Earlier this year, we hosted a session for Directors UK members with Tracy Forsyth — coach and founder of Fast Track to Fearless — on how to network fearlessly.
For many people, networking is a chore. But it’s also an inescapable part of the industry, and the ability to build and maintain professional contacts can be a huge help to any film and TV career. In our session with Tracy, she provided plenty of practical steps to taking the pain out of networking, and effectively forging new connections.
Read our round up of Tracy’s networking advice below.
• Most people walk around thinking they’re the only ones who hate networking — not true! 95% of people Tracy has met dread it, across industries.
• Think about your mission: why are you putting yourself through it? Identifying this is important, so that you don’t feel like you’re entering a room with no idea what you want.
• Set a target: e.g. “I’m going to meet three people with the attention of adding contacts to my professional network.” Once you’ve reached your target, you can give yourself permission to go home!
• If you can, research before you attend. Some events will publish delegate lists in advance.
• Make an annual plan of the things you want to go, and get those booked in. Sign up to mailing lists to get more opportunities.
• Google yourself. Check out your LinkedIn profile. If you’re not happy with what comes up, you’ve got to change that — because people will check it out.
• Be discoverable! It is the digital era and you need to appear online, or people won’t know you exist.
WORKING THE ROOM
• Manage your energy and use it in the right way. If you’re prone to introversion, give yourself a limit. #
• Don’t hang around if you’ve spoken to who you need to, or if you know you’re not in the right crowd.
• Work the room in a figure of 8. If you walk around the room in a figure of 8, you look like you have a purpose (even if you don’t!) and can be easily reached – and reach people! — and aren’t hanging around awkwardly at the edge.
• If the person you want to talk to is surrounded by people — don’t be frightened to muscle in! You may have to hold your nerve and hover until that circle opens up — you can only be ignored for so long. Remember your mission!
• If you’re in a circle, don’t hog it! Don’t latch on to your little group – let other people join. Be inclusive.
• Act as if you’re the host. Introduce people to each other! A good way of getting people to repeat their names in case you forget.
A 5 -STEP NETWORKING FRAMEWORK
• 1: Connect and compliment. Say something nice! If you know someone’s work, just seen them on a panel, whatever – open the conversation with a compliment. Even the most experienced people in the industry still appreciate it. If there’s something you have in common – a friend, a former employer – mention it!
• 2: Have a pitch. You need a sentence or two that trips off the tongue that says: who you are, what you do, what you’re known for, and what you want. You need to be able to have this ready to say off by heart.
• 3: Get curious. Ask open-ended questions and listen to the answers. Use your talents and skills – get performances out of people, get information from them, communicate! Give as much as you take. Charming people are charmed. And finally, link it back to you.
• 4: Be clear and direct. If things are dragging, get to the point about you want. For example: “Listen, I won’t take up your time but I’d love to follow up, what’s the best way to contact you?” If you want to stay on their radar, ask how!
• 5: Wrap it up. Wrap it up with the ball in your court. If a conversation is dragging, take charge. Don’t wait until you’re both looking over each other’s shoulder – say “I won’t keep you, you’re going to have loads of other people to speak to, I’ll let you get on.” Or introduce your conversation partner to someone else (explaining why they should meet them)!
A NETWORK IS FOR LIFE (NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS)
• A network needs attention and tending to.
• Stay in contact with people even if you don’t want anything from them right now.
• Remember what’s important to your and contacts and send them things that you think they’ll find interesting.
• Recommend people.
• Be there when they’re in need.
• Amplify your contacts’ work when it chimes with your values.
NETWORKING HACKS (FROM TRACY’S OWN NETWORK)
• Don’t immediately make it something transactional – build relationships for the long term.
• Not everyone is good at keeping in touch. Don’t assume the worst of someone if they don’t reply – it’s okay to be the one who is proactive.
• Always say “great to see you” instead of “great to meet you” – in case you’ve met them before!
• If you’re meeting someone new, do the research beforehand and bring up interesting things they’ve done.
• Give everyone time and treat them with respect no matter what they do.
• Be prepared to have to work hard socially to maintain your network.
• Enjoy meeting junior people as well as more senior people – it’s important to network across all levels.
• Have lunch every day with someone you don’t work with all the time – that way you’re exposed to new ideas that wouldn’t normally hit your desk.
• It’s a small world. Be the kind of person that other people want to have around.
Find out more about Tracy Forsyth at Fast Track to Fearless — where you can also sign up to Tracy’s Weekly Career and Wellbeing tips mailing list.