Networking Events… Ugh!!! Do I have to?!?
The short answer is, “No, of course not.” But expanding your network will help you meet every acting goal on your list. So, rather than seeing networking events as a cringe-inducing waste of time, embrace them as a simple path to create authentic relationships.
Here at Career ACTivate, we like to use the word RELATIONSHIPS far more than networking.
Networking events can feel transactional. Like, “I can do this for you, if you do this for me.” And who likes that? Not me!
I want to share two ways to look at these gatherings that can potentially make them feel less icky. And just so my eye can stop twitching every time I type “Networking”… we are going to use the words “Relationship-Building” instead.
OPTION #1: The “Go-Giver” Approach
The first way to approach a Relationship-Building event is to attend with a “go-giver” attitude of solving a problem for someone. You have YOU-nique characteristics, hobbies, assets that truly serve the common good.
Take a moment to think about 2 things you can offer to others from your unique set of skills and assets .
Think about how you can find at least one person you can genuinely connect with and to whom you can offer that thing you do so well.
All of sudden, this positions you in a place of being a giver and at the beginning of forming an authentic relationship.
Here is an example:
Shanelle, an actor, attends a Film Independent event. They meet a writer whose story resonates with them. Shanelle says:
“If you ever have a reading, I can connect you with a couple of my actor friends who would be happy to read for you.”
Maybe Shanelle takes it a step further… What if they were the person to coordinate an informal reading with their buddies and the writer?
“Whoa Whoa Whoa, Tiffany! That is a lot!”
Shanelle can feel out the writer’s response to see if they are interested in simple introductions to actors. OR if the writer would be open to getting support in creating an informal reading. Many non-actors don’t have an abundance of actor friends that will read a script for free. Shanelle is an asset because they are providing something that the writer needs.
They are also supporting their friends by introducing them to new contacts, giving them a chance to act, and introducing them to a writer.
Shanelle gets to know the writer much better, and now they have explored and possibly created an authentic relationship with this writer.
See why I don’t use the word networking. This is all about true authentic connections.
OPTION #2: The Goal-Centric Approach
The second way you can approach a Relationship-Building event is by going in with a goal.
Maybe your goal is to find a fellow sci-fi nerd. Maybe your goal is to find someone of your same cultural background. (I am Trinidadian so I am always on the lookout for that!) Maybe your goal is to find the best logline.
Take a moment to think about what outcome would be satisfying for you.
Of course, meeting a casting director that offers the role of one’s dreams would be perfection. But, we can reach that by building authentic relationships centered around things and people that truly resonate with you.
This positions you in a place where that audition or booking could come naturally with ease.
Use this to guide your interactions and conversations at the event and come up with a specific connection strategy that could help move you one step closer to your goal.
Here is an example:
Ellis wants to work on a film that could potentially go to a big film festival like Sundance or Tribeca. They attend a Relationship-Building event, like AT&T Shape. Ellis brainstorms goals for this particular event which could lead them to an authentic relationship that gets them closer to their dream.
Ellis’s Goal Brainstorm:
- Attend the short film showcase and congratulate one of the creators of a short film that they truly like.
- At the networking tent, state their big goal at least once during each meeting. *Sidenote: AT&T Shape has a networking tent where you can set up meetings with other creatives in advance.*
- Mention to one person a recent Sundance film that Ellis likes, and ask them for a suggestion of a film that is circulating festivals right now that they should watch.
Ellis now has several options but decides to go with option #3.
They choose this because it allows them to mention Sundance. Additionally, this question helps to find out the taste of the person they are talking to.
Thereby further figuring out if this is an authentic connection. It also positions Ellis in a place of being a giver and opens up conversation which can be hard to do with a stranger.
So there you have it!
Try The Go-Giver Approach or The Goal-Centric Approach to get out of your head at the next networking event.
And if you want to dig deeper into relationship-building, check out Career ACTivate’s Home Study Course, The Relationship Roadmap, that will revolutionize how you build relationships and book work.
Or if you’re looking for hands-on guidance to help define your goals and build your confidence, we invite you to explore becoming a part of our yearlong Elite Coaching & Mastermind Program, where you can be paired with a Coach to walk you step-by-step through your next Relationship-Building event.