Alternate title: Why you should get in someone's face... in a space.
Okay, I know this stock photo looks like someone is about to give a "coffee is for closers" reference, but bear with me. I have a point.
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, beats getting to see your career peers in person and communing over all things audiobook.
I just returned from the incredible Johnny Heller and Jo Anna Perrin's 7th annual New England Narrator Retreat. Aside from being a glow with good food and new friends, this specific immersive created some very substantial and quantifiable elements that I wanted to point out in case you're on the fence about the ROI of these events.
It's cliche, but it truly is about who you know. Because we make our big bucks by talking to ourselves in sound-dampened spaces, getting your face and name in front of the right people is a massive boon to any budding career path. How do you do that? You go where they go. Want to meet coaches? Publishers, the behemoths of the industry who know everyone, who is everyone? Go to an event like APAC or an APA-sponsored event, or one of Johnny Heller's workshops like the NE Narrators retreat. Introduce yourself and find something in common - heck, you might find out you met a producer for PRH 12 years ago when you and their first NY roommate worked at the same restaurant gig and went out for beers. Crazy (based on actual events). Small world, smaller industry - connect.
Zoom isn't the same.
For two years, we haven't been able to gather outside rows of mute buttons and boxes, and as anyone who attended a virtual conference will tell you, it isn't even close to the same experience. Now that events are coming back, there's even less impetus to remain contained on a computer, and the retention and engagement from those mixers and seminars show it. Am I saying that you should NEVER do an online event? No - but I am saying that it should not be your only go-to for networking. It's like a college lecture instead of a lab. Way less opportunity to do... well... anything but listen and occasionally raise your hand. Be a doer.
The audiobook community has small-town roots. In the beginning... Only a handful of publishing houses and go-to actors were working in this industry (Ask coach Jo Anna Perrin about her wild ride with recording books in segments with joy sticks!). As such, I've noticed a "small town" vibe in the community. People tend to pass along names of potential hires, coaches get contacted by publishers, and people help each other, give expertise and share their experiences openly. It's a warm fuzzy family out there, and to not meet people, hear their stories, and gain these friendships flat out deters your forward momentum. It's not something you can build solely on LinkedIn or TikTok. If you're not hanging out in the proverbial town squares, you're simply missing out on information and opportunities that could allow you to level up. And I want you to level up and beat the boss (is that Bezos?) at his own game (yeah, it's Bezos).
And if it's a money thing? Because yes, these events usually have price tags like plane tickets, coaching fees, and/or hotel accommodations - think of it this way. ONE connection to another narrator/coach/producer is all it takes to get cast. Getting cast is getting paid. Getting paid ONE 12-hour book will cover your costs and BAM ROI. And even if you go and talk to no one (I DON'T WANT THAT, DON'T DO THAT, TALK TO ME AT LEAST), Casting directors, Publishers and Authors want to know you are serious and active in your career. So go to the thing and then email them and tell them you saw them at the item and what they said was genius and hire you. AKA, get involved and get booked.
Have I convinced you? Yes? No? If yes - good. Coffee for me (I love a full-circle moment). No? Message me or comment on why. Let's talk about it. I'm always up for a conversation... because it's engagement... and... see where this is going? ;)
-Till next blog moment, friends, B