Networking Tips for Newbies

 

By Day’s Lee - Writer and Montreal Film Group member

 

I have been networking for over a dozen years. I’m not a great schmoozer, but I’m a lot more comfortable walking into a room full of strangers and introducing myself now than I was at the beginning. I used to be afraid that if I spoke, people would think that I couldn’t write. (Logically, I don’t know how I made that connection. Fear is an amazing thing.)

 

For those who are new at networking, I would like to offer the following tips. If you’re a seasoned networker, skip this article and move on to the other great news the MFG has to offer.

 

  1. Wear a name tag. The MFG provides name tags when you pay at the door. Put it high on your right shoulder. Writing your profession below your name is an ice breaker. It allows someone like me to walk up to you and say, “Hi, I’m a writer too. What do you write?”
  2. Say hello. It’s easier to approach someone who is alone than a group of people who are already engaged in conversation. Remember, everyone who attends these events wants to talk to someone. Just walk up to the person and introduce yourself. You will almost never meet someone who will not return a friendly smile and a handshake.
  3. Make eye contact. Look around the room. You will see other people are also looking for a way to make contact. If you catch someone’s eye, smile, walk up to them and introduce yourself.
  4. Business cards. Be sure to bring them. The people you meet will want to know how to contact you, where to go see your latest show, project, book, etc.
    1. Printing your own cards is okay, but it’s better to get them done professionally. I printed my own cards for over a year and when I finally got them done professionally, a prospective client said, “Oh, you finally got rid of those cheap cards.” If you really want to create your own, use non-perforated cards. (Perforated cards scream “Amateur!”) Remember, your cards represent you when you can’t be there, and you always want to look your best.
    2. Don’t use words like “aspiring,” “hopeful,” or “wannabe” to describe yourself. Business cards have a long shelf life. I still have cards from writers I met at conferences years ago. When I look at the cards now, I know that person is a writer. Period. Be proud of yourself for studying and/or working towards your goal of being a writer, director, producer, etc. Besides, would you hire or recommend someone who printed “Aspiring Accountant” or “Wannabe Divorce Lawyer” on their cards?
  5. Keeping track. As soon as you get home, write down on the back of the card any information about this person, such as where you met, the date, or other information you gathered during your conversation. There’s nothing more agonizing than getting business cards from several producers only to forget which one asked to see your script.
  6. Staying in touch. If you think you made a good contact, you may want to send an e-mail, no longer than a paragraph, a day or two after the event to say you enjoyed meeting the person. If you promised to send some information, be sure to do it. Check your spelling and grammar before you send your e-mail.
  7. Enjoy yourself. Networking is all about making contacts for the present and the future, meeting like-minded people and learning more about your profession. If you meet one person you have something in common with, then you’ve done well, but count your lucky stars if you made a friend.

Reprinted by the Montreal Film Group with permission from Day’s Lee. ©2008 Day’s Lee

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