be presenting at VOICE-2014 this year – right in our own backyard, Orange County, CA – 5 miles from our VO studio!! Hope lots of folks we’ve met on social media can attend. Stop by our booth and do an in-person Tweet-up!!

    Also loved the vibe and the sharing at Faffcon In Ventura and hope to make another FAFF event soon!

    • Thanks Tim! Congrats on presenting at VOICE, that’s awesome!

  • Perfect timing for this article Heather! I’ve been to some “mixer” type events (one where I met YOU), but I’m hoping to attend my first big conference this year. Faffcon is my first choice, but I know not everyone gets in… will just have to wait and see I guess. 🙂 Thanks so much for all the info!

    • I really hope we’re both at FaffCon again this year, I can’t wait to see you again!! 🙂

  • Pingback:11 Top Voiceover Blog Posts This Week- March 8, 2014 | Derek Chappell's Voiceover Blog

    • Thank you Derek, I’m honored!! 🙂

  • Great article, Heather!
    I’ve been needing some tips to help me make the most of networking.
    I’ll be at VOAtlanta in 2 weeks for my 1st conference. Nervous but excited. It’ll be nice to meet some of the new friends I’ve made.

    • That’s exciting Sean, have a great time!

  • Great article, Heather! Very insightful and informative. Thanks for putting all of this info together!

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