It probably sounds redundant to hear again and again that you should be networking. Let me define networking as building genuine relationships with people in your writing community. You can create networking opportunities if you know where to look.
Let’s say you know no one. Where are you supposed to find your people? Under a rock? Maybe. I haven’t looked there, but I’m open to the possibility of truly inspirational rock people.
Remember that there isn’t one way to make new connections. You have options. The thing is that you can’t be passive. Choose the way in which you want to get out into the social sphere. Here are some options:
Types of Networks Available to You:
- Industry organizations like Film Independent, JHRTS, Women in Film, etc… typically have annual fees and are somewhat exclusive. Your yearly payment goes towards the cost of throwing mixers, hosting events, bringing in guest speakers, and screening unreleased movies and TV shows. It’s incredibly worth it if you find the right fit. Some organizations require you to work in the entertainment industry or meet certain criteria to join, and others are more open.
- If you have a religious affiliation, use it. Religious groups have a built-in community of people. In Los Angeles, entertainment people are everywhere, so the odds of you making real connections with other entertainment professionals while at church or in a synagogue is high. If it’s something you’re already interested in, multitask. Apply this to any kind of gathering, like a softball league, kickball league, or beach volleyball event.
- Alumni Associations
- Check and see if your school has an alumni association in your current city. You don’t have to do anything extra to join since you already put in your time by going to that school.
- Meetup.com is a great resource in any city. When I moved to L.A., I joined a volunteer organization to meet people. It was easy and mostly harmless (there was an incident where I was chased by a bee while gleaning oranges with Food Forward, and I’ve almost gotten over it). Take a look at writing groups, filmmaking groups, workshops, and/or regular old non-industry hobby groups. All roads lead to Rome.
- Private Networking Groups
- Some popular websites, like The Anonymous Production Assistant, have Facebook groups. Occasionally there will be mixers, hikes, or something for you to join. It’s pretty awesome.
- If you’re an industry assistant, you’ll find out about private groups and tracking boards through other assistants. Most of the time you have to be introduced by someone already in the group.
- Ask someone to coffee or “drinks” as they say. One-on-one is a great opportunity to learn about someone’s experience in the industry, to gain great insight or advice, and to start what hopefully will be a long relationship.
- Creating Your Own Group
- Create a writing group and ask people to invite friends they trust.
- Create a goal group, a.k.a. a group of ambitious people like yourself. You don’t all have to be writers, but they should be people who understand what you are trying to do and are supportive.
Types of Ways to Utilize These Groups:
- Mix at mixers
- Attend speaker panels
- Go to private functions – holiday parties, luncheons, award ceremonies, etc…
- Join groups online – find collectives of people who share industry information, scripts, and news via email or a platform like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, etc… These groups are also a good place to ask questions when you get stuck.
- Go to an event and find people who you want to ask to one-on-one drinks.