We have a very small, invitation-only offering coming up through Self-Management for Actors and we’ve been making a lot of lists, basically using the “fantasy dinner party” scenario. You know this one, right? It’s the question: “Whom would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?” Basically, you set the table and pull together an imaginary list of attendees that would bliss you out the most.

Whose company would enhance the experience of every other participant in this event? Whose stories would complement one another’s stories? Whose personalities would click, which folks would “Yes, and…” one another, who’d leave the event better off for having experienced these fellow diners?

It’s a fun game and sometimes, we get to actually bring together versions of our fantasy dinner parties, thanks to being in casting, hosting networking events, or creating collaborative environments for creatives around the world. Pretty cool.

So, two things this week: One, think about whom you’d have at the table in your fantasy dinner party. You can do one list where it’s the “living or dead, from any time in history” version, and then another where it’s the “people I actually could encounter in my lifetime” version. Heck, you can do several of these, and come up with fantasy dinner parties for various tiers of your experience in the industry.

Why is it that each of these folks gets on the list, to come sit at your table? Is it their charisma, their history, the stories they will tell, what you could learn from them, what they may tell you about perspective on your journey, that they will invariably make you laugh, what? Really think about what attracts you to a certain population. And think about what you could give back to it.

Personally, I’m intrigued by thought leaders in technology, entrepreneurship, spirituality, and writing. While I spend a lot of my time with directors and producers, agents and managers, publicists and actors, it’s often those whose worlds are not quite so similar to mine who fascinate me the most. Because the challenge becomes finding where there *are* similarities and celebrating that we can come together without having had the same life experiences, I have fun with this challenge. Of course, I have fun jamming with showrunners, fellow casting directors, and tons of actors regularly, so there’s a version of my fantasy dinner party in which there’s a mixture of these folks, learning whose personalities do well outside of their comfort zone and which ones do not.

That’s the first thing: Come up with various dinner party guestlists. Share ’em with me, if you’d like (my email address is below). Be sure to tell me why you seated Steven Pressfield next to Iggy Azalea. Gimme the scoop on how it is that Melissa Harris-Perry ended up next to Deepak Chopra. And do tell; what was it that Olivia Munn said to crack Katt Williams up like that?

Next up, hit a networking event — it’s December, so I know you have a few coming up, whether they’re holiday open houses being put on by agencies or cocktail parties hosted by theatre companies — with a wingman (you know I always recommend that tactic anyway) and agree to spend some time away from one another, to get better coverage in the room.

When my hubs and I are out and about, we’re rarely next to each other. We get better coverage by connecting with other folks, mixing and mingling, and then comparing notes on the way home. We can talk each other up and we can leave having connected with more folks than if we sat or stood together the whole time.

So, hit an event or two with a wingman from whom you split for an hour, but keep periodic eye contact from across the room, in case either of you needs an assist. Think about not only what you end up saying about each person after you part ways but what they may be saying about you. That last part is not to micromanage or stress out about anyone else’s opinion, but to check in on your auto-fill (remember that?) and be sure you’re leaving every encounter with a sprinkling of brand YOU, as intended.

Yes, I’ve found a way to turn parties into ninja homework. Good. Get to work. 😉 And lemmeknow how it goes!

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001905.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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