The other night, I was at some party. I didn’t know a lot of people, but this is nothing new. Learning how to network in Hollywood, (or anywhere really) is one of the most important skills you can refine. Besides, meeting new people is fun. It leads to new ideas and new opportunities.
But every so often, you will meet a jerk or two. That is exactly what happened when I walked into a conversation where this guy was bragging about his shoes. Something about Italian leather or some crap. Anyway, as the conversation shifted from shoes to the movie industry, I started to chime in about video on demand distribution.
How To Network In Hollywood (Or anywhere, really)
And do you know what? This guy totally looked down at my shoes. He noticed my low top Converse and literally cut me off mid-sentence. And I was like WTF? And here’s the fun part. Later in the evening, I guess somebody tells this guy that I’m connected… That I know people. That maybe I can introduce him to people who could help him in his career.
So this filmmaker comes up to me and actually starts talking about a movie idea. Pretty silly. No thanks. I don’t think him and I will ever do business together. This is because I don’t like him. He made a poor judgement on how to treat me. This is obviously an example of BAD NETWORKING.
But that guy is not alone. A lot of filmmakers visit California, wondering how to network in Hollywood. Before I get too far into some awesome networking tips, let me clarify something. You don’t have to be in Hollywood to make movies! But if your goal is to make movies, you are going to need a way to raise money. Unless you have a rich uncle or an awesome hookup, you’re going to have to do what most unknown filmmakers do… They get out there and they hustle!
How Do Filmmakers Meet Powerful People?
Good question. You will meet powerful people through your ever expanding network of awesomeness. In other words, you’re going to make lots of cold calls, take lots of lunches and network! The following principals will reveal how to network in everyday life. But importantly, they will show you how to network in Hollywood.
As you can probably guess, the guy in our previous example needs to learn how to network in Hollywood. (Or anywhere, for that matter.) And maybe you’ve experienced this type of crap too. It happens all the time. I mostly see it at film festivals. Somebody approaches you and immediately asks what you do. As soon as you tell the other person, there is a beat…
A moment or two when the person decides if you are worth his time. If not, then the other person will feign a polite interest in you, look over your shoulder for someone more important to talk to and leave the scene, tossing you a business card on his way out. Whenever someone mentions the word “networking” the mental picture that comes into focus, often involves an overly energetic schmoozer who hands out business cards like candy.
Everyone Has Their Own Agenda
Everybody you meet with have their own agenda in mind and could care less about you… Unless they could potentially USE you. While this strategy may be used by many up-and-coming filmmakers, it won’t be your strategy. In fact, you need to do everything you can to avoid becoming “a walking business card dispensary”
In order to avoid becoming a walking business card dispensary, every time you think about networking, I want you to focus on the other person! If you like the other person and think they are a nice human being, I want you to always focus on finding ways to help. By helping other people reach their goals, all the lessons we spoke about (rapport, reputation and building relationships) will work in your favor.
Here is what I learned. Help enough people, and enough people will help you:
- Build a network of like minded individuals.
- If you live in a small town like I did, try to find a local art scene and other local filmmakers. If your area is limited, then contact people through social networking websites.
- Consider taking weekend trips to film festivals and screenings within your proximity. Strike up conversations.
- Consider helping as PA for movies in your area.
- Once you make friends. Go to their screenings. Get business cards. Follow up. Always ask yourself: “What can I do to help this person succeed?”
One of the best parts about working in the movie industry is meeting other like-minded, creative people. If you go out of your way to help other people as much as you can (without allowing other people to take advantage of you), then you’ll be in very good shape when it comes time to create your own projects.
If you’re still trying to find out how to network in Hollywood, or if you are looking for strategies on how to meet and mingle with prospective investors or Hollywood Heavyweights – I recommend you check out this video training focused on: How To Find Prospective Film Investors.