You check your schedule and suddenly dread sets in. You have a professional gathering or social mixer coming up -- one you know you should attend -- and yet, you’re already coming up with excuses. Besides, you know how it will go: some awkward conversation here, some failed attempts at meeting someone who can help you there... ending with you feeling like the entire event was a waste of time. It doesn’t have to be the tooth-pulling nightmare you envision... not if you remember to avoid these 3 common blunders:
1) Thinking of it as “networking"
When I think of the word networking I think of slick, aggressive people who are trying to get something from me. You don’t want to network, you want to “connect”. Connecting is a better word because it means you’re meeting new people and when there’s a real connection you create a mutually beneficial relationship. Being your authentic self at “networking” events – without worrying what you’re going to get out of it -- helps you make a genuine connection with other people.
2) Making the night all about you, you, you
The number one rule of successful connecting is seeing how you can help the other person. Takes the pressure off of each encounter. Aside from making you feel good about yourself, this gives you a reason to stay in contact and follow up with this person.
3) Not making eye contact/constantly scanning the room
I see this all the time. Two people introduce themselves to each other, and just as one speaks, the other immediately scans the room to see if there’s a “better” person to meet. Not only is this rude, but the person doing the scanning is losing out on an opportunity to make a lasting ally in this business. I’ve also seen the opposite, where one person stares a little too intently at the one doing the talking. Helpful hint: Avoid looking like a serial killer.
Director of WGA's Showrunner Training Program, creator & Director of the CBS Diversity Writers Mentoring Program, international speaker and a leading expert on entertainment career strategies, Carole Kirschner teaches creative professionals how to navigate the often mystifying landscape of show business. Her book, Hollywood Game Plan: How to Land a Job in Film, TV and Digital Entertainment is a primer on how to break in and move up in the entertainment industry. Through her popular workshops, Carole teaches writers, producers, directors and executives the real world strategies that will help them not just succeed, but thrive.