It has been about two months since I graduated with my degree(s). Since then, I have moved back to a market I haven't been in regularly for four years. I thought I had an action plan going in; however, during one of my vacation days, I had a moment where I realized
I HAVE NO PLAN. I ONLY HAVE QUESTIONS.
How do I get seen by [x] casting director? How do I audition with sides that don't look like they flow at all? What is my age range in the "real world" (because it was around 45 in college)? How do I find a community of people that will support me? What classes are great and which opportunities are scams?
And plenty more of which I won't get into. The best part about this epiphany-slash-breakdown was that my plan became more specific. As in, I actually started writing things down, Googling, listening to podcasts; I started to answer my own questions.
However, I'm getting a bit off-track here. The title of this blog post included a reference to caffeine. I'm a matcha person myself, but coffee is a great way to reconnect with people, such as those who you haven't worked with in four years because you were busy getting a degree on the other side of the country (read: me).
I dug through my previous email addresses to find contact information for theatre people who I had worked with and had as friends on Facebook. Then, I emailed those people with something along the lines of, "Hey! Remember me? Well here's what I've been up to [blablabla]." Now here comes the important part--to catch their attention, you must mention something of theirs that you resonated with. It is so easy to career-stalk people these days, whether that's through Google Alerts, LinkedIn, Facebook. And it's even easier when you care about this person and what they are doing. By mentioning that, you are letting them know that you are invested in their lives and not just emailing everyone you know.
When asking someone for an informational meeting or a catch-up, you have to remember that networking is not a one-way street. You must provide something in return for their time, and it doesn't always have to be material. For example, go to their play/cabaret/reading/class or even recommend a good book/show you think they might like. In addition, show that you are grateful, whether that is verbally or (my personal favorite) a handwritten note or card expressing thanks.
This summer is going to be a caffeinated one. I am determined to go on as many coffee catch-ups as possible and learn as much as I can about what happened in the last four years. Even though I've been a diligent reader of Playbill, TheaterMania, BroadwayWorld, and Deadline, nothing beats news from people who put in the work.