The basic networking keys to survival darling. To watch the video please click HERE.
There is nothing like simply declaring that you will achieve something, to put you on a collision course with the very thing that has always stopped you, and, for me, that thing is networking. Boom. There’s my road block. Only this time its got flashing lights and a not so subtle sign across it that reads “Make no mistake, there is no avoiding me.” I might have been blind before, but now I see.
I can see that I have spent the past 20 years completely satisfied with my own excuses that “I am just not that good at the networking thing.” No need to try. Not my area. And instead, wildly overcompensating in the areas of creativity (writing/producing etc), all while attempting to convince myself, and anyone who would listen, that as long as I’m good enough at my craft that my lack of networking skills won’t matter.
The trouble with that is, its just not true. Networking really does matter. And avoiding it will only lead you to becoming that weird lady who could have been.
The even harder truth is that I have had several projects over the years that likely could have gone to television. Great projects, created with some amazingly talented people, but as always, when it came time to sell I had no people I could sell it to. I let them and myself down.
I hadn’t spent the time to build relationships with industry execs, and as it turns out, industry execs don’t spend a lot of time listening to the ideas of people they don’t already have relationships with. They have plenty of creators they do have relationships with and they are busy listening to them.
So what did I do about this? I went back in my shell and created more.
Starting today this pattern is over. Done. I owe it to my amazing co-creator Mhairi, to our show, to my family & friends who have been rooting for me, and most importantly to myself, to once and for all face this fear head on and win.
In light of that decision, and in light of the fact that this is way past due, I have decided to take radical action. I have cleared my schedule and will be committing to a 40 day challenge.
The plan: for the next 40 days I will meet as many industry executives as possible (and that includes everyone from executive assistants to studio heads) and spark relationships with them that I will then maintain for a lifetime. Like the oh-so-brilliant Shonda Rhimes, I am going to starting saying Yes! (Thank you Shonda – deeply and truly)
Does this scare the bejeezus out of me? Hell yes it does. But am I going to do it anyway? You better believe it. I welcome any and all support. If you have someone you think I should meet, please share. If you’re a fellow artist realizing you are just like me, get on board.
Which leads me to…
Industry Tip #38
Content creators must spend at least 33% of their time actively building a network, or they will have no one to share their work with when its done.
And without further ado. I leave you with this great interview from BTR Productions where I share what its like being a female comedy writer in Hollywood and why I am so excited about our show.
Sometimes as artists, we can get so consumed by the difficulty of our chosen path, so deep in the pain of just wanting to get our work out into the world the way we want it, that we forget that the executives are not just some crazy gate keeper trolls wielding their judgements and standing in the way of our ultimate success, but rather are just people, with their own expertise to share, difficulties to face and goals to achieve.
It’s kind of like that phenomena that occurs between parents of young children, where each is working so hard in their own way and is so exhausted, that all they can see is what the other is not doing. They get caught up in the never ending spin cycle of trying to prove who is doing the “most”, or whose contribution is more important, instead of what is really needed, which is to turn to each other and just say “hey, I know this is hard, but you’re doing a great job.”
Which leads me to…
Industry Tip #22
Give an entertainment exec a hug. I’m kidding. You might frighten them. You weird creatives running around giving everyone a hug. The real tip is to make friends with the executives. Get to know them. Take an interest in their goals, hopes, dreams, concerns. Familiarize yourself with the challenges they face and be the solution. Make it fun. Be willing to learn something.
The age old battle between art and commerce doesn’t have to be a battle. We are creatives. If we’re doing our job right we should be able to create the art we want while still considering the legitimate concerns of commerce. If we can’t do it, then maybe its just not the right fit is all.
So without further ado, I leave you with Episode 7 of Season 2. The one where Tallulah starts to realize maybe Holster and her ideas weren’t so bad after all, and that maybe its time to eat a little humble pie and woo her back.
6 tips on networking darling. Click here to watch the video.
Once you’ve got your show up on Youtube, and your online presence clean, clear and beautiful, it is time to get out there and meet people because no matter how digitally dependent this world gets there is still no replacement for the connection that is made when you meet people in person.
In the early days, the places we would go to meet web industry people were Digital Hollywood (a 4 day conference, twice annually, which we highly recommend), and IAWTV events (an organization we are both currently members of). It was at these events that I discovered something wonderful about my partner Mhairi that I had not known, and that is that she can work a room with the best of them.
Although everyone who knows me refuses to believe it, I am actually quite shy, particularly in a room full of people I don’t know, and it has been my Achilles heal for years. I create lots of lots of content, but stumble when its time to sell it, out of a severe lack of confidence in my ability to express who I am and what I’ve got going on in any sort of compelling or concise way. When faced with this proposition, particularly in a room full of industry strangers, I usually just clam up and am reduced to a smile, a big one. I become perpetual smile girl, which is why it was like a miracle to discover that my compadre suffered from no such thing.
For me, watching Mhairi mingle at these events, was like watching Michael Jordan play basketball. I was in awe. How does she do that? She actually looks like she’s having fun (because she was). How is that even possible? She was meeting people right and left and all I had to do was stand there and laugh. And once the ice was broken, I had no trouble chiming in. This was a match made in heaven. Which brings me to…
Industry Tip #6
If you are not good at networking events, then bring somebody with you who is, but go! You have to go.
Entertainment is a team sport. There is no such thing as making it on your own. You need to know lots and lots of people (and I’m not just talking about the people at the top) you need a solid network of friends that extend into all aspects, all levels. Over time you will find that they will help you, and you will help them, but nobody can help anybody if you don’t know each other.
Find the organizations, workshops and/or events that relate to the field you want to be in and then do the work to get to know the people involved. Having a friend who is good at networking with you is a huge help, but if you must go it alone, then I will leave you with a tip I learned from the master herself; wear at least one little accessory (a hat, playful scarf, amazing necklace, cool pair of shoes) something that can be a talking point. People will use it as an icebreaker, “I love your hat,” and you can do the same finding something about them, anything you can genuinely comment on.
As I learned from Mhairi time and time again, this is not disingenuous, its just a conversation starter and you can’t get around needing a conversation starter, therefore a compliment is the perfect way to go.
That’s all for today but as always I leave you with Episode 4 of Season 1 of Feathers and Toast where Tallulah goes to great lengths to teach you the complicated inner workings of how to make a PB&J sandwich and Miso soup from a bag while pandering to yet another demographic. How anyone ever saw this and thought we were serious about this being a cooking show still makes me laugh to this day. In fact, I’m laughing right now. Enjoy!
Also, just curious…what do you think we are hinting at with these Behind The Scenes bits? If you had to guess who do you think the Fed Ex guy is to Tallulah?