If you haven’t read part 1 in this series of film networking articles, you can do so here. In this article, we will carry on the discussion about what I‘ve seen happen and also have done a lot myself when attending a film networking event. (Note: I am not talking about elevator pitches here. That’s a completely different beast which deserves its own separate post in the future).
What I will repeat here though is that networking is vital for an establishing filmmaker to connect with people in the real world. It gives them a chance to showcase themselves and their talent, whilst also improving their interpersonal skills. Being just a creative type is no longer enough! You are connected virtually to everyone and everyone is connected to you. So, mastering the human element is a vital skill set for every filmmaker – it’s also crucial when dealing with your collaborators, fans and cast & crew on set!
1. Be genuine: Show genuine curiosity when networking with someone interesting to you. Don’t just motor mouth boring standard questions – be inquisitive, be attentive and be genuinely open. Think what you can offer them of value first, and then figure out how useful they will be to you.
2.Do prior research: Before attending a film networking event, why don’t you research the attendees if you have their names in hand? Google them and also use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to know more about them. You could actually go even one step further and connect with them online before the event, so there is familiarity when you meet them in person. Only target those people who you genuinely want to meet. Don’t waste your time or anyone else’s.
3.Quality not quantity: This brings me to a problem I have seen many filmmakers do. They play the networking lottery. Of course networking is a bit of a numbers game, but that shouldn’t be your aim. To get the maximum quantity in the shortest possible time is not going to work! If you do this, it will be very hard for you to make genuine connections that will benefit both parties. Target a few and work on it.
4.Body Language: When networking in person, you need to exude appeal and appear confident. Pay a great deal of attention to your body language, voice tonality and general vibe. Straighten your posture and smile. Don’t ever give off a desperate or needy vibe. Stay calm and collected and people will naturally be drawn to you.
5.Attire: While formal wear is not necessary, you shouldn’t be looking scruffy either. Appearance does matter – wear colours that look the best on you as this all adds to how you come across when you work the room.
6.Speak confidently: Don’t’ speak fast or too slow. Neither should you speak too quietly nor should you be too loud. Your voice should sound authoritative while being friendly. Everybody likes to work with a filmmaker who has leadership qualities, but who is also considerate. If you have trouble with speaking properly to strangers, try Toastmasters. It’s a very good place to practice and improve on your speaking skills.
7.Never judge: When you have made the effort to go over and speak to someone who you thought was interesting, but they turned out otherwise – don’t fret immediately. Don’t be quick to judge them. Show some patience and give them a little benefit of the doubt. You never know who they know that could be of benefit to you! However, if you are sure they won’t be a good person for you to know, then don’t hang around either. Make a graceful and quick exit and move onto the next interesting person in the room.
If you follow these tips plus those in part 1, you’re already in the top 10% of filmmakers who make networking work for them. As with anything, knowledge isn’t everything. Practice constantly and you will master film networking and become a great connector.