Networking is an anxiety-provoking, but necessary activity for anyone aspiring to Hollywood jobs (or any job). It’s especially difficult for writers, who aren’t known for being outgoing and comfortable around large groups.
Knowing what to expect from the experience will, in itself, reduce the stress involved. As stressful as making new friends in large gatherings (in a not-so-friendly town) can be, I hope considering the following advice will help reduce your anxiety.
1. Know where to go to network with other film people.
Where do you go to find like-minded people, or working writers, agents and producers? Here are a list of potential networking sites;
Promotional film screenings, film screening with Q & A with cast, or writers, and producers, film-related seminars, speaking engagements featuring TV or film writers, writing classes, wrap parties, parties at the American Film Institute, International Screenwriter’s Association, or other on-line networking groups, film-oriented Meet-Up events, Guild functions, award shows, comedy clubs, plays, or even a Starbucks near a studio.
2. You’ve got to be well-informed about movies and TV.
Depending on the kind of networking event you’re going to, you need preparation. If you know who might be there, then check their IMDB pages or Google their names. If you can, watch a film or tv show they’ve written or produced.
Watch current films and TV shows. You’ve got to know your market. You’ll need a general working knowledge of who does what in Hollywood. Make it your business to learn about current actors, directors, writers, agents and producers.
You can get some of this information from reading the Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety and the Calendar section of the LA Times. You can also watch TV shows like Extra, Entertainment Tonight or even TMZ.
Being well-informed will give you confidence and reduce stress because you’ll have some go-to subjects for smalltalk.
3. Focus on the mindset of “trying to create new relationships.”
At the event, don’t spend the whole time with people you already know. Meet some new people, and focus your attention on them.
Remember why you’re attending this event. The idea here is, you aren’t going to this event to sell your script. That isn’t going to happen.
Rather, you’re going to this event to begin and nurture relationships with other writers and with other industry professionals who will be helpful and even necessary in your upcoming career.
4. Set a modest networking goal for the event.
Nothing too extreme. Something like, “exchange three business cards with people.” Or introduce yourself to six people, and find out what they do in the film business.
You might go to a meeting of micro-budget filmmakers with the goal of offering to help on set, or as a production assistant.
Don’t worry if you’ve only accomplished modest goals. You’ll find it gets easier the more you do it.
You’ll have opportunities to strengthen your relationships the more you see some of the same people, and they may be able to introduce you to their friends in the business.
5. Try not to get hammered at the event.
You want to have a drink in your hand (even if it’s non-alcoholic), so you look like you’re casually enjoying the event. A couple of drinks may even help you to open up and help enable you to make smalltalk.
However, you don’t want to be slurring your words, stumbling around drunk, shouting or breaking the furniture. You need to keep your wits about you. One reason in particular, is that you will have to try and move the conversation in the right direction.
No matter who you’re talking to, don’t be negative or controversial. You don’t know where the person you’re talking to stands on any subject. Don’t assume. The person you’re talking to may just be a personal assistant now, but they may be able to help you down the line.
6. Dress appropriately for the event you’re attending.
If its an awards ceremony, you may need a tuxedo. If it’s a screening or networking event, dress casually, but not too casually. And whatever you do, don’t dress like you’re going to the beach or to a rave.
7. Remember to talk with the guests.
When you talk to other guests, you can talk about what’s happening at the event. For example, how great the food is, or how great the ice sculpture looks. Don’t be negative in case the person you’re talking to happens to be the caterer or a close friend of the host.
Feel free to discuss current hit movies or tv shows, or writers you admire. Don’t interview the person, just make casual small talk. See how it goes, and if they start talking more, you can procede to more personal topics.
Whatever you do, don’t spend the whole conversation talking about yourself. Ask questions about the people you talk with. Let them talk about themselves while you remain interested. Stay positive
8. You need to know when to move on.
However, if the person you’re talking with seems bored, checks his watch, or his or her body language shows they want to leave, just move on.
For more information about networking, or about anything else to get your Hollywood career on track; for one-on-one coaching on your writing your script or about how to get the job, call 850-4707 for a fee phone consult or CLICK HERE.
Next week Tips 9-14 on networking in Hollywood.