It came to my attention the past few months that something that was not taught early on in my training was networking. How does one begin? How is it done? And how do you teach it? The following are from my experiences and are only my opinions. You may take it or leave it. Are we not supposed to talk about it? If not, sorry but I am:
My top 5 tips
1. Be real: we all know that there is (like it or not) a bit of smoozing in our business, it’s just a fact. You meet people, try and gain a common point of interest, keep connected, maybe you get a job as a result later down the road. But don’t close yourself off to making it more than about a job. Sometimes isn’t it just nice to make a new friend or acquaintance? I love meeting new artists. So maybe next time to help take off the pressure (if your awkward or shy like I tend to be believe it or not) picture it just another friend in the biz, another artist like you to discuss life with. I promise it helps, it makes it less painful and guess what, even enjoyable. I have met so many wonderful friends just by putting myself out there.
2. Don’t be a know it all or self-involved: no one likes that person who does nothing but promote him/her self and forgets that they are not alone in the conversation. Its good to promote yourself but its also good to stay humble and down to earth. Also don’t forget an important rule- if someone asks what you do/ how you are/ your current project, answer them, but don’t forget to ask back (obviously have an interest but be genuine and be engaged in the other persons convo)
3. Name-dropping: there is a time and a place. Every other sentence should not involve your friend “insert name drop” expand on a topic and keep it flowing…have something more to say then compliments, and you don’t always have to agree on a topic, I love a person with a strong knowledge on a topic or a passionate stance whether or not it agrees with my own…
4. There’s a time and a place: do you have a card? Do you have a website? These are good things to have specially if you are going to be in bigger settings. But remember don’t just give these things out like after dinner mints. Work it into a conversation; give it after a meeting as a way of contact (if the person seemed interested in keeping in touch of course). Don’t give it out if it doesn’t feel right; believe me you’ll start to know. And the person doesn’t always need to be in your field, don’t exclude other fields its called networking who knows who your dog walker/dentist/dry cleaner knows?
5. Plan your escape: no one likes someone who lingers. This is the hardest I think. It’s always awkward when the conversation is over yet you hover like a lost puppy. Have a way of departure so that you can leave a conversation gracefully (if this a time to give your card as a way to keep in touch?) find a purpose believable to leave (drink refill, do you see another friend, another engagement to attend) excuse yourself politely and don’t forget to thank the person or group for their time. I always find it nice when a person is genuine about enjoying the company and chat.
In a nutshell it may be hard at first (or you may be one of the blessed few that is just really good at it) but the more you do it, the less painful it becomes. So put yourself out there and it will feel like childsplay.