I’ve said it many times before, the voice over industry is a giving industry. For a competitive performing arts profession, it is rarely cut-throat (happily) and most colleagues are genuinely supportive of each other’s success. This support shows itself in Facebook groups where voice over actors respond to questions or posts and offer their experiences and expertise solely to help those who come up after them benefit from what they’ve learned. It shows itself in the outpouring of care when fellow actors are ill or hurting. And it shows itself in a way that few other industries do – in recommendations.
Now, plenty of professionals make recommendations. For instance, doctors recommend other doctors when a specialty is needed. But generally, you don’t see people saying to their doctor “you are great and I want to keep using you, but for this checkup, I need a different doctor to do exactly what you do, know anyone?” Yet many voice over actors are willing and eager to recommend other voice actors to their clients for work that often they themselves would be an exact fit to do. Sometimes they post auditions or calls for demos for jobs that they then help their clients cast, and sometimes they just tell their clients about you without your immediate knowledge and then present you with an opportunity to work. I’ve both been recommended and have done a fair share of recommending others myself over the years.
No matter how these recommendations come about, when you are recommended by your colleagues for work in voice over, you have a responsibility. How you handle the responsibility can be the difference between being regularly recommended and never being recommended again.
First, be a good human. This should go without saying, but it’s always a nice reminder. Be honest, be humble, be kind.
Then, recognize that a colleague directly recommending you to a client is a huge shortcut over a substantial amount of hurdles. You didn’t have to market to that client, you didn’t have to beat out hundreds on a pay to play site for the opportunity, and you benefit substantially from the endorsement you’re receiving from your colleague. Even if you’re one of a small number of options being presented, this is a massive jump to the front of the line and should be considered as such.
So if you’re responding to an audition post, pay close attention to what you’re being asked to submit back to your colleague – file names, what your email subject should say, where you should send your information. Read it twice. Then read it again. Do not make your colleague do extra work to help you get the job.
Once you’ve booked the job, be an extreme professional. Go above and beyond. Pay close attention to client requests, communicate clearly, be prepared, show up on time ready to work, be responsive and helpful, follow through on deadlines and deliverables. Make sure that the client, the one you didn’t have to work hard (or at all) to get hired by, comes away from the experience happy.
This will not only reflect well on you, it will reflect well on the colleague who recommended you and make THEM look good to their client. After all, it isn’t just your reputation on the line in these settings, it’s theirs as well. You have to live up to the trust the client placed in your colleague’s ability to discern talent AND professionalism. They endorsed you, don’t make them look dumb for doing so. And when the job is done, don’t forget to thank them for recommending you and your business.
This prescription for professional behavior may seem obvious – but you’d be surprised how many voice actors fail to do many (or even most) of these actions. Whether they realize it or not, they’ve immediately lost the opportunity to be recommended in the future. Don’t be like them.