Networking with other filmmakers is a great way to learn new things, make great connections and overall just be inspired to keep on keeping on. With the Christian Worldview Film Festival right around the corner, I thought I’d write up some tips on how to make the most of any networking opportunity you may find yourself in:
Before The Event
- Clear Your Desk – It’s important to make sure get any big tasks or important communication completed before you leave, so you don’t have stacks of work that should be finished sitting there waiting for you. It just makes it hard to be able to focus and enjoy the event!
- Make a Business Card/Demo Reel – Having a business card to give out is a great way to be able to stay connected with others even after the event itself is over. Also, having a website/demo reel is great, especially if you are looking to find work. One thing to note – your business card is your first impression, so make sure it’s good. If it’s just a cheap paper slip, it’s probably going to get lost or thrown out. Try to create something that will be memorable – something that you wouldn’t want to throw away!
- Write Down Questions – If you’re like me, it’s hard to come up with great questions on the fly. I may have had lots of them the day before as I was working on something, but by the time I’m at the event, I can’t for the life of me think of what they were. Writing them down means you’ll be able to remember them and get them answered. As a quick tip, I love Google Keep for keeping track of everything!
- Have a Game Plan For What You Want to Accomplish – Having somewhat of an agenda going into the event will help you not just go aimlessly from thing to thing. For example, if your goal is to get more work as a visual effects artist, planning to meet and talk to directors and other post-production people should be at the top of your list.
- Be Intentional About Meeting New People – If you always only hang out with the people you know, you’re really limiting how much you can gain from networking. It’s hard for introverts like myself to do, but just force yourself to start talking to the closest person next to you! You’d be surprised how much you can learn and what connections you can make, even from people you have no idea who they are.
- Be Genuinely Interested in Other People – As with any relationship, it shouldn’t be about what you can get out of it, but what you can give to others. Part of that is not always talking about yourself! When you meet new people, ask them about where they’re from, what they do, what they’re passionate about, etc. Show that you really care! Be the person you would like to run into at an event. In turn, they will usually ask you questions, and you will be able to have a more engaging and enriching conversation.
- Ask Questions – One of the great things about networking with other filmmakers is that if you’ve run up against a problem, there’s almost a 100% chance that someone else there has as well and will know the answer to getting past it. Or even if they don’t, they may know where you could find the answer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Every filmmaker I know would love to help you. And for the teachers and speakers, that’s what they’re there for. By learning from others, you can avoid many mistakes you would otherwise have to repeat.
- Take Notes – At a lot of events, it’s like drinking out of a fire hose. There’s no way you’d be able to absorb everything you’re taking in. But, If you can take notes you can go back and reprocess everything once you have the brain capacity available.
After The Event
- Maintain The Connections You’ve Made – Once you’ve come off the “social high” of the event, go through all the business cards and connect with them on social media. It’s an awesome way to stay connected with people, even if you’ve only met them once! Another idea is to send a follow up email to each person, thanking them for whatever input they might have given you, and asking to stay in touch. You might also keep an eye out for articles, etc. that might be of interest and send it to them throughout the year. Just show that you haven’t forgotten about them!
- Follow Through With Your Promises – If there was anything you said you would do (such as send a link to something, send them a file, etc) – make sure you follow through on it. Too many people will promise things in person and never fulfil on it. By doing everything you said you’d do, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
- Go Back Over Your Notes – Being able to reprocess everything is a great way to keep it from just going in one ear and out the other. Looking over your notes will really help reinforce what you learned, and help you better remember it.
And a note to those of you who are one of the “old timers” at an event: try to help the new people to feel welcomed, and introduce them to other people. Don’t just try to hang out with the “cool crowd” all the time, but be there for those who don’t quite fit in. You will be a huge blessing!
So there you have it. Some tips for making the most out of a networking opportunity. There’s a lot more that could be said, but I hope it was at least somewhat helpful!
What is something you’ve found helpful when attending an event? How do you make the most of a networking opportunity?