The business side of Show Business can be tough for writers, because I know many of you are introverts. But networking is a necessity if you want to have a successful career. And I hate the word networking. It reminds me of a sleazy guy in a bad suit talking at me non-stop and clearly hoping I’ll help him in some way. I prefer the word “connecting” because that’s what you’re ideally doing: making a genuine connection with the person you’re talking to.
So, how can you muster the energy and confidence to go out and connect like a pro? Here are a few of my favorite ways to get past your fears:
1. Fill your own cup up first.
If you know you have a cocktail mixer or a WGA event to go to in the evening, give yourself the best chance of success by resting and recharging beforeyou go to the event. Focus on the things that energize you, whether that’s meditation, watching your favorite show, or reading a book. Give yourself the best chance of a great first impression by taking care of yourself before you walk into the event. (At the risk of sounding like your Jewish mother, it doesn’t hurt to look your best… it helps with confidence.)
2. Have a wing woman or man.
If the thought of facing a networking – connecting– event alone is too daunting, ask an extroverted friend to join you and help. Make sure they know your goals before you go in, and ask them to help you start a conversation and stay engaged. This gives you the best of both worlds: connecting with someone new in the industry, hanging with your friend, and preserving your own energy. If you’re not careful, you might even enjoy it.
3. Practice your personal story.
Without fail, nearly every person you speak to at a networking (connecting!) event will ask you what you do, what you like to write, or where you’re from. Having a compelling 30-second or one-minute story already prepared and practiced (see my blog on creating a killer Personal Logline) can help you feel comfortable breaking the ice. Your personal anecdotes can also showcase that you’re an entertaining and succinct storyteller, so make sure you have it down before you step in the door.
4. Give yourself a modest goal.
Make a small goal to connect with two new people at any event. Once you do that, you can count yourself a success and leave, knowing you pushed past your comfort zone. But remember: the whole point is to follow through! If you do make a genuine connection, get their contact info and follow up. Grab coffee, drinks, or lunch and keep the relationship going. As you know, this business is built on relationships and now you have some tools to start developing new ones. Break a leg!
How do you get through networking events? Tell me @CaroleKirsch!