Networking for People who Hate Networking

April 28, 2016

So you're trying to break into the film industry. So you hate networking. So you hate wandering through parties and conferences and such, engaging in meaningless chitchat with some poor so-and-so who happened to cross your path and then thrusting your business card willy nilly on him or her. So you think that talent alone, a barrelful of which you are carrying around with you, will lead you to the success and fame you so richly deserve.

 

Good luck in your career, my friend. You'll need it far more than most people, particularly in film.

 

Of course, you can go modern: set up a web page, a podcast, a blog. Then just sit back and wait patiently for the number of click-throughs to go up.

 

Tip: Make sure you have a cushion. Oh, and maybe a magazine. And don't forget food, maybe a blanket ... 

 

Or you can go out and do your self-promotion the old-fashioned way: you can engage in the meaningless chitchat and thrust the business card on whomever you're talking to. Chances are they have a business card they'd be willing to swap with you. You follow up with them; they follow up with you; you've got one more person in the world who knows who you are and who might be willing to help you along in your career.

 

A professional reputation is important in any industry, but especially in film and the media. The film industry is not a large one, so it's likely that a given person in the industry either knows another given person in the industry or knows someone who knows that other person. Along with that knowledge may come a recommendation. Alice, who is just getting into the industry, passes her business card to Bob, who is a veteran of that industry. Charlie, Bob's friend and fellow employee, mentions that he needs someone with a specific skill set; Bob recalls that Alice told him she has those same skills. Bob passes Alice's contact information to Charlie (and also to Dawn, Eddie, Frances and George) and Alice's career starts to get off the ground. Seeing the benefits she is reaping, Alice keeps meeting other people like Bob and passing her card around, always making sure to follow up.

 

(Of course, she does this along with maintaining the web site, the podcast and the blog. After all, networking is only one way of promoting yourself.)

 

The trick of networking is not to think of it as work (even though it is, in a way). You're socializing. You're at an industry party or you're inviting a prospective employer to a baseball game since you know you're both baseball nuts. (If this person is going to be your boss, it's probably best not to get too chummy.)

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