Networking is Fundamental for Creatives

Photo by: Roderiques Photography

Photo by: Roderiques Photography

by: Natalie Lipka

NEWS FLASH: Networking is a fundamentally important aspect of working in the entertainment industry.

I recently had the pleasure of going to an amazing networking event for women in comedy. It was great to be in a room full of women, beautiful both inside and out, there for the purpose of supporting one another. Support being the key word here. It’s not about what I can get from you. It’s about how can I build a relationship with you so that we might work together. Or, what can we contribute to the current conversation so we know if we might consider co-creating something in the future. For me, that is the key to networking. It’s about sharing moments and stories that you can learn from and, in return, people can learn from you.

But to do this well there is something important we must understand. There’s a reason you see a lot of the same people working together on movies over and over again. Wayne and I have talked about this on the show. There is a reason that he and I continue to work with one another. We trust one another. Creating trust and a creative vocabulary between artistic co-workers is a fundamental part of the process of producing professional art. Once you have done this there are four other important things to cultivate.

A conversation is not one sided and neither is networking. Listen to what others in this industry have to say. The ability to be a good listener is something that can be practiced in everyday life as well. Don’t assume that you know what someone is going to say. Let them speak and then, hopefully, they will let you speak. Truly engage. I am a firm believer of eye contact when you are talking. There is nothing worse than being in a conversation with someone and seeing them look around as if trying to figure out if they should be talking to someone else. If you show up and are present in conversations, it will make a difference.

Know Your Strengths
Wayne and I have learned what one another’s strengths are. Combining our strengths is what makes our collaborations thrive. As an actor, you must know what you have to offer and what you are able to give. Some people arrive in Los Angeles already knowing this and for others it takes time. If you haven’t figured out what you bring to the creative table yet, my advice is to figure it out ASAP. Once you do, I believe these important networking events will go a lot smoother.

Have Confidence
I’ve found that people are drawn to confident people. Do not confuse this with arrogance. Truly confident people know what they want and know what they have to offer. There is only one you. For the longest time, I was always nervous to tell someone how long I’ve lived in Los Angeles. If I tell them I’ve been here over a year and I don’t have any credits of “note,” will I be judged? Now that I’ve been here for ten years that feeling could be even worse. But instead I own it. However long you’ve been here and whatever your experiences are, that is what has brought you to where you are now, to this moment that you are in.

Be Proactive
That being said, if the place you are in is affecting your confidence, change it. If you don’t have the reel that you want, take it upon yourself to shoot scenes that you can add to your reel. If you don’t have the credits you want, find out how to network and connect with the casting directors of the shows you want to work on. If you are not getting called back in to a casting office that you know you did some of your best work in, reach out to the CD through email and remind him/her of who you are. It takes work, but it can be done. And going back to, will I be judged? Of course you will, but that is out of your control. The only thing you can control is not judging yourself.

Networking can be an uneasy time and with so much networking happening over social media, I feel like some of the skills may be getting lost. So don’t just hide behind the computer where no one can see you. I’m not saying to stop the social media networking, but get out there in real life, be yourself and share the gifts of YOU that you are meant to give.

What kind of networking tactics do you use?