Five Things To Do AFTER a Voiceover Conference
VO Atlanta 2019 is in the books. An incredible weekend of world-class voice actors, agents, and casting directors all sharing their knowledge and skills on the art and craft of voiceover. This was my fifth time attending and I'm already planning for the next one.
So now that the laundry is done and the Throat Coat tea is steeping, here are five things you can do to make the most of any conference you attend and how to apply it to your voiceover business:
If you followed my previous post about how to attend a conference, you probably now have a big bag o swag: business cards, brochures, stickers, pens, candy, toys and a variety of other stuff that may or may not be helpful to your business. Pictured at right is my haul from 2 years ago.
Now, take that bag, dump it all out on a big table and start going through everything.
Sort through the business cards. One thing I do when I receive someone’s card is to jot down on the back a little note about that person. Are they a fellow voice artist? A vendor offering a product I’m interested in? Was it someone I’d like to do business with or a possible client? That’s the time to note it down. If you don’t do this, you’ll probably be spending that first day back home staring at a stack of cards trying to remember something about who it was that handed it to you.
Take all the cards and put them into a business card file. You never know when you may need to refer to someone you met a while ago, and a card file is a great way to keep things sorted and organized.
This year, VOAtlanta had an app to keep track of everything that was going on. The app also featured a way to connect with fellow voice artists and vendors by giving each participant a unique QR code that contained the person's contact information. You could quickly scan a participant's code and their info would be added to your list of contacts on the app that you could then use to network with that person throughout the event.
The problem with this is that the app assigned points for every contact you scanned and message post you made, then displayed a list of which participant had the most number of points. This quickly turned a system for networking with peers into a game to see who could get the most points. An event like this is an amazing opportunity to engage with people that could springboard your voiceover career to the next level of success. While some people were scrambling around the conference all weekend in a Pokemon style, "gotta catch em all" fervor, trying to scan as many codes as possible, I wondered how many meaningful connections those people were actually making. Answer: none.
Compile all your receipts - keeping track of your expenses is an important part of being a business professional. Organize all those little strips of paper, make a simple document that itemizes everything (or as much as you can remember) and be sure to include those expenses on your taxes. You can't deduct alcohol, but meals you had, taxis you took, air fare, and products you purchased for your business are. If you go to a lot of conferences over the course of a year, it can add up. Organize this as soon as you get home. Add everything to a spreadsheet, throw the physical receipts into a folder and when tax time comes around, you'll be ready.
Create action items - An "action item" is corporate-speak for a to-do list that you actually follow (instead of just filling out and forgetting). If you took notes while you were in the various sessions - and you really should have, since these conferences tend to be a “drinking from the fire hose” kind of experience - start putting together a list of things you can do to apply that information to your business. Make yourself accountable for the information you learned. Is it a new marketing strategy? A new way to approach your voiceover performances? Whatever it is, make a list and hold yourself accountable.
Write Follow Up Emails. After you've sorted all of your business cards, start sending emails to the people you want to contact. Peers, vendors, important people, etc. Send them a quick note mentioning the event and how nice it was to meet them. The trick here is to stay "top of mind" after the event. The more they remember you (hopefully in a positive way) the greater your chances for making a life-long friend. Or a mentor. Or an agent. Or maybe even some work.
Evaluate the benefits/ expenses while it’s still fresh in your head. It’s easy to look back at a conference you went to a year ago and think about all the good times you had. But how does that benefit your business' bottom line? Did you apply what you learned to improve your work? Did you learn new ways to advance your business, or was it just a reunion with people you know? Take the time to really consider if this is a conference you want to go to again next year. If it wasn't beneficial to you, skip it. If it was, factor it in your budget for next year and figure out ways to make your time there even better.
You spent a lot of money and effort to go to that conference. By following a few simple steps, you'll get the most return on that investment and set yourself up for even more success in the future.
About Rob Marley -
A Los Angeles native, Rob is an accomplished voice talent, coach, producer and writer, now living in the Hill Country of Austin Texas. Find out more here.