Sunday, October 04, 2009

Are You The "Unknown Person In The Red Shirt"? - Five Similarities Between Actors and Business Professionals

Everyone who is a fan of the original Star Trek series knows that time is limited for the unknown actor wearing a RED SHIRT. Any extra who went on an "away mission" to the surface of a planet (with Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the main characters) did not return.

It was always the unknown guy in the red shirt who was killed in every episode. On some planets there were hostile circumstances and someone was going to die. It was never the stars of the show.

What does this have to do with you?" The key for your career is not the red shirt, but being the unknown character. If you are not known in your business community you are vulnerable.

Your reputation, inside and outside your company matters. If you think it is silly when you hear people talk about the importance of establishing a personal and professional brand, you could be the person wearing the red shirt (and not even know it).

Lead characters are rarely killed off on television programs. When it does happen, those popular actors and actresses are quickly re-cast in other shows. Don't believe me? Look at the number of new shows that feature actors you have seen before. There are thousands of people in Hollywood who are seeking roles on television, with many of them waiting tables. Meanwhile, those who the audiences know, like and trust are always have new work.

Using Hollywood as the example... here are five similarities that you need to think about between your career and that of an actor:

1. You have to have talent. There is a lot of competition for roles in the movies and inside companies. Those who are casting the jobs only want to hire people who can prove they can deliver the goods. Make sure you do good work and that people are aware of this up front.

2. Go on auditions. Working actors are always talking to producers, directors and casing agents about other opportunities. They know that their jobs are limited in scope, as even ongoing television shows get canceled. They explore what types of roles are available for them, and they understand that even the stars have to audition. You should keep your eyes open for what else is out there that you would enjoy so that when the time comes to make a move, you are aware of your options.

3. Fame makes a difference. While those who are successful in their business community are not chased by the paparazzi, the people who become "a little bit famous" in their industry are always going to have opportunities. Take advantage of PR opportunities: write articles, speak on industry panels, become a source for reporters and you will find that you will become known as the "go to person". That will make you more valuable in your career.

4. A good agent is a must. Actors are sent to audition for roles because their agents are working for them to uncover opportunities. While a business professional will not have the same type of agent, a supportive network of professional contacts serves the same purpose. When you have other people who keep their eyes open for great opportunities, you will always find new roles.

5. Continue to learn. The best actors take acting classes, work with coaches, and accept roles that are out of their comfort zone to help stretch their skills. In business if you are not learning new things, you are yesterday's news. You cannot rely on your past experience to ensure your future. Too many things are changing. Have you attended a seminar or worked with a coach in the last year? The answer should be "yes".

If you do not regularly take action in these areas of similarity between Hollywood and your career, then you need to look at your shirt color... it is red.

Have A Great Day.


***NOVEMBER / DECEMBER SPECIAL on Business Development Planning. Thom Singer is available to advise individuals and small groups on the power of a personal and professional reputation and brand. If you are interested in expanding your visibility and strengthening your network in 2010 --- it will not happen by accident. Create a plan and a list of actions that can help you harness the power of business relationships in the new year. Contact Thom Singer at thom (at) thomsinger (dot) com or (512)970-0398.


Andrew Weaver said...

Well said. I liked your approach here by in incorporating the old Star Trek series.

The sad thing to me is there seems to be so many who think they need to lay low. Especially in tough economic times. The thinking is if no one notices them, they have less of a chance of being on the chopping block. "Just do your work and don't get into too much trouble." The problem with that kind of thinking is they are setting themselves up to be the first out the door. In essence, they are putting on a red shirt and then hoping no one notices! Of course, we all know what happens from there...

LuAnn Glowacz said...

Thom -- Great advice, as always! This is exactly why I blog: to make sure my clients and potential clients knew that I had a voice in my own industry. I've also learned to not turn down a meeting or networking opportunity because I already have more work than I need. You never know where that new contact will take you (or when you'll need it).

Aruni said...

Love the tie to Star Trek! I'm a closet Trekkie. It's so true about making sure you are a main character. Even if they meet upon bad times, they will find another role. :-)