Networking Advice For Screenwriters

Advice we all need…because we’re writers, dammit, not salespeople, and yet sell we must. Ourselves, our work…but not, of course, our souls:

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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.

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 conversation.

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. You are NOT 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. How do you do that?   Most importantly, talk about them, not just about you.

Think about what can you offer the people you meet?  Maybe you have a screenwriting book or screenplay they’d like to borrow.  A great writing class or coach they could use. You could offer to read their scripts and offer feedback. Think about their side of the relationship.

Be entertaining, be cool, be funny, don’t self-promote too much.  Try not to be boring…..

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