If I had to pinpoint what my catchphrase is this time in my career, it would probably be along the lines of “let’s get drinks!” I’ve been enjoying meeting new people at various companies around Hollywood, and it’s been the highlight of my time working at an agency — and I didn’t always see it as such.
I used to see networking as something superficial, vapid: the art of small talk at a mixer, the ability to be the center of attention or to wax poetic about your accomplishments. However, the reality of getting drinks and attending mixers can be a lot different if you approach it with the right perspective.
The real way to network authentically is to see it as a study of people. I’ve met some people with incredible stories on networking drinks, and it’s a great way as a writer to get more inspiration for characters and also to learn about the kinds of people who are in this industry.
Here are some tips for networking authentically:
- Keep a grid of who you met, where you met them, where they work, and their contact info. That way, you can keep in touch and foster real connections instead of one-offs that are just people you’ve met once and then just ask for favors.
- Don’t double book. I hate double-booking both in practice and philosophy. Sure, double-booking means you always have drinks to go to, but I also think that rescheduling constantly on people is a bad look. Double-booking and constant flakiness and rescheduling is something about this industry I find unpalatable and is something I would change if I could.
- Plan your drinks schedule accordingly. I try and only get drinks Tuesday-Thursday. Mondays are for workouts and recovering from the beginning of the week, and Fridays are for plans with friends outside of the industry.
- Approach drinks with curiosity. Don’t think about what people can do for you: instead, approach drinks as an opportunity to learn more about other companies, jobs, and — most importantly — to connect with other people facing the same struggles you are. I find it fascinating to see what lead people to want to work in film and television, especially if they’ve had other careers.
- Always follow-up and thank them for getting drinks the day after you meet. We’re incredibly busy people, but remember it’s important to thank people for spending the time (and money!) to meet up with you for a drink.
If you can, try and introduce them to someone else you know that could be helpful to them — networking is also about paying it forward and helping others when you can. This is an industry built on favors, and we’re at our best when we’re trying to help others.