The basic networking keys to survival darling. To watch the video please click HERE.
I’ll admit for the first 2 days I was in an all out panic, feeling like a caged animal, not sure if I would ever break free, but thanks to my flat out refusal to veer from the path, I learned 2 very important things:
1) I am already surrounded by amazing friends who are happy to help, I just need to ask.
2) The odds of getting help dramatically increases, if I can be clear on what I am asking. (For e.g. I’m a writer/producer with a new single cam comedy and I’m looking for an experienced Director to attach. One simple sentence that anyone can repeat, understand and share with others.)
Now getting so clear that I can effortlessly blurt out that one simple sentence? That’s a whole other story, particularly for those of us transitioning “from Youtube to a Television deal.”
The thing is that in the Independent/Youtube type world its quite normal to be the Writer/Producer/Director/Camera op/Actress/Editor/Social Media Guru/Web Designer etc. Its just accepted that you often wear all the hats and its okay to have a bit of multiple personality disorder, to be a dabbler, but in TV it is not.
In order to be successful in TV and not get kicked off your own project, you sort of need to pick your best lane, the lane where your strongest talents are and drive in it, fast, because everyone else is and they are really good at their specialties.
This is where I found myself these past 2 weeks, staring straight into the reality that its time to choose. What are the talents that make me indispensable? Which are most important to me? Who am I going to be?
Do I want to be an editor? No. A social media guru or web designer? That’s easy, no. Do I want to be an actress? Oooh that’s where I stumbled.
In my school girl fantasy that answer has always been a solid yes. I love acting. It’s fun, challenging, personal, intimate, all things I love. Why wouldn’t I want to do it? But as I sat here contemplating what it would mean to both push for and then literally be the Holster character in our show, much to my own surprise the answer came back as a no.
It hit me that even if I could convince a network to cast me rather than some name talent, if I’m brutally honest with myself, being a professional actress and all it entails is not a job I want. All the image pressure, publicity, the dressing up, the photo shoots, and on and on, is really not my thing. I feel much more at home, in my jeans, yes and potentially even flip flops, running a set or a writers room. That is my area. That’s where I shine. Where I belong. I am destined to be a Showrunner.
Suddenly there was relief. I can’t explain how good it felt to lighten my load and finally just choose a lane. Suddenly I could really see who I am. My value. I have been writing for 20 years and producing for the last 10. I can do this. I am a contribution. Now all I have to do is get out there and meet people. I know exactly who I am and what to ask for.
Which leads me to…
Industry Tip #39
For effective networking, you need to be able to express who you are and what you need in one sentence. If you can’t, its time to get more clear.
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.