Voice over is a friendly business and certainly the having of friends in voice over makes a big difference in your career, whether you’re just getting started or you’re in a position to give a helping hand.
Read this fab article from guest blogger Bill Oxley, someone who grew up on the greener side of the proverbially industry grass, and learn how you can make career changing connections today, even if you didn’t go to elementary or high school in Southern California.
You Gotta Have Friends
By Bill Oxley
“Location, location, location” is the most influential characteristic of valuable real estate, as we all learned; but did you know that a similar mantra applies to the most influential characteristic of your successful voiceover career? It sure does! That mantra is, “Friends, friends, friends.”
I grew up in Southern California. Burbank, to be exact. Some of the neighborhood kids had dads and moms in the entertainment business, so it was no big deal to go play at the homes of stars, like good ole, long-retired Roy from The Mickey Mouse Club, or the voiceover lady who yelled the words, “Hey Culligan Man!” for the water softener company, which earned her decades of income.
So, I always felt rather sorry for some of my friends and relatives back east who wanted to get into show business, or voiceover, because they were stranded thousands of miles from the epicenter of entertainment. In order to break into the business, they’d have to move to Southern California; or, they’d have to settle for something less and break into the fascinating world of fast food back in Farmington.
Even as recently as ten years ago, if you wanted to get into show business or voiceover, you had to be here.
For example, when I hired the most famous and accomplished voiceover artist of all time, Gary Owens, to record some spots for my advertising agency, we would work at the beautiful facilities of L.A. Studios. It was there after our fifth session together that Gary introduced me to Dennis Holt, the founder of the world’s largest media buying company, a business relationship that continues to be valuable to me today.
See? “Friends, friends, friends.”
(During my very first session with Gary Owens, I sat across the glass in the control booth as Gary got settled in front of the mic. I noticed that there were no headphones in the booth, so I jumped on the intercom and asked The Master if he’d like some cans. He replied, with his hand over his ear in classic Gary Owens mellifluous fashion, “No thank you, Bill. They’re built in.” I may have wet my pants laughing… and you know, he may have been right!)
But, what about you? Who are your friends?
If you don’t live in Southern California, how in the world can you cultivate these friendships and succeed in voiceover? Well, certainly living here is best, but thanks to Al Gore (or whomever it was that invented the internet), you can have instant contact with anyone, anywhere. Very likely, you’ve already been taking advantage of technology. You have a home studio; you’re a member of Voices.com; you’re taking voiceover classes; and, you’re improving everyday.
But, how do you cultivate friends from a long distance?
Treat your internet presence as you would your personal appearance.
Is your Web site perfect? State-of-the-art? Cutting edge? If you can answer ‘yes’ to those questions, then you are well on your way to making a positive first impression on your prospective new friends. Once your first impression is made, then you can work on the core of the relationship with your new acquaintances that you want as your friends.
Use common sense, which sometimes isn’t so common:
à¹ Be sharp
à¹ Be helpful
à¹ Follow up
à¹ Be kind
Personally, I carry UCLA Coach John Wooden’s Secret to Success in my wallet, ’cause I make mistakes, become impatient, overlook details, hurt someone’s feelings, and so on. In short, I’m not perfect, but John Wooden’s words help put me on the right track.
And, remember what Gary Owens told me, “You never know…”, and by that he meant that you and I never know where our next gig is coming from, but we always know how well or how poorly we’ve treated our clients, studio minions and strangers.
So: Be nice. Be nice to everyone. Just like mom said when we were kids.
I also have to say that I don’t think I’ve ever met a celebrity who makes even the most humble person feel like royalty, until I met Gary Owens; and, I’m sure that in your life you have people you know who treat others well. Take that evidence to heart, if you haven’t already, and apply it to your professional voiceover life.
Remember: your reputation is all that you have.
Make it a good one!
You’ll quickly find yourself surrounded by, “Friends, friends, friends.”
Can You Relate to Bill’s article? Leave a comment!
Best wishes from your friends,
Bill Oxley and Stephanie Ciccarelli