Updated: Dec 9, 2020
The light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel is glowing a little brighter this week, as Pfizer's shiny new vaccine makes its way across the Atlantic for use in the UK.
Looking back, it's been a whirlwind ten months of Zoom bloopers, socially-distanced strolls, and dubious banana cakes. We've all become used to remote work too: earning, learning and tax returning from the comfort of our own sofas.
Working from home might be the phrase of the year. With FlairBox, you can audition, self-tape, and get cast before the morning coffee's brewed. But what about networking from home? How should actors approach this equally important element of their careers?
Networking as an actor usually means getting out and about: joining classes, workshops, and dramatic groups to meet like-minded people. For ambitious actors, it might mean nosing one's way into influential circles at industry events, screenings, and dinners. However you do it, networking feels innately physical - which is why networking remotely seems like such a bizarre concept.
But you've got to give it a shot. One recent survey found that 85% of jobs are filled via networking - lending authority to that old phrase: "it's not what you know, it's who you know."
For young actors in the process of building themselves a platform, networking is fundamental to your progress - and a global pandemic is no excuse not to invest in your network. Here's how you'll do it.
1. Emails don't land - phone calls do.
Important people get dozens of important emails every hour. They also get spam, junk, and sycophantic essays from super-fans. Your email - to a casting director, an influential actor, or an industry heavyweight - is destined to get buried within this digital slurry.
Moreover, an email isn't all that personal or thoughtful. Actually, it feels like the laziest way to reach out to someone. You can fire off an email in less than a minute, and your recipient knows that. If you want to make an impression, an email isn't how you'll do it.
Instead, find your recipient's personal social media (LinkedIn or Twitter are best) and send a friendly, thoughtful direct message asking for a chat on the phone. A phone call is personal and intimate, and gives you the best chance to leave a positive impression with someone.
2. Mutual connections are great.
Being contacted by a stranger from the gloomy digital ether might not be everyone's cup of tea. Sometimes it's best to lean on your existing contacts instead, mapping out new connections in the entertainment industry from there. That way, when you do reach out, you'll be able to mention "I know so-and-so" to make yourself seem more credible (and less weird).
Social media networks all have a handy feature that shows mutual friends. This is your base camp for making new connections. If you're keen to talk to an influential casting agent in London, for instance, it'll help if you know their high school drama teacher, or if you've both previously worked with a particular director.
You have more connections than you realise. Use them. Everyone you've met in the industry, however briefly, is more likely to help you out - making an introduction, or sharing your FlairBox profile - than a total stranger. Each existing connection is an opportunity to expand your network.
3. Events are still happening - online.
There is such a thing as a 'Networking Event' - even within the hyper-social, meticulously-connected world of acting. They're unlikely to restart in earnest any time soon, but there are plenty of online events, webinars, and hang-outs, often free for you to join, where you can make first-rate contacts.
Where will you find events? Search for them on event listing platforms like Eventbrite, and in Facebook's public events listings. The Stage and other industry publications regularly share event listings too. But your day-to-day focus, as ever, should be fixed on Twitter.
Advanced search on Twitter is how you'll find all manner of online events - casually tweeted by casting agents, talent agencies, actors groups, and industry experts. Use search wisely, and follow the right influencers and practitioners, to hitch a ride on Zoom calls and online discussions that'll introduce you to senior contacts across the industry.
4. Your content is your shop window.
You know as well as the next well-heeled thespian that acting is brutally competitive, and that casting calls in the UK can see hundreds of applications to fill a single role. Casting directors see tens of thousands of eager young faces every year. You need to find a way to stand out.
The best way to get noticed online is through your videos. When networking remotely, content is king. It's why we're always encouraging you to get more videos uploaded to your flourishing FlairBox profiles.
Unlike some other casting networks we're far too smug to name, FlairBox has a super-handy 'share' feature. Simply pluck a link from your profile and sprinkle it around on your social media, on your digital CV, or on your email sign-off. Casting directors will usually have watched your videos before they get in touch with you. Use your self-tapes to fascinate them: making it impossible for them to ignore your message.
5. Get creative; let your flair do the talking.
Back in the summer, we launched FlairBox to make life so much easier for Actors, Agents, and Casting Professionals - and to connect young actors with acting auditions and casting calls despite the need to socially isolate. Since then, we've seen a tidal wave of incredible talent sweep across our casting platform.
Clearly, self-taped scenes are crucial when you're using FlairBox, as they're how you'll respond to direct calls for casting in the UK and beyond. But it's your other video content - little sketches, creative characters, or homages to your favourite scenes - that'll really show off your range and your flair.
What you write, record, or film is up to you. All we know, after speaking with countless Casting Directors and Talent Agents, is that passion and ambition do shine through. If you've made the effort to show off your talent online, acting jobs will eventually find their way to you - on FlairBox, and elsewhere.