Six Things You Need to Know About Networking – Right Now!
Networking can be scary, or it can simply be challenging – it’s up to you. The fact is that the majority of jobs today are found by making the right contacts, especially in the entertainment business. There are times when you might crash and burn in learning this talent, but the payoffs when they come are definitely worth it.
Below are a few tips for networking that I’ve found successful:
When targeting the entertainment industry, make a list of how you are going to meet people – for online, LinkedIn.com is one of the best places. Join groups (interest groups, alumni groups... JHRTS and HRTS are great places to start) and participate in the conversations there. Post an interesting bit of information about your industry every day. Establish new connections by writing a specific little note, not just “I want to link in with you” but more like “I used to work at Disney and I noticed that you are working on a new project there, etc.” Make sure that you have a professional photo, as profiles with photos are looked at much more. Twitter is important too, as almost 50% of recruiting is now done on Twitter – follow potential contacts/recruiters and engage in conversations.
Write It Down
Have plenty of business cards when you meet people. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who don’t carry cards or ran out of them, so give a potential new contact one of your cards to write down an email address and phone # on the back of the card after chatting a little. Write down where you met them, the date, what they said, what you talked about, and file it away (I learned this from a top networker in the UK who moved in high circles of politicians and celebrities). Follow up within 2 or 3 days at the most.
Follow It Up
When you follow up with someone on the phone, read up about that person beforehand and what they do to ask interesting questions – perhaps about an article they may have written or about a seminar they may have appeared at. Ask if the person will meet with you for 15 minutes at a later date. Keep a list of your contacts and call every 2 months or so to reconnect. Take notes on what they said – say, if they enjoy talking about current events or they are into hi-tech. Also ask if there’s anything you can do for your contact (this will probably shock them!).
Being a Friend
Before meeting someone in person, do more research about their company. Talk about a subject that they might be interested in, but let them lead the conversation also. Don’t think of it as a job interview, more like you are sincerely interested in that person and just want to learn more about what they do. Give them your business card. Write a thank-you note, as that will stand out more than an email (but write an email too, because mail can get lost). In a recent survey, it was found that the brain retains more information with a tangible subject (like a thank-you note) rather than electronic information.
Where Do I Go?
Apart from the great great events by JHRTS and HRTS, you can look on Eventbrite.com for other business networking events. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has networking events, also Women in Film and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (they have great films where you can network after). You might take classes (UCLA extension classes are good) and go to local “watering holes” (either restaurants near a studio or places that industry people go to).
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Study everything you can about your part of the industry and beyond – it’s good to know a little about a lot of things. Read articles on LinkedIn, the trades, study social media, see TED Talks and webinars. You never know when something might come up which would impress (or even help) the person you’re networking with. I attended Digital Hollywood and after listening to one filmmaker speak, was able to help them in regards to a bit of historic information about a film they were soon releasing. I also looked up a contact for them to talk to about the info. Maybe nothing will come of it, but hey, it’s just nice, right?
Above all, try to be in the mindset that you would like to help someone else in return and stay positive. Think of networking as a card game - sooner or later you’ll get a good hand. Then you just have to know how to play it.