By Tess Shanahan

Ask a model what the hardest thing has been in their career and the answer will likely be ‘getting noticed’. Finding and securing the right agency and landing regular jobs, would also be up there. Even as a seasoned model, work can sometimes get really quiet. Disconcerting much? Hell yes.

If I’m honest, even when you’ve been signed by an agency and you’re landing paid gigs – most models still need to rely heavily on networking to ensure work stays (somewhat) consistent and to avoid having to move back in with the folks. If you don’t invest time into networking and self-promotion, you’re not giving yourself the best possible chance of landing good jobs – even if you have an incredible agent like I do.  As we know, there’s only so much an agent can do – you’re not their only client after all.

The rise of social media has certainly made it easier for models to connect and work with other creatives. It has given us more of a chance to get our names out there. Gigi’s brand exploded on Instagram almost overnight. Kendall had the most likes of all time on Instagram. Australia’s Bambi has nearly quarter of a million followers on the platform. Many of the most celebrated models and personalities have found their fame on Insta. But let’s be real, an Instagram page in isolation doesn’t entirely cut it for the majority. And as for Facebook groups, what else can I say but “meh”.

tess shanahan
tess shanahan

This is why I’ve become just a little bit obsessed with a new app called CoLab that came out about two months ago. It’s basically like Tinder (minus the creeps) for talent on both sides of the lens – mostly models, photographers and stylists. Powered through Instagram, it allows models to self promote, photographers to scout talent, and stylists to find projects, without a middleman. My photographer mates can call castings (without agents), set and manage projects, and find suppliers locally and globally through an in-built GPS locator. Pretty cool stuff. But what I like most is that by directly connecting me with other fashion professionals, I now have control over my work and career – adios mum and dad. Recommend trying it out.

Beyond this, don’t underestimate the power of networking (go to events!) and social media when it comes to getting your personal brand out there. All platforms are important – even LinkedIn. In fact, you’ll find that most agents, photographers, stylists, head-hunters and big brands are on there. Whenever you meet someone related to the industry, it’s a good idea to connect with them on LinkedIn straightaway. But make sure you personalise your message – nothing worse than a generic request. To sum it up, don’t be shy – attend events, look awesome on social, and let new technology like CoLab be your friend.tess shanahan