One of my favorite things that happens in this glorious industry of ours is that we’re quick to lean on our Webs of Trust. As we should be! If we’re smart about how we’ve built our relationships and if we’re constantly connecting our favorite people with one another, sharing connections should feel great (and should pay off beautifully, long term).

One of my least favorite things that happens in this glorious industry of ours is that some folks are quick to drop the names of people they *think* will be beneficial to drop. They do no homework. They’ve done no research. They’re not connecting via Web of Trust as much as they’re hoping for leverage. And boy does that stink from a mile away!

When I was in Atlanta last month, an actor approached me after a speaking engagement and said, “So-and-so says hi!” Now, “so-and-so” is a director of a theatre company with which I performed DECADES ago. The good news is, I adored working with this company director. I have nothing but fond memories about this person and this company and my time on stage, in rehearsals, and touring with this group. So, whether this particular actor had a way of researching that out and knowing it for sure or not is unknown. But her name-drop paid off. I was able to immediately say nice things about our shared connection and it gave me a nice placeholder for this actor, because her Web of Trust looks pretty good (at least in this first encounter).

But this sort of casual convo has also gone “the other way” of course. An actor rushes up and says, “So-and-so says hi!” and it’s someone who not only screwed me over, left me heartbroken, and flat-out done me wrong but who possibly also still owes me money.

My mind immediately goes to the “ugh… THAT GUY” space and as much as I want to think positively about the eager young actor who feels this connection is a good thing, all I can think about is how there’s a day down the line when this actor will realize this “so-and-so” is not a good guy. And I’m already feeling for him. He’s got something to learn. I hope the lesson won’t be as brutal as it was for me.

How can you know whether name dropping is a good idea?

Research, obviously. Loads of it. Not just the stuff that tells you there’s been a mutual connection in the history of someone’s resumé but also that gets you some details on the depth of it. A history of multiple gigs together is one thing, sure. But how recent was that latest shared gig? Is the producer whose name you’re dropping with a casting director one who has since hired a different CD for her last few projects? Think about why that may have happened.

An agent may still have your actor friend on his client list at IMDb, but if that actor’s not booking and is, in fact, actively shopping for other representation, the name drop may just make both parties sour. Worse… sour on YOU. Because just like when you ask someone a question that takes them to the negative areas in their memory’s database while they’re looking at YOU, the human mind cannot help but let some of that energy seep over.

As fun as it is to drop names, to feel you’ve created a common connection due to a really spectacular name drop, or to hopefully shortcut the system by dropping names, please always keep in mind that unless you’ve heard someone say the words, “Oh man! I *ADORE* her!” when you bring up her name to him, that person’s name dropped *to* her may actually do your brand more harm than good.

Show bible this stuff. Keep it all very very very well chronicled. It may seem boring and silly not at all relevant at this moment, but there will be another moment down the line at which it will be so helpful for you to have squirrelled away a little detail like, “Besties” or “Worked together before but… not for a while lately.”

Just like bringing co-stars into your brand hybrid can be risky, bringing co-stars into your introductions can be too. Let the most important name in these introductions be YOURS.

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 Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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