LEARN ABOUT DREAM CAREERS
In certain careers, it's not enough to be talented and want to share it with the world — there's a process. You need to have someone with clout put in a good word for you, make a few phone calls, and then things start to happen. These "people with clout" are called agents, and signing with an agent is what you'll want to do to take your dreams to the next level.
Be careful though, because you don't necessarily want to sign with the first agent who'll take you. Like any other business, there are agents who are great at what they do, and those who are mediocre. You want to ask your agent pointed questions about what they will do for you.
Also, you need to find the right agent for you. Some agents have niches or represent the same type of talent time and time again. They have the advantage of experience and connections in your industry to take your career where it needs to go.
You can expect an agent to find you work, help you prepare your promotional materials, bill and collect for your services, and negotiate payment for you. However, an agent is not exactly a career manager. They are there to help you get work, and have a vested interest in your career, but are not as intimately involved with directing your career as a manager would be.
An agent may discover you when you are performing at an amateur level, or you may be recommended to an agent by another professional in your industry who recognizes your talent. There may also be industry events where agents gather to see the latest talent perform. These are the easy ways to find an agent.
The more challenging (but usual) way to find an agent is by preparing packages of your demo, your materials, or some other manifestation of your talent, and mailing it to the agent's office. If he or she is interested, you'll get called in for a meeting.
To find agents to send your materials to, see if your industry has trade publications that publish agency names and contact information. If you are unsure, contact a professional association for the industry and ask. Some agencies are more open to newcomers than others, and the ones listed in trade publications are usually interested in discovering new talent. You can also search the Internet for "talent," "agency," and variations of your dream career's name.
When you send your materials to an agent, enclose a letter that states that you are looking for representation, what recent related education or experience you have had, any highlights in your career history, and if possible, where the agent can come to see you perform.
If you don't hear back from an agent after sending your materials, it might be tempting to contact them, but be aware that in the entertainment business, it's strictly "Don't call me; I'll call you." What you can do is send an email, hand-delivered note, or even one of your promotional postcards to remind them of your package, as well as any updates on your recent successes. Don't take rejection personally — you may not be a fit with that particular agency, but you'll find one that will want to work with you.
When you do hear back from an agent, it's time to go meet them and see what they can do for you. They'll be feeling you out as well, and will ask questions about where you see yourself heading, what your career goals are, and how your career has been going to date.
If the agency asks you to sign on with them, you are going to have a number of questions for them as well. Signing with an agent most often means that you are agreeing to let them represent you exclusively, so you want to be sure that the deal meets your needs. Here are some questions to consider:
If you decide that the agent is right for you, congratulations! With talent, persistence, and professional representation, you could go far in your dream career.
Click here to find a career you can be passionate about.
by Jennifer James:
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