If you are anything like me the the idea of going to events for the purpose of talking to strangers can be daunting. The only way to get over this is to do it and to do it often. In these situations I have found that it is better to be shy than arrogant and there are so many amazing people in this industry that you will hardly ever be left alone for long.
In this industry we all tend to work in small groups or alone for a lot of the time, but meeting new people is crucial both in terms of finding crew as well as finding people to help make your projects happen.
If you have a friend to go with who is there for similar reasons it makes things much easier, but even if you don’t these are some of the things I have discovered that have helped me get through the awkwardness over the years.
Reconnect with the people you know
Starting out by talking to people you know can make things much easier. It is also important to find out what the people you know are up to. They also might be talking to new people that you can be introduced to, but even if they don’t it’s a good way to ease yourself into conversation mode.
Making one connection makes the evening worthwhile
Networking is not about collecting business cards. It certainly doesn’t hurt but making one solid connection in an evening has certainly been far more helpful to me over the years than just collecting contact details for people who have no reason to remember me. The conversation does not have to be all about work and it certainly isn’t a problem if you spend the bulk of your evening talking to only one person. Doing this means that you create a much more solid connection with someone who will be far more engaged when you go to contact them the next day.
No one is unimportant, so make sure you listen
When considering the idea of making one connection a night it is also important to remember that no one is unimportant. Even if you don’t necessarily see value from talking to someone right away you have no idea what the future holds and making more friends in the industry is always valuable. Unless you have already made it and have a super solid career with consistent financing there is not anyone smaller than you or that you can’t learn something from. We are all guilty of sometimes thinking that someone doesn’t know as much as us, particularly when you first start climbing the ladder, but limiting this as much as possible is far more helpful for everyone.
Never look around for someone else to talk to
Following on from the previous point the biggest crime at a networking event is continuously looking around the room for someone better to talk to when you are talking to someone. If you are looking for someone that is fine, say so, but don’t disrespect the person you are talking to no matter who they are by acting like they are unimportant.
Make going to events a habit
Lastly the only way to get better is to go. It also helps as you are growing your place in the industry to be seen consistently at events. As you make more friends you also learn to enjoy it a lot more. Going to events with the sole purpose of having a good time and not meeting people is also okay too. Everyone is busy, we are all trying to fit everything into a very busy schedule that ideally also includes some form of social life but making the time to be an active part of the industry, particularly at the events where you can learn new things is also a critical part of development. At least that is what I have found. Some times it is just great to be in a room full of people who understand your both the pain and the joy of trying to make your passion come to life. It is an amazing industry, and the more you are a part of that the more you see that.
If you have any other tips on Networking leave them in the comments section below…