I know you’ve heard the saying before: In Hollywood (and in life, really), “it’s all about who you know.”
Your network is everything! Being surrounded by an uplifting, motivating network of people who believe in you and support you is crucial to your success in the film industry. In addition to training at a top acting studio, it is very important to know how to network in the film industry. As such, here are seven tips to help you get started.
1. Attend events that filmmakers, writers, and casting directors attend.
You should definitely fill your life with creative actor friends but actors often get so comfortable in their “actor” groups that they spend less time connecting with the people who are actually making casting decisions. Seek out events you know directors, writers, producers, and casting directors will attend. Q&As are great. Screenings are great. Charity events are great. Be strategic. Do your research and expand your network to include a diverse range of players in the film industry.
2. Engage with industry professionals online.
Social media is such an effective tool for connecting with industry peers. There are so many casting directors on Twitter! Follow them, engage with them, stay on the pulse of what’s happening around you. We know many actors who have begun significant career relationships—and even directly booked work—through social media.
3. Make friends in non-industry settings.
You never know who is doing a downward dog next to you in yoga class or walking her dog next to yours in the park. Do you know what your three closest neighbors do for a living? Do you even know their names? In Los Angeles especially, it’s almost better to meet film industry professionals in a relaxed, unstructured, non-industry setting. This feels more authentic and organic for all parties. So start getting genuinely interested in the world around you. Start making new friends!
4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
In Dale Carnegie’s 1936 book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” one of the central messages is that the best way to get people to like you is to become genuinely interested in other people.
Focus out! Ask people questions about themselves. Become genuinely curious about other people’s lives, interests, and passions. Make people feel special and appreciated by truly caring about who they are and what they love. Do this and you’ll make new friends left and right!
5. Add value to people’s lives.
In the vein of focusing out, you always want to look for ways to add value to people’s lives. Do you know of an actor who fits a role your casting director friend is looking for? Make an introduction. Is your agent looking for a new nanny for her daughter? Send out a blast on Facebook. Figure out creative ways to support people in your network. You will build a reputation as a standout, reliable industry professional who makes things happen.
6. Follow up!
Once you meet and connect with someone, be in touch regularly—not just when you need something. Be on the pulse of industry publications, and know when people in your network have been promoted, have released a film, or have received any kind of award or accolade. Reach out to congratulate people on their wins!
Schedule coffee meetings, hikes, movie screening dates, and karaoke nights out just for the sole purpose of connecting and getting to know people. You can even set up notifications on your calendar to remind you to reach out to certain individuals on a regular basis.
7. Be consistent.
Again, following up just once is not enough. Stay in touch with your network. At the very, very least, you should be contacting everyone in your network at least once a year. But I say every four to six months. You can set yourself reminders on your Google calendar so that you are reaching out to people on a regular basis. Again, add value to other people’s lives. Reach out for the sake of saying hello and checking in! You can always have a photo or graphic attached to the footer of your email that markets any recent career wins. No need to announce them in every single networking email.
Have fun creating and expanding your network! Enjoy the process of meeting and getting to know new people. It truly does take a village to move someone up the ranks of this industry. Have fun building yours!
*This post was originally published on Jan. 1, 2016. It has since been updated.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.