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Almost a year ago now, I began seriously building my voice-over business. One of the first things I did was find Facebook groups on the subject and lurk. Not the shady guy in a trench coat hanging out at the bus terminal kind of lurking. Just the hangin’ around being antisocial and weird kind of lurking.

Now, I know lurking sounds bad, but it isn’t always. You can learn a lot by simply reading the posts that others have written and gleaning nuggets from the answers they receive. Frequently, value is found in taking the time to research past history in the groups.

Eventually I did step out and asked a few questions of my own. I have learned a lot by doing this, but you might not suspect the most surprising thing I have found. Friendliness. Acceptance. Encouragement. Generosity. From a person new to the industry at the time, this was shocking.

My history in radio had been totally different. I personally knew people who never went on vacations because they were afraid of losing their jobs to their replacement. It can be pretty cutthroat. When I was new in graphic design, I was turned away by working professionals who could never find the time or patience to answer questions from a newcomer. The expectation is that you have to “earn your dues”, which means make all the mistakes and learn all the lessons the hard way just like they did. The stab you in the back, dog-eat-dog world of work isn’t typically the most touchy-feely place.

My initial engagement with the voice-over industry was totally different. People welcome you. They answer questions from the uninitiated. They provide valuable feedback and advice and do so with kindness. That has so not been my normal.

Of course there are exceptions. There are those who bristle at one more new person asking a question that has been answered many times before, and there are those who simply don’t bother to answer. That’s okay. There is also a disproportionate amount of genuinely nice people who want to greet you hospitably and offer a virtual handshake with a smile. I must say this has been the most encouraging part of this journey so far.

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