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When you're new in town and trying to learn about the business, it seems impossible to meet casting directors, agents, and other professionals. But there's a simple way of expanding your knowledge and Rolodex — invite a professional to lunch!
Agents, actors, and casting directors have to eat, too. If you approach them the right way, most of them will be happy to take you up on your offer. If you approach them the wrong way, however, you might end up doing yourself more harm than good. Follow these tips, and you'll be fine:
·This meeting is about making a contact, not getting a job. If you fear your desperation might show, start by approaching an up-and-coming agent, casting director, assistant, or fellow actor. You'll feel more relaxed if you're sitting across the table from someone who's trying to make it, too. And don't forget, today's novice is tomorrow's wheeler-dealer.
·When you extend the invitation, simply say you respect the professional's expertise, and you'd like to learn more about the business. Maintain an attitude of curiosity and interest.
·Keep it friendly and casual. The point of the lunch is to get to know each other, so let the conversation develop naturally. Avoid copping a "what can you do for me" attitude.
·Avoid pitching yourself. Don't promote yourself or hand over your headshot unless you're asked.
·If you feel the meeting has been successful, ask your new acquaintance if she can recommend one or two other people you could contact. Once you have those names, invite them to lunch!
·Pick up the tab. Show you appreciate their time and help by treating them. It's a small investment with a potentially huge reward.
Whatever you do, avoid coming across as pushy or desperate. Instead, focus on being professional, interested, and appreciative. Keep your cool, and before you know it your Rolodex will be bursting at the seams!