I’ve talked and written quite a bit in the past about networking and why it’s important for your business. Generally I network with people that run businesses that are very different to mine – after all I don’t meet too many other voiceover artists where I live – but sometimes it’s good to network with your peers too.
You might think that networking with people who are effectively your competition would be a waste of time, but certainly in the world of voiceover nothing could be further from the truth.
When you think about it, everybody’s voice is different – nobody else sounds like me, and I don’t sound like anyone else. This uniqueness means we are all suited to different things. Of course there is an element of competition – there are plenty of other British, female, 30-40s voiceover artists with neutral accents out there, but even then, we can often help each other and collaborate rather than compete.
To illustrate this I’m going to give you some examples.
In 2018 I attended the One Voice conference for voiceover artists, in London, at which I got chatting to a male voiceover artist who works in many of the same fields that I do (e-learning and on-hold messages in particular). I asked him if he could introduce me to some of his e-learning clients, and in return I would introduce him to some of my on-hold clients. It worked a treat – we have both gained new clients, and we continue to pass work to each other when we can. AND our clients were really pleased to be introduced to another reliable voiceover artist of the opposite gender.
In 2019, again at the One Voice conference, I met a Spanish voiceover artist and got talking to him. We kept in touch afterwards through social media, and a few months later I decided to ask him if any of his Spanish clients ever used British voices. He put me in touch with four companies, two of which I have now worked for, and the other two have sent me auditions. I haven’t been able to return the favour yet, but when one of my clients needs a male Spanish voice, I’ll be sending them his way!
At that same conference I met a female British voiceover artist who now lives in France. With the advent of the internet it doesn’t really matter where you are based, so she could be considered to be my competition. However, just before Christmas she contacted me and asked if I could help her out. One of her regular clients had booked her for a job, but she had gone down with a cold. Not only that, but she was due to go on holiday and if there were any script changes or other issues after the recording session, she wouldn’t be able to deal with them. She didn’t want to let her client down, so she needed a similar voice to fill in for her. I was delighted to help out.
Not only have I gained a new client, but she will also have gone up in her client’s estimation because she found them someone to replace her, and they didn’t have to lift a finger. They will remember her for her great customer service, and will I’m sure be using her again.
Last year I took part in an on-line marketing course called League of List Builders run by Jonathan Tilley. Everyone who was on the course was encouraged to pair up with an accountability buddy. I teamed up with another Liz – Liz de Nesnera who is a bilingual French/American voiceover artist. We worked really well together and have kept in touch since completing the course. When a client of mine recently needed both British and American narration for his project, I was pleased to be able to introduce him to Liz. She also did a favour for me when I was in a play that had a scene where the characters were listening to a radio station in America. Liz very kindly recorded the radio interview, for which she was acknowledged in our programme!
On a number of occasions clients have asked me if I can introduce them to other voiceover artists. Sometimes they need a male voice, sometimes it’s a different language, or sometimes a different accent. Recently I had an enquiry where the client was after a northern female. Now, I’ve lived in North Lincolnshire for over twenty years, but I don’t have a northern accent. I explained to the client that I was happy to audition, but I felt I probably wasn’t the best fit for the job – however I offered to introduce them to a couple of northern females. They were really pleased because it saved them trawling the internet looking for someone else. They’d already decided they trusted me, because they approached me with the job, so they were happy to trust me to find them someone else who was equally good.
It pays to tell a client if you’re not quite right for something, rather than try and do it and not make a good job of it. They will be grateful for your honesty, and you’ll save yourself from possible embarrassment. Also, it gives you the opportunity to be useful by finding them someone else (which they will be even more grateful for). AND the people that you find for them will be grateful to you as well, and may return the favour one day.
As the saying goes, what goes around comes around.
So, I believe it’s always better to try and collaborate rather than compete.