When learning how to network, the first piece of advice I could give is a bit of an airy-fairy one, but it is honestly so true, it is to open up your soul, so those smiles and laughs come naturally….
“…we can’t forget the fun we’ve had
Laughing ’til our faces turn blue.
Talking about things only we find funny
People think we’re insane-If they only knew! ” – Rachel Ellis
I’m sure you’ve heard it all before…
“In this business, it’s all about building contacts.”
“Not what you know but who you know. “
“How full is your address book?”
“Do you know this guy, you don’t? Well, you gotta meet him, I’ll try and give ya an intro…”
It goes on and on, but this sort of advice isn’t exactly true – and it has bugger all to do with which school or ridiculous university society you were involved in.
How to network properly
One of the main issues when it comes to becoming a networking machine is that others know exactly what you are doing. Of course, many of us get to where we are going because we are given a hand somewhere along the line, but I feel strongly that if you network too much it can have as much of an adverse effect as not networking at all.
You could go to all the parties, all the press nights, all the openings, all the premiers – chat up all the wannabes in the BnB’s of Nice – and still find yourself not getting your scripts read, your pitches taken seriously, or, in many cases, just being flat ignored.
Why is this? It’s possibly because you were networking too hard.
In the world of sales and marketing, an industry of which I have vast experience, it was never about the bigger deals. Over a period of around five years, I had to build, not just an address book of contacts within the business, that’s easy to do, but I had to build a list of people I loved working with, and who loved working with me too. Yes, from time to time, I was referred to someone else which brought in a massive deal and sustained me for a few weeks, but after that, they were rarely repeated back to back. It was the clients that I enjoyed doing deals with who came back over and over. A constant relationship where both our companies were building a web of honest growth. We all grew together and not before long, my company and theirs were all large enough to employ more staff, buy more product and look forward to the future. It was through trust, clear boundaries and open deals that success came in the form of a solid and sustainable foundation.
Opportunity comes from building relationships. Professional friendships within any walks of life have their disadvantages sure, but providing that there are clear boundaries, the key to creating a solid contacts list is simple…
Success is something that is sustainable, look at the actors of the 80’s, Val Kimmer, Steve Guttenburg, bright lights for a few years, big players and then they just seemed to vanish once their appeal ran dry. Allegedly one or maybe both of these actors apparently became quite difficult to work with. After word got round to most of the producers and studios, all of this early success just seemed to fade away, and we haven’t really seen them since.
For me, it all sits around shared interests and passion. A list of 500 industry based producers is nowhere near as valuable as say a list of 25 industry based producers you have dinner with whenever they’re in town to talk about the latest films coming out of Korea…or whatever.
Of course, it can be tough to meet these sorts of people but that is mainly due to your inner intentions. I am solid of the belief that these people will be blocked to you, by the universe, by your subconscious at juxta-play with you, or by something simply out-there – all because you are doing it for your own selfish intentions.
I think that when we open ourselves up to allowing others in, we can then build decent creative relationships that stand the test of time.
“The first time I met him on ‘Scissorhands’, didn’t know the guy at all, but I could just tell. You don’t get that many times in your life where you just connect with somebody and it’s really simple. It’s just there. You can’t look to the future, what’s going to happen, but he had an artistic integrity…”
Tim Burton on meeting Johnny Depp.
It is reported that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp simply connected over a love of pop culture, old-time horror movies, resin grapes and poop jokes.
We, as artists, need to be looking for creative connections, not runs on the ladder. Opportunity is the reward of friendship, it always is, so my advice is to go to film festivals, openings, parties, premiers and the BnB’s just outside Cannes, with an intention to meet people who believe what you believe.
Creating connections with other people surrounding art, culture, passions and everything else, is what creates fantastic work. Be in it for the art and you will be rewarded!