One of the best ways to get an agent is through pay to play workshops and classes such as those offered by One on One, The Network and Actors Connection.
Many actors have expressed disdain over the pay to play side of the business but the fact is that the agent can pick up $300 dollars for a night of work and meet 25 actors which is more appealing than going to a two or three hour play which may not be very good, see less actors and not make a dime. Who can blame them! I have a few agents which I have obtained this way. They send me out regularly for commercials, TV and film. Once you have an agent that is getting you out a few times a week, it’s not necessary to get another agent unless they have access to other casting directors, writers, producers, etc… that don’t have their projects posted on breakdowns. Or they are an agency with name clout that always gets called for roles first. Most of the smaller agencies can get you appointments particularly for smaller roles, indies and lots of commercials.
Another fantastic way to get an agent is being referred by a friend or industry person who knows your work. It is, also, a compliment to an agent to refer actors to him/her because it means you respect them and think highly enough of their abilities to recommend him/her (the agent) to a friend. Make sure the person you’re asking for a referral truly knows your work! Why should they put their name and reputation on the line otherwise?
Also, work begets work so find challenging roles and have fun! You’ll naturally meet people that will introduce you to other film makers, play writes, agents, etc..
I don’t know anyone that has obtained an agent through mailings. Although, I still think they should be done, to let people know what you’re working on.
Last, but most importantly, think of yourself as your best agent!! At the end of the day no one can manage your career, track it, set goals and put in as many hours towards your success as yourself. And remember there are more letters in business than there are in show! So treat your career as a business!! Otherwise you may be brilliant acting up a storm in your garage, but who will know?
Now lets get focused and get an agent!