Who you know is everything. We’ve heard it a thousand times, what we don’t hear or really know about is just how to go about this task.
Creatives’ often find themselves in this tricky situation; we must be proactive, go out there and network, and all of a sudden we are overcome with a paralyzing feeling of dread and impending doom at the very thought of making a fool of ourselves in front of some industry big shot. It really does require a new way of thinking about the business and your approach to it, remember what you’re selling and never force sell. Here are some things I’ve learnt along the way.
Don’t Be Yourself…Be Your BEST self
Sure they will say to be yourself, you cant be anything else. But lets face it, during the day-to-day hustle and grind of life, one can get a little tainted and overcome with the drudgery of it all. Whenever we meet these individuals, call them up or email its very important that we present our best self, the energetic enterprising creative self, brimming with ideas, and talent.
It’s a Numbers Game
It takes time to build up a network…a lot of time. You need to be patient about it and keep trying out different methods; sure you can hangout at places where industry peeps frequent, but the old-fashioned email approach is also useful. If you email 30 people you might get 2 responses, ultimately you only need one yes and that’s your introduction, your entrance into a new network. That person may meet up with you and over time they introduce you to their network and so on. Keep at it, stay positive and slowly your network will grow. Methods that have worked for me include, email, and Social Media (Twitter, Facebook).
Business Cards Are A Must
Once you arrive at the stage where you’re actually meeting people in person, you really do need to have some business cards to hand. It often looks unprofessional if you don’t and I’ve fallen prey for that myself, reaching into your pocket for your iPhone and asking to add a new contact is not ideal! The good news is that there are loads of providers for these cards and they are relatively inexpensive for even the most frugal filmmaker.
Here are some of my own techniques, remember the goal is to establish that first meeting:
Read as many trade journals as you can.
– The Wrap
Use the Internet to find the companies/contact details you require, e.g. imdb, The Casting Directors Guild, mandy.com
Start a routine of emailing a set number of people each week. You need to be emailing at least 10-20 different contacts per week for any noticeable results.
Don’t bombard the same people. Give them some breathing space. If you’ve sent an initial email give them some time before you reach out to them again. The time will depend on the nature of your initial email.
Use social media to your advantage. Many industry people are on twitter now, follow them, see what they tweet, what interests them, who they follow etc.