The film business is a people business. It’s not what you know, it’s whom. Our contacts help get us work, find us collaborators and mentors. You can try out new ideas on your contacts and get their gut reactions literally in seconds. All this adds tremendous value to your professional life. How does this happen? Through networking.
I bet you are cringing at the very thought of film networking. Having to go up to a complete stranger and start a conversation is about the most intimidating thought. It’s even worse in today’s social media age when much networking has moved away from pubs and coffee shops into the online space like LinkedIn and Facebook. Networking in the online and offline space has become an import skill for anyone wanting to push their careers ahead. Offline networking, the face-to-face experience, just can’t be replicated online.
There is no better place for actors, screenwriters, directors and filmmakers to network than at the Raindance Film Festival. Here are my three top icebreakers designed to get you out of the corner and away from your wall-flower complex. You might also want to make sure you avoid these networking faux-pas. Keep these handy networking tips in mind, head down to the Raindance Film Festival and get networking.
1. “Hi. You’re from [XYZ company] How’d you end up there?”
This is a sure-fire way to get something going. Firstly, the person you ask this question of will have answered it many times before and won’t feel as if you are trying to catch them off guard. And the second advantage of this question is that you get to practice an essential networking skill: the fine art of listening.
You know what it’s like. You are telling a person a story and they are nodding in appreciation. Maybe now and again they interject with a “Really?” or a “No way!” Doesn’t it feel good? It’s because they are offering you their full and undivided attention. This is what makes a good listener.
Come to Raindance and practice the fine art of listening. Learn to drown out all other distractions when others are talking to you. You will hear fascinating story after story from filmmakers and audience who have travelled to Raindance from the five continents.
2. “Hi. I’ve just heard that [cut and paste relevant industry news story here]. Have you heard about that one?
Have you got a favorite blog or website that you return to day after day? Maybe it’s the Raindance website, or gointostory.com or phillipbloom.net. Why do you keep coming back to those sites day after day? It’s because they provide you with valuable information. I call that value.
If you want people to remember you, you have to mimic the bloggers and provide value to the people you meet on the networking trail. Get known as the person with the fresh news stories, or the expert on a particular subject. It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to become an expert either. Do a few google searches before you head out and earmark a couple of stories and away you go down the expert trail.
3. “Hi. I’d like your opinion on my latest project. Have you got two minutes?
Whenever I get asked this question I am actually surprised that anyone would value my opinion and I feel appreciated and respected. Obviously, I will spend some time considering their project and offer some free advice. Chances are I will remember this and when our paths cross again I will ask them for an update and offer additional advice if needed.
Take advantage of the successful people around you and get their energy and thoughts focused on your projects.