Your network is everything! Being surrounded by an uplifting, motivating network of people who believe in you and support you is crucial to your success in the film industry.Here are seven tips for networking in the film industry.
1. Attend events that filmmakers, writers, and casting directors attend. Don’t get me wrong. I love actors. You should definitely fill your life with creative actor friends. However, often actors get so comfortable in their “actor” groups from class that they spend less time connecting with the people who are actually making casting decisions. Seek out events that you know directors, writers, producers, and casting directors will attend. Q&As are great. Screenings are also great. Charity events are also wonderful places to meet people! Be strategic. Do your research and expand your network to include a diverse range of players in the film industry.
2. Engage with industry professionals online. Social media is such an effective tool for connecting with industry peers. So many casting directors are on Twitter! Follow them, engage with them, and stay on the pulse of what’s happening around you. Many actors who have begun significant career relationships—and even directly booked work—through social media.
3. Make friends in non-industry settings. You never know who is doing a downward dog next to you in yoga class, or who is walking her dog next to yours in the park. Do you know what your three closest neighbors do for a living? Do you even know their names? In New York especially, it is almost better to meet film industry professionals in a relaxed, unstructured, non-industry setting. This feels more authentic and organic for all parties. So start getting genuinely interested in the world around you. Start making new friends!
4. Become genuinely interested in other people. Dale Carnegie published a book in 1936 called, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” which is one of the most successful self-help books of all time and has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. One of the central messages of the book: The best way to get people to like you is to become genuinely interested in other people.
Focus out! Ask people questions about themselves. Become genuinely curious about other people’s lives, interests, and passions. Make people feel special and appreciated by truly caring about who they are and what they love. Do this, and you’ll making new friends left and right! Also, read the book if you haven’t.
5. Add value to people’s lives. In the vein of focusing out, you always want look for ways to add value to people’s lives. Do you know of an actor that fits a role your casting director friend is looking for? Make an introduction. Is your agent looking for a new nanny for her daughter? Send out a blast on Facebook. Figure out creative ways to support people in your network. You will build a reputation as a stand out, reliable industry professional who makes things happen. Yay!
6. Follow up! Once you meet and connect with someone, be in touch regularly—and not just when you need something. Be on the pulse of industry publications, and know when people in your network have been promoted, have released a film, or have received any kind of award or accolade. Reach out to congratulate people on their wins! Schedule coffee meetings, hikes, movie screening dates, and karaoke nights out just for the sole purpose of connecting and getting to know people. You can even set up notifications on your calendar to remind you to reach out to certain individuals on a regular basis.
7. Be consistent. Again, following up just once is not enough. Stay in touch with your network. At the very, very least, you should be contacting everyone in your network at least once a year. But I say every four to six months. You can set yourself reminders on your Google calendar so that you are reaching out to people on a regular basis. Again, add value to other people’s lives. Reach out for the sake of saying hello and checking in! You can always have a photo or graphic attached to the footer of your email that markets any recent career wins. No need to announce them in every single networking email. Have a blast!
Have fun creating and expanding your network! Enjoy the process of meeting and getting to know new people. It truly does take a village to move someone up the ranks of this industry. Have fun building yours!
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