Welcome back! This week we will be discussing what it takes to take your career to the next level in the entertainment industry. The objective of today’s article is to help you create opportunities for yourself and make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Topics to be covered include what you know vs. who you know, establishing connections and making yourself indispensable.

What you know vs. who you know

Let’s get one thing straight: in this industry, it goes without saying that ANYONE who wants to have even the slightest chance of making it must already have the skill-sets necessary for your particular field. Think about it… how embarrassing would it be if you have a great connection to someone who can help you further your career, they give you a chance to prove yourself and you blow it because you’re not as good as the other 1 million people vying for the same spot? You must be actively honing and perfecting your craft every single day so you are ready to show and prove yourself when your time comes! My point is this: before you even start to think about getting in front of people who can change your life, you must make sure you are ready; otherwise you will have essentially wasted an incredible opportunity.

That being said, it doesn’t matter how talented you are at what you do, because if no one ever sees or hears you, you will not be able to move forward in your career. The point I am trying to make is talent should be an absolute given in the equation, but talent alone will not be enough to get you where you want to be.

Establishing Connections

The best place to start when trying to find connections to the industry is to ask your family and friends if they know ANYBODY who could possibly know ANYBODY! You MUST play six degrees of separation in order to establish your first connections, and this is incredibly easier in 2012 then it was even 10 or 20 years ago. Social media sites like facebook, google plus, twitter, linkedin and myspace are incredible tools you have at your disposal, and you would be amazed at how many connections you may have even going one or two connections deep. Think about it… if you have 500 facebook friends and you ask each of them to contact everyone in their network of connections, you are already looking at a minimum of 5-10,000 connections! I cannot emphasize this enough as even one small connection to your industry may lead to bigger and better things if you can prove yourself to them.

This first connection is key, because once you make an initial connection you can leverage more opportunities for yourself just by being prepared and blowing them away. They may not be the biggest person in your industry, but they most likely know more people who can help you and they will become your biggest cheerleader if you are already extremely talented and ready for the next level. This leads me to another important point… never burn bridges with anyone! You never know who people know, and the last thing you want to do is be on someone’s bad side who can potentially make or break your career.

Making yourself indispensable

By now you are well on your way to finding your first connections and advancing in the direction you want to go, but now you must differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. One great way to do this is to develop multiple skill-sets so you can demonstrate even more value than the rest of your competition. For example, a great producer is usually also a great engineer, possibly a great musician/singer and a great businessperson. In this way, they can fulfill several roles and expand their potential number of opportunities.

You must also be willing to go the extra mile, because if you won’t somebody else will and you will be overlooked. Even if you happen to get an unpaid internship at a studio where you are cleaning and running errands, you’d better make sure you are known as the best cleaner and the friendliest and fastest runner in the building, because this is how you start to prove yourself. Remember, he who can be trusted with little can be trusted with more.

Finally, you must work on your elevator pitch. This is a short, 30-second or less pitch to someone who can decide your fate. It must be kept short because you most likely will catch someone for only a few seconds in an elevator, between tasks or on their way to something much more important. Take the time to work on selling yourself in 50 words or less and you will be amazed at what it can do for you.

My hope is that you will use some of these tactics to break out from the competition and begin to move forward in your career. I am not promising you it will be easy or that you will become an overnight success, but if you continue to form these good habits and actively pursue new leads you will start to make progress. Follow us at @iamjambot and @_signaturesound to keep up with everything we are doing here at the studio.