This has been a wonderful adventure, my acting career so far, and many times I feel like I am just getting started. With each new success, I see a new, unrealized goal just beyond my grasp. I feel like a new carrot is constantly being dangled before me, as I strive to pursue greater things.
Don't we all? Regardless of our career aspirations, we are always learning, sharing, developing and improving ourselves, so that previously unobtainable achievements are closer to our reach. Too many of us sit on the sidelines and wait for somebody else to make our lives happen. What are we doing in the meantime?
This reminds me of an encounter I had several years ago after an audition in Gainesville, Florida. The primary industry in Gainesville is education, agriculture and medicine, all extensions of the University of Florida, which calls Gainesville home. A great number of businesses in the area depend upon, and therefore cater to the student and faculty population.
The University of Florida also has an incredible performing arts program. While having lunch at an eatery close to the school, I overheard a conversation that mentioned Shakespeare's unmentionable play. Although I am not one to eaves-drop, I honed in on the conversation, as the commentary piqued my interest.
Evidently, the students were collaborating on a mixed-media performance of the play, and were fleshing out the concept. Rather than be rude, I walked over to the two and introduced myself, an eight-year member of the Atlantic Shakespeare Company at the time. I made it clear I had no intention on imposing myself upon them, but just wanted to share our mutual interest.
The two kept their magnificent plans very close to the chest. They shared a vague overview of their concept, but it was clear they had no intention of letting any vital detail be known. I excused myself, encouraging them to give it their all, and it was good to see the two of them collaborating and "networking."
You would have thought I skinned a kitten alive over their lunch table. "OOOH. We don't use THAT word. This is important work." Two like-minded individuals coming together to share their expertise on a project. Isn't this networking...whether it be among two people or a massive group?
I returned to my table, stunned that there are people...not just artists...that just "hope" their work is somehow "discovered." Many artists, performers, writers have this notion that if their work is spectacular enough, somebody else will work hard to find it and share it with the masses. That it is merely the artists' job to create the piece, and it is up to somebody else to promote it, and by association the artist, to popularity.
This also goes for students who fail to receive scholarships and grants because they never applied, athletes who don't reach the professional level because they don't attend the combines, and businesses who open the door on their new company, without a lick of marketing. "Build It and They Will Come" is a wonderful quote from a fantastic movie, but not a philosophy for running a business or your life.
Now, we have "social media," which to many is regarded as the "Holy Grail" of marketing, enabling artists and businesses to reach their target audience with the greatest of ease...and most of the time...for free. However, social networks are tools that can be leveraged to promote a work of art, the artist himself, a product or event...IF you understand exactly how to do it.
Too many of us simply post a photo, video or article somewhere, and ask our friends to "like and share." Does your circle of influence commit to that call to action? Are they the people who can facilitate action by those who can improve your career or business, or are you simply providing them a sixty-second diversion?
If you are a professional artist, you have a business. You can entrust the success of your career on the hope that the actions of others will help you to achieve, or you can be in the driver's seat, enacting positive, specific, trackable directives that you know will benefit your business. Continuing education and practice is only one aspect of your business. Getting your product...YOU...in front of the eyes of decision-makers in your industry is another.
Do you know how to use social networks to promote your business? Do you know there are hundreds of such networks, and many more online and offline services for you to leverage? Do you know that how you compose your post is just as important as what you put in it? And do you know that success in this industry...just like all others...relies on building quality relationships?
A few years ago, I encountered a workshop whose primary function was to help bloggers connect their audience with others who share similar interests, and through this relationship building, create new opportunities for them to share their content.
My first revelation was, "Wow! I have so many friends who create quality content...scripts, photos, films, music, books...every single day, who either rely simply on "traditional" methods of distribution, or attempt to utilize the Internet for marketing purposes without a roadmap of exactly how to reach the results they desire.
My next revelation came in the same weekend: Most of the content we create, blog entries, photography, video, tunes, lyrics, animation, vocal recordings and the like can be repurposed in many ways...some to create additional profit streams, and others to generate more interest in our future work.
The third take-away from that workshop was that the practices taught to promote your own original content can also be leveraged to share products and services offered through your professional relationships, again reaching a greater audience who is actively involved in your particular market.
I did a brief write-up on my experience on "my other website" about the workshop. (I realized the information I have to share about various topics might be best presented somewhere besides ScottJSmith.com).
The community is called Novice to Advanced Marketing System. (See what I did just there? Sharing one of my professional relationships with you.) There's lots of FREE information on there, but if you do decide to purchase a product, a membership, or attend a future workshop, they will send me a little "thank you."
I think the most valuable free offering on that site is the Weekly Expert Live Training. These are 60-90 minute live webinars with some of the most successful business coaches, communication consultants, online marketers, copy writers, and instructors available.
For those of you who have been "burned" by hour-long pitches-disguised-as-learning-opportunities that were 90% sizzle and 10% "how you can buy the steak," here are some of the previously-recorded webinars you can put into practice today. These courses have some real meat to them...you can learn a whole lot every week.
Not all topics may apply to your current endeavor, but what makes this series great, is you can choose to tune in each week, depending whether you feel that week's expert CAN drive you forward in your business. Yes, the instructor will share information about additional available programs that can enhance your progress, but no attendee is ever pressured or coerced into making any commitments.
It's the number one rule on the application for any professional who desires to be an instructor for this community. The same is true to the semi-annual workshops I attend. The "no pitch" hard-line was so strong at earlier workshops, many attendees were asking the instructors, "Where can I find more?"...so it has been relaxed to a "low pitch" rule, where the main focus of he instruction must be tried-and-true methods that have proven real-world results.
Whether or not professional marketing training is for you, please, Please, PLEASE take control of your business. In addition to developing your own works...in addition to constantly training with your acting or vocal coach...in addition to staying up on industry news...you owe it to yourself to move your business forward. Find industry-related business classes, seminars and workshops in your area or online, but DO NOT wait for somebody else to manage your career for you (unless, of course, you have a strong relationship with a talent manager!).