In Hollywood we have a term called a “general,” referring to a “general meeting.” Since much of this industry is who you know (and whether or not you’re a chill yet professional person to deal with), generals are a great way to bridge that gap from respectable email rapport to “let’s find something to work on together.”
Here are some tips to avoid a tragic first impression…
1. Don’t Be Late
Yes, we know traffic is bad, but when is it not? Give yourself plenty of time to get there plus any additional time to decipher a slew of street parking signs. Being on time is especially important if you’re the one that called the meeting or asked to meet someone to pick their brain. Don’t waste their time waiting for you. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
2. Don’t Bring Your Headshot
This goes out to all the actors out there. I beg of you, don’t do this. The meeting is really to find out what you are like beyond your headshot, website or reel. They liked you enough from whatever referral they had to you (most likely your website or a trusted colleague that introed you via email), so simply be prepared to answer questions (and ask some in return), but leave the promo material at home.
*If you feel uneasy about this suggestion, tuck it away in a notebook or portfolio/folder that you can refer to if (and only if) they ask you for your headshot.
3. Don’t Flake
This kind of goes with “Don’t Be Late” but, if you called the meeting, don’t ask to reschedule. You run the risk of looking flakey, and people will absolutely remember it. If you’re the receiver of the invitation, don’t overbook yourself if you know your schedule is too damn tight. It is 100% okay to say that you are overcommitted, and ask for them to follow up with you in X amount of days, weeks, etc. Honesty is always the best policy.
4. Don’t Bash Anyone
You may be tempted to swap war stories from set but, as the saying goes, Hollywood is a small town. Be careful who you divulge information to. Even if the person you are telling this to is trustworthy, the coffee shops have ears and are a prime way to end up on @overheardla. Don’t be that person.
5. Don’t Forget to Send a Thank You Email
It doesn’t have to be a novel or even a handwritten card (although that’s a classy touch if you feel it’s warranted). But, if you asked for the meeting, you need to send something as a follow-up. A short and sweet email goes a long way.