In the attitude of silence,
the soul finds the path
in a clearer light,
and what is elusive and deceptive
resolves itself into crystal clearness.Mahatma Gandhi
I am and have always been a voice-over actor in my soul. I am passionate about my work and cannot imagine my life if I didn’t express myself creatively behind the microphone. However, even with my boundless enthusiasm for and commitment to my voice-over work and clients, my soul also needs quiet time for nourishment and relaxation.
Whenever we travel for pleasure, I notify agents and clients that I will be unavailable for recording within a range of dates. I have thought many times about taking a portable voice-over studio when I travel. In reality, though, my desires to travel lightly and enjoy fun, uninterrupted time with Drew coupled with the airlines’ increasingly smaller allowances for checked luggage have deterred me from including a portable studio with my baggage.
As a business owner, I always have a laptop on these trips. I check my voice mail and e-mail throughout my vacation so that I can quickly respond to potential clients. Since I’m usually paying high per-minute charges for phone and computer access, it’s easy to limit the time spent in those activities while on vacation.
I must also feed my soul in small ways during my regular working days, so I choose to limit time for all on-line activities, especially for social networking. I have read messages from many voice talent who seem to feel that they must have a presence on every social networking site. Perhaps my thoughts on these sites will be helpful to others.
The whole purpose of networking — whether face-to-face or in a virtual community — is to build relationships.
The number of voice-over blogs and social networking sites is dizzying. If you feel overwhelmed by choices, consider your goal and time available for each site before signing up for it. Do you only want name recognition, or do you want to develop in-depth relationships? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Who do you want to reach, and where might those people hang out? Answering these questions will help you decide your approach to social networking.
Rather than merely having a presence on a site like MySpace, Facebook or any other site, I strive to be an active participant. I have discovered that once you join and connect to people on one site, they invariably want to connect with you on every other site for which they are a member.
I don’t see the value to connecting with the same people on every site. I also am not a person to collect “friends” or “contacts” simply for the sake of having a large number of names. Names on a screen lack meaningfulness to me unless I can get to know the person behind the name. Otherwise, it’s like collecting sea shells to pass the time while you’re on the beach and never looking at them again when you return home.
As a marketer, I fully appreciate the power of having your name, contact info and voice-over demos on as many sites as possible. I recently commented on that point in response to my friend Dave Courvoisier’s blog:
I was blessed with a fascinating and in-depth response to that entry from Evan Wright in which he compared voice-over work to the number of thriving Chinese restaurants in New York City. Evan pointed out a seemingly hidden benefit to subscribing to one or more of the casting sites:
“Your clientele will be attracted to you due to the “choices” on YOUR menu, in the sense that you have multiple methods in marketing your name and talent out there in the world.”
In other words, we shouldn’t dictate to our potential clients the manner in which they must find and communicate with us! By having multiple listings, we tap into the CLIENTS’ PREFERRED METHOD of communication and therefore stand a greater chance of conducting business with them.
From that standpoint, Dave and my friend Bob Souer really get it. They have linked with dozens of voice talents and created memberships on multitudes of sites so that potential clients can find them using the prospect’s preferred method of communication. In fact, I only know both of these gentlemen due to their Internet marketing. Their voice work is excellent, and they are very nice people. I have them on my short list for referrals should a client request a male voice talent.
I admire Dave and Bob for their time commitment in creating and maintaining all of those relationships. I suspect they may be extroverts, or people who are energized by other people.
I, on the other hand, am most definitely an introvert. I’m not at all shy, especially when it comes to self-promotion of my voice-over business. Being an introvert means that I draw my energy from solitary pursuits. A fascinating article about introverts in Atlantic Monthly perfectly sums up the views of this 25% of the population:
For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping,
as nourishing as eating.
In addition, I am well aware that my words in cyberspace will live on into perpetuity, so I choose to add to conversations only when I can provide a thoughtful, substantive comment. I also don’t have hours each day available for professional reading. For these reasons, I limit my blog subscriptions and site memberships.
At the moment, you will find me only on a select few social networking sites: LinkedIn, Twitter, and Voiceover Universe. I decided to use Twitter as a microblog, and I invite you to follow me. If you have looked at the Twitter site, it may seem like a lot of inane chatter of self-absorbed people who document their every stomach growl. Andrew Hedges wrote an insightful blog entry about Twitter stemming from a lively discussion on LinkedIn which may persuade you of Twitter’s merits.
Since I am an introvert, I am proceeding cautiously in following others on Twitter. If I see that a person posts their every movement and thought or tweets (writes) more than a few messages in one day, I will stop following them. With so many thoughts constantly streaming from a single person, I am likely to miss something of great interest from someone less prolific.
As an aside, I truly believe that a lot of people who are excessively using Twitter and other social networking sites are or soon will be suffering from a case of Internet addiction. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same group of people has or will experience cubital tunnel problems from cell phone addiction.
By consciously removing myself from the busy distractions of the cyber world, I nourish my soul with the quiet, reflective time of a mental vacation. With daily mental vacations and occasional physical ones, I am rejuvenated and more creative. Even more importantly, I have the quiet time to perceive the guidance I need to reach my destiny.