Moving Forward Through Networking

by Alicia Bernbaum on September 29, 2010

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Being new to the film and television industry, I’ve enjoyed networking with different people and learning about the industry from various sides. I wanted to support the people who were supporting artists like me and I have now been volunteering part-time with a local casting director since the beginning of July.  I’m not an industry expert, nor do I have all the right answers, but I am someone enthusiastic about film and TV just like you.

By knowing what you want, who you want to meet and introducing yourself when the chance arises, you can find amazing opportunities that can help you in your career. The following are three simple steps to help you begin networking.

Know what you need and do your research.

Actors spend hours researching for important roles, roles that are going to take them to the next level in their careers. As such, you should spend time to research the people who can help you get to the next level too. Depending on your goals, key people could be casting directors, producers, writers, agents, actors, designers or locations managers. Know the projects filming in town and find the appropriate crew list on the Directors Guild of Canada website. This way you know who to ask for when you phone. Keep in mind that certain people can’t be reached through the production office. Do your research, know what you want, and put yourself out there with a business mindset and you’ll be surprised who returns your calls.

Have the intent to give, not to get.

Have the intention to give something to the people you want to reach out to. Often, after earning their trust, you end up receiving a lot more than you expect. One of the most genuine things you can offer is your time. People really appreciate someone who is eager and is willing to do something that others might pass up without monetary compensation. This is a great way to display your genuine intentions. Offering a few hours of your time is easy to do and also allows you to get real experience in another aspect of the industry, like production, props or casting. It’s also not uncommon to end up meeting other key people, hear tips, and receive other golden opportunities that others would miss because they weren’t with you.

Don’t be afraid to ask.

There is no harm in politely approaching someone and asking about opportunities. It’s important to remain professional because you are there to help their business, not directly help yourself. It’s important to remain well spoken, and have a clear message in mind, just as an entrepreneur would when approaching a new client or partner. Questions about aspirations, previous work experience, availability and strengths have been known to pop up when talking to others about opportunities. It’s also important to approach people at the right time; remembering to contact them during regular business hours, on a work related phone line or email, or at an event where that person is not actively involved with their job. A few great networking places are local festivals, social clubs like Cold Reading Series or Celluloid Social Club, annual meetings, and through organizations like Women In Film and Television or Alliance for Arts.

Everyone in the industry has something to offer.

You can have great success meeting industry people by simply knowing what you want, having good intentions to help and being honest and well-spoken when asking about opportunities. Keep in mind that a lot of opportunities (paid or not paid) are through referrals.

[Image: Noah Sussman]

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