A while back, I was at a party. I didn’t know many people, but this was nothing new. Learning how to network in Hollywood (or anywhere) 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 precisely what happened when I entered a conversation where this guy bragged about his shoes. Something about Italian leather or some crap. 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 looked down at my shoes. He noticed my low-top Converse and cut me off mid-sentence. And I was like, WTF? And here’s the fun part. Later in the evening, somebody tells this guy I’m connected… That I know people. Maybe I can introduce him to people who could help him in his career.
So this filmmaker approaches me and starts talking about a movie idea. Pretty silly. No thanks. I don’t think he and I will ever do business together. This is because I don’t like him. He made a poor judgment on how to treat me. This is 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 excellent networking tips. You don’t have to be in Hollywood to make movies! But if you want to make movies, you will need a way to raise money. Unless you have a rich uncle or an awesome hookup, you must do what most unknown filmmakers do… They get out there, and they hustle!
How Do Filmmakers Meet Powerful People?
Good question. You will meet influential people through your ever-expanding network of awesomeness. In other words, you’ll make many cold calls, take lots of lunches, and network! The following principles 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 must 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 mainly see it at film festivals. Somebody approaches you and immediately asks what you are doing. 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, the other person will feign 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 Agenda
Everybody you meet has their agenda and could care less about you… Unless they could potentially USE you. While many up-and-coming filmmakers may use this strategy, it won’t be your strategy. You must do everything possible to avoid becoming “a walking business card dispensary.”
To avoid becoming a walking business card dispensary, I want you to focus on the other person whenever you think about networking! If you like the other person and think they are friendly, I want you to always focus on finding ways to help. By helping other people reach their goals, all the lessons we discussed (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 others as much as possible (without allowing others to take advantage of you), you’ll be in perfect shape when it comes time to create your projects.
Suppose you’re still trying to find out how to network in Hollywood or looking for strategies to meet and mingle with prospective investors or Hollywood Heavyweights. In that case, I recommend you check out this video training focused on: How To Find Prospective Film Investors.