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NETWORKING… NETWORKING… NETWORKING…

by: Suzanne Lyons

Early on in my producing career here in Los Angeles I would be at a party or event and all too often people would approach me and say, “Suzanne, I hear you’re a film producer. I’m an actor, here’s my headshot.” Or, “Hi, my friend told me you’re a producer. I’m a director, here’s my reel.” Or, “Here’s my screenplay,” “Here’s my composer CD,” etc…

It drove me crazy! In every other business in the world we create relationships (or should!) first. Don’t just jump right into action, “Please read my script.” Create a relationship, talk about the possibility of working together, the opportunity and the benefits that could be provided and then, and only then, make a request (take the action.)

Like location is to a real estate agent, the same holds true in the entertainment industry. Instead of “location, location, location”….. it’s “networking, networking, networking.” You want to create authentic relationships with people. In a six week long workshop I led years ago the homework was to have a party each week and at the party (and during the entire six weeks) you were not allowed to talk about your career. So often when we’re meeting people for the first time or we’re in a group of people, we get nervous or scared and we feel comfortable only talking about our jobs and careers.

The idea of not being allowed to talk about your career for six weeks really helped people break that habit. It forced people to talk about something other than their career! So, if you loved hiking, you invited your friends to go hiking and you asked them to bring along the casting director friend of theirs, because you’d done your homework and you knew that she loved hiking as well. Or you knew that director you wanted to meet loved gourmet cooking as much as you did, so you asked a friend of yours who knew him to invite him to your gourmet cooking party. Your friends felt comfortable inviting their friends because they knew you weren’t going to talk about anything other than hiking or gourmet cooking.

During that workshop if someone asked you what you did, you told them. But the whole idea was to get people sharing about the things in life that they loved, the things they were excited and passionate about. Not just their career. It was a lot of fun and what surprised me more than anything was that during that six week seminar the participants got more jobs than in any of the Flash Forward Institute seminars combined! People got back in touch with who they were and all the other wonderful aspects of life that they loved.

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