A Career Coach Tells You How to Approach Cold Outreach

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One of the most common fears that come up for my coaching clients is FOMO, the fear of missing out. I know that when I’m between shows and I don’t have an audition for a while, I start to freak out. But I’m here to tell you not to panic; the universe (and show business) is abundant. To help avoid the added stress, I have put systems in place with cold outreach to help me feel connected even if I’m not busy. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that the best way to alleviate fear is to take action. This business is all about relationships and since you probably already know a lot of people who can help you with your career, you need to reach out to them.

I bet you’re thinking, “That sounds great, Bret, but also terrifying! I don’t know what to say. Will I piss people off? I feel like it makes me look too needy or desperate.”

Those fears about cold outreach are understandable but if you’re afraid of being “that person,” trust me, you aren’t “that person.” You cannot let the fear of the unknown paralyze you from building relationships within the industry and to do that, you need to keep in touch with the casting directors, directors, writers, choreographers, and fellow actors you’re constantly meeting. If not, you’re missing golden opportunities to nurture those essential relationships.

There are plenty of ways to stay in touch with people without being sales-y or awkward, but here are my top four ways to push through the fear, build your own network of like-minded industry connections, and start working toward the career you want.

1. Always speak to the human being.
We can get so caught up in someone’s impressive résumé that we forget they’re human beings first. So remember to ask them about their life outside of work. What do they enjoy doing in their free time? What causes are they passionate about? Even what you enjoy outside of performing? Yes, people will be interested in that too, believe it or not.

2. Use common sense on social media.
Social media is a must nowadays but please get permission before friending people you don’t know. Getting a buy-in to connect over social media first builds trust. It shows you respect their boundaries, just like you’d want them to do for you.

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3. Postcards are still a priority.
Postcards may seem outdated and some casting directors will tell you they hate them, but the payoff versus the expense and effort is too worthwhile to pass up. These mailings keep you top of mind. Plus, with apps like Touchnote and Amazingmail, you don’t even have to get inventory now. If you’re still on the fence, trust your gut about how often to send them, but make this a habit.

4. Inevitably, email.
OK, OK, you hate those actor emails you get from literally everyone. But guess what? If you want to be front of mind with people you’ve worked with, you have to stay in touch. Everyone has email. It’s fast and it’s free. However, you choose to stay in touch with people, do it regularly. People should hear from you every 6–12 weeks. Put reminders on your calendar or rely on your impulses. When I think of someone I’ve worked with, I email them instantly, even if it’s just to say, “I’m thinking about you, hope you’re well.” It’s real, it’s honest, and it’s human.

I challenge you today to reach out to that one person who keeps popping up in your head. If you’re nervous, having a mentor, career coach, or friend proof your copy is a great way to get over your fear. Once you make staying in touch with people a habit, you can kiss that FOMO goodbye.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Bret Shuford
Bret Shuford is The Broadway Life Coach, a Broadway, television, and film actor whose Broadway credits include Cirque du Soleil’s “Paramour,” “Amazing Grace,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” He is an iPEC Certified Life Coach who's determined to make fulfillment the norm in show business rather than the exception. Join the free Balance on Broadway Challenge at balanceonbroadway.com.
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