How To Be Great At Networking
Did you cringe a little at the title of this blog? Networking is a big concept in our industry and it can have a somewhat tacky association. But don’t fear! By implementing these great tips we may be able to change your perspective!
Make Networking a Regular Activity
You don’t have to wait for a film festival or gala event to reach out to people. There’s the internet! Make it a habit of reaching out to someone whose work you find interesting. Try doing this once or twice a week to get comfortable with it.
Most importantly, don’t ask for anything, just reach out with an email that shows your mutual respect and interest in what they do. It’s as simple as a “hey” to a cool person who’s doing cool things.
With some amazing industry events coming up in the near future such as Vancouver’s Crazy8s Gala and Women in Film Festival or the Canada Screen Awards in Toronto, there will be ample time to work on your in-person hobnobbing.
Know Your Audience
Stand out by doing your homework and actually getting to know some facts about the person you’re about to reach out to. We recommend going beyond the “surface level” facts that everybody already knows.
Is there someone you want to meet at an industry gathering? Ask a colleague or friend for an introduction and don’t forget to ask a few questions about them first.
Find A Mutual Connection
At parties you meet people you may know nothing about, so the task here is to talk to strangers! Take the time to introduce yourself and ask them about their interests. If you do know a little bit about them, find casual ways to drop that into the conversation.
Try not to rely on the old standards like what they do for a living, the weather, or politics. Think of fun subjects such as a great movie you just watched, or a play that you’re reading. You never know what common ground you may share.
What Can You Do For Them?
When meeting a new person, try thinking of what you can do for them. If you meet someone at a party, do your best so see what they’re up to and how you can help. We’re not suggesting you give up all your free time for every new acquaintance’s short film, but do a check-in to see if they need someone you might be able to acquaint them with. After all, networking is all about connecting.
Don’t only go after “big fish” or “big names” you see at parties. You never know who’s going to be the next Damien Chazelle or who’s an up-and-coming, hard-working agent. Be friendly and open within your interactions.
Also, work on remembering people’s names and pronouncing them correctly. It can be tough, but instead of apologizing in advance, try the rule of three and repeat, repeat, repeat until you get it right. Many amazing networkers swear by secretly taking notes on their phone at parties to help them remember, but try the old fashioned way: your memory.
Put Down Your Phone
Networking is about human connection. So pay attention, as if your life depended on it. Listening is key, not only in your auditions but also in your personal interactions. Ask insightful questions to get the other person thinking, and be sure to actually hear what they’re saying back. This is about building genuine relationships, not just a business card exchange.
Listen. Ask good questions. Repeat.
Why are you networking? Are you looking for advice? A new agent?
Look back at the goal setting blog we wrote and think of how networking can make those goals a reality. Who do you need to know to get to the next level in your career or in your craft? Maybe the next step is to meet a writing partner, or an acting coach, or a director, or a producer to help you make that short film a reality. Be sure to remember the advice from above, and stay present in the moment even while you’re thinking of the long-game.
Ultimately make the interaction less about getting somewhere and more about finding great conversation with smart people.
Don’t Expect Anything
When you’re always out to get something, you’re not truly communicating with people, you’re just running a long-term manipulation game.
Don’t keep score.
Make friends, not ‘contacts’. In other words, value quality over quantity. Form genuine friendships with the people you meet and have fun at the party! You’re rubbing elbows with best of them, so enjoy yourself.
Follow them on Twitter, check out their Instagram story, share a few ‘likes’ around. If you want to keep building the relationship and strongly believe the connection will be beneficial for both of you, then send a follow-up email.
The biggest thing we can tell you is that no one is perfect. Meeting new people can be a challenge but a great way to step out of your comfort zone. So, live and learn!
We’re rooting for you!