As voice artists, and as ordinary working folk, we have been given an enormous number of tools at our disposal to connect with others, particularly in our field. Years ago, we didn’t get in contact with each other unless we ran into one another at a studio or over an ISDN connection.
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Now we have what seems to be every conceivable tool to stay in touch and see what everyone is up to. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, the VO-BB, Voiceover Universe…the list is dizzying, and probably a bit overwhelming even if you have sat yourself down and tried to make sense of it all. Where do you start? How do you do it? And do you even have to?
Let me make one part of this very simple: yes, you do have to do it. This is how the world works nowadays, and you need to be a part of it. And no, you are not going to generate lots of jobs and money directly from your efforts there, at least not quickly. But you must integrate the use of social media, and the networking with other artists, studios, and production houses into your plans to make sure you are not missing out.
Dave Courvoisier and Terry Daniel have put together a very helpful and complete listing of social media resources for the voice actor at Social Media VO. It includes links to all the biggies, and some techniques to try in the social media space. But don’t forget the most important part of this social media experience: the people you are connecting with.
In all of the areas you need to explore, it is not enough to be a “lurker,” someone who watches, but never participates. You can gain information, hints and tips by lurking, no doubt about it. But you will not gain the connections you want and need without participating. For instance, on Twitter, you must follow the #vo and #voiceover hashtags. But don’t just watch: comment, compliment, retweet. Pass along opportunities that you can’t fulfill, but one of your followers or someone you are following can. Make sure you are out there doing something, not just passively observing. That person you congratulate on their latest gig may know someone you need to talk to.
Back to the overwhelming nature of the social media world: it’s hard to manage it all. However, there are people who have great ideas about how to stay on top of it. Michael Stelzner runs the Social Media Examiner website and daily email newsletter, and it is packed solid with information and tactics for using the social networks. My favorite article so far is “5 Easy Steps to a Winning Social Media Plan” by Emily Soares Proctor. It give you a framework for what to update when, definite strategies, and even provides you with a calendar.
What can I point to that shows this can work? How about a job I did for Terry today. Or the great conversations I have had with Pamela Vanderway of Dialect411.com, and the very cool project she pushed me into working on. Or the studios I have found and signed up with for messaging on hold, commercials and e-learning. Or even just the fact that I now know Monte Bratten, Cia Court, Jud Niven, and Lisa Rice.
It’s a lot to do. And I don’t adhere exactly to it yet. But you have to get started somewhere. Go to Dave and Terry’s site and get some pointers. Get on Twitter and start following the hashtags and the people you meet there. Get on VU and VO-BB. But get started.
Because networking is not optional.