Take the "Work" Out of Networking - The Importance of a Polished Stage 32 Profile

Take the "Work" Out of Networking - The Importance of a Polished Stage 32 Profile

Take the "Work" Out of Networking - The Importance of a Polished Stage 32 Profile

Karen "Kay" Ross
Karen "Kay" Ross
2 years ago

It’s the tedious but oh-so-necessary maintenance of being in this industry: online presentation. Just as we once toiled over the formatting and tone of a resume and cover letter, so now must we polish our profiles. Selling ourselves can be exhausting, but look at it this way - your Stage 32 profile is your invitation to play! We all love what we do, and we love meeting people that make the experience magical. Here’s your chance to set the tone for your fantasy-project-made-real! So, pour your favorite drink, have a seat, and let’s get to work!

Before you attend another networking event - especially if it’s Introduce Yourself Weekend, our monthly online event (which is happening right now!) to mix and mingle with over 800,000 film, television, and digital media professionals around the world - shape up your calling card! No disrespect, of course. You may have worked hard to have a stunning picture or manicured links, but maybe it’s been a year since you last updated your bio section. Time to prune those hedges!

Your Stage 32 profile tells potential connections everything they need to know to determine if they should welcome you into their network or stride on by. If you only remember three guiding principles as you review your profile, consider: how easy is it for people to find you? Is your invitation to connect clear? In what capacity will they likely reach out to you? A casting director once told me she worked by a “three-click rule” - if it took her more than three clicks to find what she was looking for, then she’d move on. Do what you can to make that “yes” easy.

Let’s take a moment to highlight each entry’s importance and how best to fill each out to maximize your networking impact!

Shape Up Your Calling Card The Importance of a Polished Stage 32 Profile

The Bare Bones

The essential components requested for your profile begin with name, title, location, and occupation. These are the baseline requirements for your profile because you can search for members based on these alone. Please use your given name or how you would introduce yourself with a handshake. Using a company name is against Stage 32 policy, and quite frankly, it doesn’t make sense since the title includes the company you currently work for/run (i.e., “Frank’s G&E LLC. is a Manager at Frank’s G&E LLC.”). Also, please note that “title” indicates what role you are presently employed in, and “occupation” means the positions you could be hired for right now. Be sure you are searchable and accessible by filling these out completely (i.e., make it easy to find you!).

Don’t be afraid to be specific! If you’re looking to connect with local members, then you could get a better response from “Valley Village, CA” than “Los Angeles, CA,” or “Silver Spring, MD” instead of “Washington, D.C.”, or even “Brooklyn, NY” instead of “New York City, NY.” You can always clarify where you can work in your bio, on your resume, or on your website. Similarly, feel free to list multiple occupations. If you are both an on-screen actor and a voice actor, why not list both? Just keep it limited to what you do now. If you used to do stage management ten years ago, but now you only want to be a theatre journalist, then save that past experience for your bio and list “Film/Theatre Journalist” as one of your occupations.

Since we’re still talking about your profile basics, I’d like to take a moment to reinforce the importance of a profile picture. First of all, have one. It’s challenging to build trust with people virtually as it is, but it makes it nearly impossible if people don’t know what you look like. If you choose to use a logo or icon instead, just be sure it says something about you. Networking is about building relationships. We don’t want to relate to your company. We want to connect with you. Once we can relate to you, then there is a chance we’ll want to work on a project with you, but one cannot precede the other.

Shape Up Your Calling Card The Importance of a Polished Stage 32 Profile

As for what kind of photo to use, let’s start with “professional.” A good summation would be: high quality, shows your face and personality, and ideally supports your brand. If you are a director of photography, I would expect a picture with the camera you like using in your hand. If you are a model or on-screen talent, I expect a professional headshot or a glam shot that shows off your best “character.”

As Stage 32 member Gary Craig once wrote, “If you’re portraying yourself as an actor, and an agent, producer, or casting agent goes to your page, and they see a crappy picture of you sitting in your living room a million miles away from the camera, what does that tell them? It tells them that you’re not professional, and they say “next.” In this day and age of technology, there is absolutely no excuse for that.

If you can’t afford professional pictures, EVERYONE has a friend that has a good camera. Go out, and shoot a couple of hundred shots, a handful will probably be acceptable.

This is a visual medium, after all, so make sure you appeal to connections visually.

If you’re not sure how to build your brand, we have an excellent webinar on How to Build Your Online Brand as an Actor or, for those behind the camera, The Art of Networking to Build Your Brand. Not quite what you were looking for? You can actually search the Education section as well - just enter “brand” or “branding” in the box that reads “Search all education.”

Shape Up Your Calling Card The Importance of a Polished Stage 32 Profile

Inviting Conversations with Your Bio

Speaking of brand, let’s talk about your message! What do you want to talk about? If you’ve never spoken to these members before, what would you like them to ask you about? And trust me, they will ask. Like a virtual name badge at a convention, they will see what they can use to start a conversation. Because it’s less about filling them in on your background (you’ve got a credits section and education section for that) and more about creating talking points on where you are. If the background points don’t support your overall message or current mission, consider saving them for your one-on-one coffee date. So, what should you include in your bio? Just enough for them to want to reach out to you.

As the most free-form entry of your profile, the structured answer is: what you’ve done, what you’re doing, what you’d like to be doing, and who you’d like to meet to help you move forward. Often a missing component is also “why you.” If you’re a director, what separates you from other directors? Sometimes selling yourself goes both ways - definitely stipulate what you offer should you join their project, but give them an idea of what they can expect should they join your mission as well. Remember, if the information is already somewhere else on the profile, there’s no need to mention it in the bio. Keep it brief!

Why not take from the experts? I highly recommend reading through these stellar bios: Marjolein Smit as an example of showing personality through writing style, Jeremy S. Walker as an example of keeping it short and sweet, and CJ Walley for owning his mission while offering his services. With over 800,000 members, there are many, many more examples of engaging bios. Why not make it part of your process during Introduce Yourself Weekends? Read posts, then read their bios, and respond to the post from both!

Take the Work Out of Networking The Importance of a Polished Stage 32 Profile

Before you scroll down, check to the far right. There is a section that says, “This Is Your Profile Link.” Since your profile works in a similar capacity as LinkedIn or Backstage, meaning it should be easy to navigate to from other sites, you can similarly change your Stage 32’s link extension.

It defaults to a number, but why not make it match another social media handle? This is a fantastic opportunity to show brand cohesion. This business is incredibly fast-paced, so the easier it is for profile visitors to find you, the more likely they are to see what they need to do business.

A Note on Unique Traits and Physical Attributes

You are under no obligation to fill out this portion. Your physical details are only beneficial for on-screen talent. This is not a dating site, so no one needs to know this information unless you intend to be on screen.

PHOTOS: Sourced from ALL Posts

This is a great place to add additional headshots, film posters, or other promotional or inspirational images. PLEASE NOTE: If you attach an image to a comment or a post, it will show up on your profile. The only instance where it does not attach to your profile is if you include the web link in a post’s text box. Attached photos will automatically update with any posts you make in the lounges, so be mindful of how you post.

Videos can also be added to posts but not to comments. Similarly, they will be made available on your profile. Videos are separate from Links so you can make your reels, samples, or completed projects readily available for any Stage 32 members to review. This is fantastic if you wish to receive feedback on your work or increase your work’s reach.

Shape Up Your Calling Card The Importance of a Polished Stage 32 Profile

Website, blog posts, social media - you can absolutely use your Stage 32 profile to help lead connections to your central hub. Just be sure you have the full link and click it once posted to ensure it is active and correct. Sometimes, members will add the @handle_name where the hyperlink goes, and it’s not enough for an active link.

LOGLINES: The Screenwriter’s Goldmine

This is a genuinely advantageous feature for feedback, promotion, and a universal invitation to collaborate. Again, keep in mind that people will ask about it if you post it, so be prepared for those next steps. You do have the option to keep the logline private. Do you have a script draft, or is it still in treatment form? Are you looking for feedback, or are you ready to start pitching it? A good indication that you’re ready to start pitching your script is if you also have a poster and budget range attached to the logline. Complete the package by posting a copy of the script! Of course, we recommend copywriting any scripts before posting them publicly.

Not yet confident with your logline? Why not submit your script for Coverage with an Industry Reader, which includes a logline by the reader? Don’t feel like a random reader would understand your project? Why not choose an executive specializing in your genre to review your script with Studio Level Coverage, available for both features and television pilots. Once you have peer feedback and a professional revamp, you’ll be ready to post your logline!

Shape Up Your Calling Card The Importance of a Polished Stage 32 Profile

Rapid-Fire Wrap-Up

CREDITS: Don’t want to pay for IMDb Pro? List your credits here! Also, if you don’t want to risk the “three-click” rule, then posting your past credits here helps to inform visitors without turning them away with a lack of sufficient information.

Awards: Time to show off! You could list your awards and achievements in your bio, but you risk making it too long and not as engaging. Take a moment to qualify the success of your credits here!

Education: Did you know by listing your previous schools, it creates a hyperlink to other Stage 32 members who also claim the same alumni status? What an easy way to connect and network! You can also search the most-attended schools of Stage 32 members by clicking here.

Make Upkeep a Scheduled Event

Update your Stage 32 profile regularly! I would suggest putting a calendar event once a quarter to review and update any information: credits, links to work, new information in the bio, or even a new profile picture. Don’t forget to add a notification so the event doesn’t fly by unnoticed!

Have you finished your drink already? How is that profile shaping up? It’s like inviting over the company after you’ve cleaned, isn’t it? Comfortable, welcoming, and fully present for the next steps. Comment with what you updated and invite others to visit! Share any outstanding bios you’ve come across as well!

For more great information on navigating Stage 32, be sure to check out this blog post from Sille Larsen.

Let's hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Got an idea for a post? Or have you collaborated with Stage 32 members to create a project? We'd love to hear about it. Email Emily at emily@stage32.com and let's get your post published!

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About the Author

Karen "Kay" Ross

Karen "Kay" Ross

Filmmaker, Producer, Screenwriter, Script Consultant, Voice Actor, Actor

Kay Ross is an actor, producer, writer, and champion for the "inner teenager.” While being a producer on a television show like Netflix’s “Sex Education” would be a dream realized, for now, she kicks ass on shorts, features, and hosts a weekly IGLive to empower creatives called “The Victory Round.”...

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