Professionally Pushy: When, Why…and how much?

Yes, I’ve been busy remodeling the TAN studio, and other such key aspects of the organization, but along the way this very important aspect of our careers…came back to me. Take it to heart, and learn HOW to do it, because it can make or break your career.

This subject, all on its own, tends to send shivers down the spine of most actors. It is absolutely understandable, especially when working or pursuing a career in Los Angeles. We know as actors that folks on the “other side of the desk” tend to want to control when we are spoken to and when we are allowed to speak. While I understand the reason for this, as a general mutual respect and business concept, it is not particularly empowering, nor effective, when it comes to your career.

So this is the challenge before us, to be or not to be, professionally pushy. Well my response will be that you have to find ways to be professionally pushy or you’ll spend far too many hours of your life and career toiling away in silence and wonderment. But as it is in life, it isn’t what you say, as much as it is how you say it. Additionally, not as much what you do, but how you do it. In a profession that is so subjective and so personal these two statements could not be more important. Often times the same exact person will change their philosophy on a given day about how they feel about a particular action or conversation with or by an actor. This is terribly unfair, and is not nearly as common in other businesses, but at the same time this is just the way it is when one choose to be an actor.

What I have found when talking with actors who are frustrated by lack of reply or results or by those who just don’t even know where to start with being pushy is that they’ve basically done two things; one, they’ve not asked enough questions to begin with and two, not left a conversation with any type of futuristic game plan. These two items are paramount to be appropriately, professionally pushy.

On any actor subject such as representation or the parameters of a shoot, you have got to be sure before you get into the conversation that you know what you’re trying to accomplish in the meeting, email or chat. You must gather information so that you know what the other party is thinking. There are tons of words in the English language that have massively varied meanings inside another person’s head…and especially in this business. Start getting into the habit of asking folks how they would like you to proceed? Get the answers from them, as to how you are going to be pushy in the future. For example, if you give someone your demo reel per their request, do not leave it with them without asking what I call a question/statement: “So do you need that for about a week or more like two?” Whatever their answer is, it is a parameter from which you can be professionally pushy. If they say something like “…sure a week or so should be fine.” Then thank them, but follow up with “Great, I’ll just give a call and come by to pick it up on about the (fill in a date in your conversation that is specifically about 7-14 days from the day you’re having the conversation).”

What you’ve now accomplished by using this technique is established a time line of specificity based on what they want. This is how you go about making it their idea, but giving you the latitude to then intelligently follow up and be mildly pushy without it being something out of the blue to them. This is the same with how long a representative needs to get back to you on a decision to represent you, the same as clarifying parameters about certain elements of a shoot you may be concerned about or any other matter you have with any business communication or transaction in this profession.

For whatever reason most actors I know just sort of leave things to silence and assumption and then wonder why they feel in the dark and without a way of knowing how to proceed. Also remember that if you meet someone out at either a pure social gathering or even an industry related event like a premiere it is important to clarify the concept of professionally pushy versus being inappropriate. Professionally pushy is more often associated, to me, with a second effort or follow up and not about your initial engagement. Far too many actors see a chance meeting as the big shot to play an angle at that moment with whomever they’ve met, been introduced to, or wound up talking to. This is simply inappropriate and has nothing to do with professionally pushy. Please do not confuse the two. If you find yourself at the gym, or a coffee shop, or just in the right place at the right time here is how you play that scenario. Simply be fun, charming, yourself and have a good chat. Be sure to get their name when introduced, and/or be sure to re-state your name and say that it was a pleasure to meet them before your depart. If it feels easy and natural ask for their business card, and do NOT give them yours. If it isn’t then be sure to have your friend, or someone who knows them be sure to give you their full name. If they’re a legit person in L.A. or anywhere else, then finding their professional mailing information should not be difficult. Then, simply send them a kind note within two days stating what a pleasure it was to meet them.

Over the course of the next 9-12 months just drop them a line, wishing them the best with whatever aspect of their career they’re involved in, mention that perhaps someday…you’ll have the pleasure of working together. This is yet another way to be professionally pushy after the fact, not during it.