A Guide to Networking Success and Relationship Building
8th December, 2023 by Melissa Nhau
In the fast-paced and competitive world of the Film and TV industry, where opportunities often arise through personal connections rather than traditional job boards (i.e. Indeed, Reed etc), networking becomes a crucial skill. Building a strong network is not only about what you know but, more importantly, who you know. As someone who is new to the industry, this process can be overwhelming, but fear not – we’ve crafted a survival guide to help you navigate the intricate world of networking and maintaining those vital contacts.
1. The Industry’s Unconventional Dynamics
Before delving deeper into the subject, recognising that the film and TV industry thrives on word of mouth rather than conventional job boards is the fundamental first step. Unlike many other fields, opportunities in this industry are predominantly shared within networks, making personal connections priceless. Embrace this reality, and let it shape your approach to networking.
2. Rethinking Traditional Networking
While traditional networking methods have their place, they might not be the most effective in the Film and TV industry. Instead of relying solely on industry events and mixers, explore alternative avenues such as online forums, social media groups, and even virtual reality spaces where industry professionals gather. Don’t limit yourself to the expected; seize opportunities in unexpected places. The truth is, no matter where we go, we are constantly engaged in networking. We aren’t confined to dedicated events; you might practice your skills by striking up conversations in everyday locations like coffee shops, parks, or public transport. You never know who you might encounter. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll feel more confident when attending formal events.
To ease your mind before networking events, it’s crucial to pre-plan. Take note of what you hope to achieve, the questions you want to ask – Make sure to ask any follow up questions to any answers that they might give to keep the conversation flowing. This planning is unique to you and should be tailored to the person you intend to speak with.
4. Positioning Yourself at Networking Events
Enhance your experience at networking events by strategically situating yourself for optimal results. For instance, position yourself near the bar where people tend to be more open and comfortable mingling. Additionally, being near the event host is advantageous, as they are likely surrounded by individuals in various positions. Make a memorable impression by approaching the host, expressing gratitude for the event, and follow up by asking about their experiences and potential connections. Avoid areas like right by the entrance, as guests might be too preoccupied analysing the event to engage fully. Also, try not to spend too much time with familiar faces; open yourself up to new people and spend a few minutes speaking to everyone. It’s essential not to categorise people based on their positions. Treat everyone equally because you never know who is connected to who.
5. Elevating Your Elevator Pitch
Craft an elevator pitch that extends beyond your professional background. Share your passion, unique experiences, and aspirations. Make yourself memorable by showcasing genuine enthusiasm for the industry. People remember stories and emotions far better than a list of qualifications. While having qualifications is beneficial, it’s your skills outside of academia that count the most!
6. Networking Events Reimagined
Instead of attending events solely to collect business cards, focus on building genuine connections. Attend with the mindset of contributing to the industry community. Share insights, pose thoughtful questions, and actively listen to others. Also, offer something of value. It’s easy to talk about qualifications, but it’s crucial to highlight why you would be an asset to the person you’re speaking with – what sets you apart from everyone else? Networking is a two-way street, and authenticity goes a long way.
7. The Art of Staying in Touch
After making initial connections, the challenge lies in staying on the radar without becoming a mere acquaintance. Rather than sending standard follow-up emails, get creative. Share relevant articles, industry updates, or personal achievements. Demonstrate that your connection is not just transactional but has the potential to be a meaningful relationship.
8. Embrace the Power of Social Media
Leverage the reach and accessibility of social media platforms to stay connected. Sometimes we put too much thought into keeping in touch, but sometimes it’s as simple is liking, commenting and sharing their content. Showcase your industry knowledge, achievements, and personality, making you a memorable figure in their online networks.
Thriving in the Film and TV industry’s networking landscape requires a combination of unconventional strategies and genuine connections. By embracing the unique nature of the industry, rethinking conventional networking methods, and staying creative in your approach, you’ll not only build a robust network but also stand out in a sea of industry professionals. Remember, your network is your net worth, and with the right survival guide, you’ll navigate the industry with confidence and success.
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