“Networking” can be a dirty word.
We’ve all come across a Career Networker at a social gathering, giving your business card a cursory once-over while trying to make eye contact with the CEO of Independent Talent over your shoulder, and scuttling away as soon as somebody more important walks past.
When done well, however, networking is a fantastic way to meet people, make new friends, and share mutually beneficial career opportunities.
Networking isn’t just about finding people who can be useful to you, and discarding those who aren’t. Networking should be about connecting with like-minded people who share your goals and ambitions. You should aim for the relationship to be mutually beneficial: the more you try and help your connections, the more they’ll try and help you.
We’re all aware of the saying “It isn’t what you know, but who you know”. The performing arts is a meritocracy in the sense that talent (or lack of talent) is difficult to hide, so good writers, good performers and good dancers do generally rise to the top – but it certainly won’t hurt to have a few influential email addresses in your contacts book.
What’s the best way to do it?
Spotted the CEO of a global TV production company? Take a deep breath, introduce yourself, but don’t overstay your welcome. Also – and perhaps more importantly – take a moment to notice the person is standing next to them.
Their assistant or a junior colleague may well be less in demand, have more time to talk to you, and might just remember you in a way that a senior executive perhaps won’t.
Don’t forget your business cards!
A quick Google search will bring up all sorts of affordable options, and most have templates you can use to make yours look as professional as possible.
Steer away from anything too overcomplicated and colourful: a simple version with your name, job title and contact details should do the trick.
It’s also worth looking to meet people online. The performing arts are a collaborative world: there are plenty of Facebook groups for actors, dancers, production crew, and so on, while sites ours Media Volt as we have a huge communities of creatives looking for like-minded people to share their career ups and downs with.