Thursday, July 17, 2008

Networking in La

I've been here for about a month, and I can tell you without a doubt, the most important thing to do in this town to get ahead is to network. Unlike towns like DC, NYC, Chicago, or others, you're credentials only go so far.

Every networking event I go to I meet brand new writers who are trying to break in, college seniors, and produced writers. I've never been to an event in DC that had that range of people. And, it's because the produced writers know that today's bus boys may be tomorrow's studio execs.

Yes, Yes, for the large majority of people in La they either are lacking talent, drive, gumption, or some combination of the three. However, in every rough there is a diamond, and one of those development interns/assistants/busboys is a great writer - about industry events.

-Make at least 3-4 contacts at each event. Yes, it may be tempting to sit down, but remember EVERYONE there wants to network. So get in the game.

-After the event, follow-up with an e-mail stating who you are, give a nice anecdote about what you spoke about, and offer to help them with any projects. Don't just say it though, mean it. These are your colleagues, and potential futures employers.

-Don't fret if you don't get a response from people, they heard you. Just go to the next event, and make new contacts. You will eventually run in the same circles and meet again.

Networking Tips:

-Personally, I don't like crowds so networking is hard for me, so a good tip for you is to take breaks from the action if you are like me. People will come up to you, mill around and start communicating with you.

-Don't eat up someone's time. Remember, everyone is there to network and a large room is not conducive to having a deep, meaningful conversation.

-Make sure you ask about them. Don't talk about yourself the whole time. In fact, always begin with talking about them. When they ask, volunteer information. However, this is about you making contacts, not pitching your latest ideas.

-Don't ask people to help you. It's about developing a mutually beneficial relationship. Over time, when there is a trust built and the potential to get projects as well as a friendship. People don't want to put themselves on the line vouching for someone they hardly know. Begging is in bad taste.

-Don't be all over the place when discussing yourself. You want to be "the guy/girl that..." to leave an impression not "the guy/girl who does this/that/the other" noone remembers that person. They remember the person producing the horror script, or writing the TV pilot.

Eventually, with enough contacts, grit, moxy, and talent, you will break through, just be ready for it when it happens.

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