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.
9. Don’t hand a business card to everyone you meet.
You don’t want to come off like you’re selling yourself to everybody. Don’t be pushy or loud. Definitely have cool looking business cards with all your contact information on it.
If the conversation goes really well with a particular contact, and you’re both writers, or if you’re talking to an agent, director or producer, end the conversation with, “let’s stay in touch.” Give the other person your card. If he gives you his card, even better.
10. What if you’re talking to a celebrity or well-known producer?
If you’re talking to someone you’ve heard of, remember your preparation. Talk about their films (always being positive.) You might want to ask a question. Better yet, ask a specific question like, “I really liked that film, I was wondering how you were able to get close enough to film that rhino?”
Remember, no matter how new to this you are, you want to come off like an working professional: you want to give the impression “you’ve been writing freelance screenplays for a while.” Don’t ask them to take a “selfie” with you, or autograph a book.
Act like you’re used to seeing celebrities like them. Don’t come off like a tourist. You may have to practice this in front of a mirror before the event.
11. Don’t hand your script to anyone at the event.
Even if the person you’re talking to asks if they can read your screenplay, don’t give it to them at the event, even if you have a trunkload of scripts in your car. This sends a message that you’re desperate.
The best case scenario would be if you have an agent or manager, tell your contact you’ll call them in the morning and have your agent send over the script. If you don’t have representation, just get their business card and send it over in the morning, or email it.
12. Make sure you know how to follow up on the first meeting.
When you get home, write a few things on the back of the business cards you collected. Just some personal or business details or something interesting they said, to remember each person by.
If you didn’t get cards from some people, but got some valuable information from them, find a moment alone during the event an make a note on your phone. Then when you get home, you can type up a networking list, or add names to your phone contact list.
You might want to make a note to try to reach your new contacts by phone sometime in the next month. Not too soon. Or your next move may be an email to the person you met, saying how much you enjoyed meeting and getting to know them.
14. Setting up a meeting with your contact and keeping in touch.
If everything seems to be on track at this point, you may try suggesting a meeting for coffee or a drink. If they’re an agent or a producer, you might want to practice a twenty second pitch for two or three screenplay ideas you’ve come up with.
At coffee, if the opportunity presents itself, you could pitch a couple of ideas. If the reaction is good, you can go a bit further and offer to send an outline or a script.
Later, you might want to touch base with these people by sending an individual email every couple of months, or write a weekly or monthly blog about your current projects, and entertaining adventures in Hollywood, and keep your contacts on the e-mail list.
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.