6 Ways to Meet Powerful People

At some point, it will be a real live human who makes the decision to hire you, and they are not going to choose you unless they’re sure you’re not going to mess up their project. When you finally figure out you need to meet these folks, here are some techniques to help you get beyond the initial greeting and create some space for yourself in the hearts and minds of these powerful people.

1. The Girl Scout cookie introduction. You know why Girl Scouts are so good at selling their cookies? Because the cookies taste great and everyone knows it. Actors often express fear about meeting people because they feel like they are trying to get something. The truth is that you are there to give. It’s all about how you think about it. So I ask them if they would be willing to walk in with a basket of freshly baked chocolate cookies to hand out. They invariably say, yes. So all you have to do is value yourself more than a cookie. You are worth more than a cookie, aren’t you?

2. Things change, so come back tomorrow. When someone says no to us, we don’t know why. We will never know why, but since we are complete strangers, there is little chance we actually have anything to do with it. They could be in the middle of a divorce; their child might have been expelled; or maybe the shirt you were wearing reminded them of their father. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. With 100 percent certainty, I can tell you that circumstances will be different by tomorrow. It doesn’t mean you will get to give them what you want, but it will show your persistence and that you are not there to murder them—which is a huge plus in relationship building.

3. Be helpful. Whenever you walk into a business or approach someone on the phone for the first time, there is a natural mistrust and potential for awkwardness. One of the best ways to break the ice is to start being helpful right away. Most businesses have someone out front who rests between you and the person you are trying to meet. Treat the gatekeeper like they are the most important person in that company. Try to fill their needs.

If the office is cold, offer your sweater. You will get it tomorrow, which is an instant excuse to come back. If they are busy, offer to guard the desk while they go to the bathroom or get a coffee. Offer to get them a coffee. Look around. Do you have anything in common—school, sports, interests, a book? Compliment them on their hair, their clothes, anything you find appealing. Make them feel important. If you can build trust at the front door, your chances of getting to the boss are increased exponentially.

4. Be open. A lot of people have no idea what to say to strangers in the industry. Method one: Don’t say anything. Chances are that after a second of awkward silence, they are going to ask you how they can help you. Opening created.

Method two: Be vulnerable. The more open you are, the more open others will be. You could talk about how a bus splashed you yesterday on the way to an audition, how you ran out of gas on the 101 freeway, or how your dog used your bed as a bathroom. Laugh at yourself and you will reveal yourself to be both interesting and likable, and then if you screw up your pitch, they already like you and want to help.

5. Rules are for rulers. While we covered repeat visits due to changing circumstances, more important is the fact you can’t let others stand in the way of your dreams. You can’t let someone’s initial reaction change the rest of your life. So knowing the amazing gift that you are combined with the research you have done, just keep coming back because you aren’t going to let them deprive themselves of your awesomeness. You still have something they want. The more reps you do, the more they will see the light inside you.

6. Start at the bottom. It’s a lot easier to show your value at something for which you are eminently qualified. I spent many hours doing low-brow duties before working my way into various positions of authority. While sometimes it was a struggle to maintain my dignity knowing I had more education and life experience than my bosses, I also really stood out as an envelope opener and script reader. Soon I had built huge trust, and before long, I was pretty much dictating my own responsibilities which included auditioning any time I wanted for anything I want. By starting at the bottom, you can stay below the radar until you are ready to blow their minds.

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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.
David Patrick Green
David Patrick Green is a professional actor and the founder of Hackhollywood.com, a membership-based website dedicated to empowering and educating actors around the globe on how to become a professional actor.
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