There’s a big difference between star f--king and networking.
Successful networking doesn’t mean making friends with people who are “above” you in the professional stratosphere. Don’t kiss up to casting directors or agents, directors or producers. Don’t push to insert yourself into successful clans. You should be polite and professional, of course, and show gratitude for opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy a muffin basket for your agent every time she sends you out to read. And don’t chat up (or hit on), say, a casting director at a mutual friend’s party. Those moves are too obvious and entirely cheesy. Frankly: You’ll look desperate.
Successful networking starts with the people you know right now. They might be classmates, co-workers, friends, or friends of friends. Active, smart networking might include signing up for a scene study class, seeing all your friend’s shows, volunteering to usher for the night, or bringing cookies to strike. Offer respect and kindness to friends and acquaintances with whom you have common ground and goals. Widen the circle in which you are seen as a hard-working professional.
As your career advances, you’ll be presented with opportunities to help others get ahead. Your friends and acquaintances will get those opportunities too. Your number one networking rule is to be the kind of person with whom your friends will want to share their breaks.
Jackie Apodaca is an associate professor and the head of performance at Southern Oregon University.