This is the third installment of a three-part advice column to help you make your demo reel.
1. Set up your online presence.
Set up a website. Keep it simple and provide the information you think someone looking at you would expect. There are many options for setting up a simple website, and a number of them can make you look really professional.
Your resume and contact information should be fairly accessible. Also spend some time showing off your personality. Brand yourself and what you do, so it is clear in a few moments who you are and what you can do for your visitors.
2. The Internet can work…but usually doesn’t.
Applying to jobs online is not a good way to find work. The truth is, as soon as a job posts, it’s deluged with hopefuls. The person who opens that inbox is faced with hundreds of subject lines screaming “Pick me!” It’s entirely random luck that the recruiter chooses your email above others.
When it comes to online job hunting, think “carpet bombing.” Just sling that shit anywhere you can. If you see specific job postings, great—but consider online forums, social networks and email blasts to friends.
Putting your reel on the internet means that it might be found, and that is a good reason to put it there. However, this also means that it probably won’t be found. Do not expect that online hunting will net the results you want.
3. Develop a lead pipeline.
The most valuable asset you have is your lead pipeline. Luckily, a simple, attractive website and carpet-bombing will support it. You need to find that specific person who is looking for you, so you can make a connection and have them evaluate your work with you in mind. For your own sanity, document this process.
- Write down everyone you know in any way related to any part of what you are going after. This can be a broad list, from your mother to a speaker you saw at a conference. You never know where a lead can come from.
- Strategize a way to contact each of them. Some will be very easy. Some you might meet for coffee in two weeks. Some you will not hear back from for three weeks. Some will be a waste of your time.
- Each case is different, and it is important for you to strategize differently about each one. When you have a communication session with one of the leads, write it down! The list will evolve as you learn more.
- Meeting potential leads for coffee can be fun, but it can be disappointing. Chances are they may not have the job you are looking for. But they might know of someone else who does, or might have heard of someone who will know more. If they do know someone, strategize a way to meet that next lead, whether it is an email introduction or getting invited to a party they are throwing.
- Always pay for the coffee and then hurry back to update your lead pipeline with new information.
- Be patient. This process can go on for some time. (It took me months to find a job once, and I had years of experience to back up my work.) Every new connection is an opportunity for that person to review your reel. That connection, while difficult to make, is of far greater value than randomly slinging your work around.
So, that’s it. It’s tough, I know. We’ve all been there, and I’ve certainly had my share of demo reels and networking.
Do the hard work, get that reel looking good, and get it out there.
Photo by Lex Gjurasic.