When you dream about working some amazing job in a really competitive industry, it's a total buzz-kill when you don't have any connections to that industry. Right?
I mean, when your Mom's friend doesn't produce movies, or your cousin's roommate doesn't work at a record label, or your Uncle isn't the head of NBC, how on earth are you supposed to break in?
Those were my thoughts exactly, when I moved to LA from Philly with a HUGE dream of working in the film industry. I did not have a single connection. Zero.
But don't you worry, because my story has a happy ending. If you've attended my webinars, you know that I have worked on over 20 television shows. OVER 20. That's crazy. Like, really crazy. For a girl from Philly who didn't know a soul, to this booming career...just crazy.
I feel like I cracked the code. I figured out how to break into an industry without having connections. It's like this secret formula that works every time.
And not just for me. But now my LA Bounders are doing it, too. It's mind-blowing and so freakin' cool.
I want to share this secret with you. I want to show you my techniques, so I hope you're on the edge of your seat!
Before I dive in and show you, though, I have to give you a warning: this formula involves hard work.
This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. (Or a land-your-dream-job-tomorrow scheme.) It WILL get you awesome results, but you're going to have to actually do the steps. You have to put the work into it.
I know you know this. You're one of the smart ones. You're here because you know that anything worth going after is going to be tough, otherwise everyone and their mother would be doing it.
But I just wanted to remind you.
Cool, here we go!
There are THREE major steps that create this formula. Let's start with Step #1.
step 1: get really freakin' clear
You have to get really clear about what dream you're going after. When people are wishy-washy, or half-assed about it, the dream never happens.
I'm talkin' about never.
And when this happens, people blame it on other factors.
"Eh, I'm interested in going in a different direction now..."
"My agent just isn't doing a good job..."
But most of the time, it comes down to not being clear about what you want.
So, what do YOU want?
You may think you know. But I bet you're not being specific enough.
You need to be uber specific.
If you want to be an actor, what kind of acting do you want to do? Theater? Film? TV? Character roles? Comedy? Drama?
You can certainly want to do all these things, but when you're trying to break in, it's better to focus on one. Then you can start doing all the other things you're interested in.
Once you figure it out, and you're like, "OK, Erica! I know what I want! I'm clear! I'm specific!", then you need to add a deadline and write it on an index card (my man Jack Canfield taught me that.) You can download the free cheat sheet that has a space for your index card goal right here.
By December 20, 2019, I will be a successful working actor as a series regular lead on a TV series for ABC. My primary source of income will come from acting.
Specific, with a deadline. That's how you turn a big dream into a real goal.
Now, hang that index card on your bathroom mirror and stare at it every single day. Get that goal seeped into your subconscious like a good Netflix binge.
step #2 figure out your stepping stone jobs & land them
When we are SO excited about landing our big dream job, we rarely stop and think about the steps it's going to take to get there. Steps that are really exciting because they are huge accomplishments on the way to the big dream.
For example, if you wanted to be an actor, you probably won't book a leading role in a blockbuster film as your first audition in LA. Of course, anomalies do happen, but this is not the normal course of action. You will usually ned to book smaller roles first.
Every single dream job is going to have different Stepping Stone jobs and you need to find out what yours are.
Some dreams only require one Stepping Stone job. Some will require several. But I promise, each Stepping Stone job that you land in your industry is going to be awesome. It's going to feel good getting that "in", and working in your industry.
(BTDubs, that free Dream Industry cheat sheet has the Stepping Stone map that you see above. You can personalize it for your career, and you should hang it up in your room, or somewhere you will see every day.)
Let me give you another example: my dream job of designing graphics for television, basically only has one Stepping Stone job, but two Stepping Stones to accomplish. To become a Graphic Designer for TV and Film, I have to be an Art PA (Production Assistant) first. Then, I have to get into the Art Directors Guild union. I can't become a Graphic Designer without accomplishing those Stepping Stones first.
So, to go after my dream of becoming a Graphic Designer, I put all my energy into finding an Art PA job, and getting into the union.
When you figure out what your Stepping Stones are, you should put all your efforts into landing those jobs. That's how you speed up the process of breaking into your industry.
You can see why getting really freakin' clear about your dream is so important. If you're not exactly sure what dream job you want, you won't be able to figure out your Stepping Stones, or you'll have way too many all over the place, and that will delay the process.
Another example of Stepping Stones: to be an actor that is a Series Regular on a TV series, you usually have to have experience first. That experience translates into Co-Stars and Guest Stars. Co-Stars usually have one line in a TV show. Guest Stars are essentially supporting characters that have a larger role in the story of an episode (or multiple episodes). Without the Co-Star experience, it's difficult to jump to Guest Star, and even more difficult to jump to Series Regular.
Before you can do any of that, you need to be in SAG-AFTRA, the actors' union.
Each dream will have it's own Stepping Stones. Your job is to find out what they are, and go after them. You want to check each one off your list, and move through them quickly. When you focus on achieving one Stepping Stone at a time, you speed up the process of landing your big dream.
Step #3: Talk to those who have done it
Now you may be thinking, "Ok, Erica, that all makes sense. But what if I'm not sure what my Stepping Stone jobs are?" And that's why this step goes hand in hand with #2.
It's completely normal to not know what those steps are in your dream field, simply because you're not in the field yet.
That's why it's crucial to start talking to people who are already in your field so they can tell you what your Stepping Stone jobs are.
"But Erica, remember, I don't have any connections! How am I going to talk to people in my field??? You're pretty cray."
Yes, I know! I didn't have connections either. That's when I started cold emailing.
I know it's scary, but you have to start reaching out to people you don't know. Find the names of people who are already doing what you want to be doing and flat out ask them what your Stepping Stones are. In the free cheat sheet download, I included a sample cold email that you can totally copy! You can get that here.
Ideally, you want to find people who are a few steps ahead of you, not 50 steps ahead of you. The closer they are to where you are, the easier it will be for them to relate and help you.
To find these people, you can look on sites like IMDb, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, or any other trade magazine for your industry. You can also always do a good ol' Google search.
Bonus #4: Get out of your comfort zone
I know you may be tired of hearing this, but there is a reason it's so prevalent. The only way you can achieve anything great, is to work really hard and try things that the average person isn't willing to try. Like cold calling or emailing people.
Or going to networking events by yourself when you don't have a friend to go with you.
Or signing up for a membership community to get personalized guidance.
These are all things that generally make us uncomfortable. We're like, "eh.. I don't feel like doing that right now."
I get it. I do. But you have to change your mindset. Because as long as you stay comfortable and do things that don't scare you, the longer you'll stay on the outside of your dream career.
You know that if breaking into your dream industry was easy, everyone would be doing it. It's not easy. But you can still do it. You've got this, as long as you're willing to get out of your comfort zone.
Oh, and I dare you to start TODAY. Don't push this off. Make your dreams happen now.