Some people call it “becoming part of the creative community.” Others say, “it’s about making new friends.” Or, “Suck up, baby!” Whatever the code phrase, the meaning is the same: Making it in showbiz is all about networking – making these tips as important as any you’ll get about actual, you know, writing.
Or maybe even more important:
by David Silverman, MA, LMFT
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.