Male Model Career Requires Networking With Other Models
Most people think being accepted by a modeling agency is the only way to become a model. The majority of modeling agencies don't want to deal with anyone who cannot earn tens of thousands of dollars each year, thereby bringing in a hefty commission to the agency. The more the guy gets hired as a model, the more the agency earns. Generally, these "middle men" will help very few newbies get a career going. So, rather than making a modeling contract your only chance for entrance into the modeling business, you can get your career off the ground on your own - before any really good agents are interested in selling your looks. This is where networking comes in.
The old adage, "It's not what you know, but who you know," is very true in the world of male modeling. It's not only how hot you look, but how many professionals you know that can bring you success.
What is networking?
Networking is building business relationships with professionals like big-time photographers, stylists, creative staff at chain store headquarters, advertising agency executives and others who actually hire and pay models. It entails meeting these individuals on a face-to-face basis, letting them see your physical assets, professionalism and providing a preview of the personality they might be working with. As in many other career fields, building a network with real pros takes time and savvy. And, there can be pitfalls along the way.
Who should be in your network?
Other male models, big-time photographers who hire models, photo stylists, advertising agency staff and retailers should be the objects of your networking. Don't waste your time with small-time photographers and others who don't really hire models. Big-time photographers are generally found in big cities - with a few exceptions. Be prepared to do a little traveling (at your expense) in order to widen your network, if necessary.
How to network
It is easy. First, get yourself to where professionals will be. Be prepared to exchange your contact information on paper. Giving your email address verbally is not smart. Then simply exchange contact info with pros you meet. Ask "Can I get your email address?" Get to know photographers, retailers, advertising professionals, stylists and other models. Ask them about current trends and needs in the industry. Let them know about your strong points.
Follow Up Within 48 Hours
Once you meet a pro, follow up with an email message. The person may not remember your name but will remember your face, so include your photo in your email message. What you say in your message is up to you. Let them get to know you as a person and as a professional. Do not phone a professional unless they specifically instruct you to do so.
Don't put all your networking eggs in one basket
When you start networking, don't stop meeting professionals as soon as you find your first pro. Don't grow complacent - even if a good opportunity appears to be knocking. Just because one photographer contacts you or promises you a job, he or she may not result in any help to you.
Where You Can Meet Modeling Pros
This is the tough part. The professionals you want to network with will likely not be located in your hometown. You can't network with professionals by hanging out at your local Dairy Queen. You need to do to where the pros will be!
Get involved with any place or event that puts you out front and meeting professional photographers, models and stylists.
Sometimes you agree to do a modeling job or go to an audition because doing so will also give you the opportunity to meet professionals - to network. How much you earn for the job is secondary, so don't hesitate to take a low-paying job that puts you where you can network and get noticed.
Trade shows (whether or not in the fashion industry) are great places to meet and network with other modeling professionals. And these are the places where you will meet the folks who actually hire models and approve campaigns. In many cases, photographers just work for the companies involved in trade shows. It's the trade show people you need to impress the most.
Traveling to Vegas to work as a model for one of the exhibitors at the Magic Men's Apparel Trade Show, held each February and August, is very smart. Hundreds of clothing and underwear manufacturers hire models to stand at their booths at this multi-day trade show and exhibition. Apparel makers also hire models to model their clothing during runway shows at Magic. When you go to an event like Magic, you have a chance to meet pros.
Let's say you meet pros named Susan, Ted and Rick. Susan is a casting agent who hires talent for TV commercials, Ted is a big-time photographer who shoots all the ad campaigns for a major sportswear line and Rick hires extras for music videos. Susan, Ted and Rick are not going to "see" you if you are always in your hometown. You need to get yourself to the same spot where these pros will be. Then you have a chance to be seen and "network."
For aspiring fitness models, events such as the Arnold Classic, held each spring in Columbus, Ohio, is a great event to meet potential magazine staff and fitness photographers who hire muscular males.
One last important point before you start networking: not all networking is good. Read how connecting with the wrong people can hurt you.
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