Is networking a nightmare for you?

Photo by Jim Kelly / Link to Flickr

Photo by Jim Kelly (Creative Commons license)

It’s that time of year again – summer is almost over and plans for the festivals (Toronto International Film Festival, Cartoon Forum and MIPCOM) are ramping up.

At least your plans should be forming some kind of tangible meeting schedule.

We spend a lot of money and time going to these compressed industry events. I know I become anxious at times looking at the return on investment I’m receiving. And yet not to attend creates even more FOMO – fear of missing out. Networking parties are one way to keep in touch with large groups of people you know and others you might want to meet.

When we go to industry cocktail parties, there are some things to keep in mind.

First of all, realize that most people hate networking. Sure there are natural schmoozers but for the most part we all find self promotion a little distasteful – who likes people blowing their own horn? But this is a real part of our business and a lifelong practice.

With this in mind, here are some ways to make networking more palatable.

Focus on giving rather than receiving

Actually listen to the person you’re talking to without looking around to see who else might be of interest to you. Listen more than talk. Most people are very interested in talking about themselves so the more you sincerely engage them in their projects with genuine interest the better. Think of ways you can help them or connect them to people who might be of value, which leads to the next tip.

Think long term rather than short term

Ideally, we’re in this wonderful weird creative business for the duration in some shape or form. I strongly believe in karma. It’s a very small industry made up of communities within a larger sphere. People know others. The kinder and more helpful you are to those you meet, the better. Your reputation precedes you and sometimes that’s all you have.

Be honest

Don’t make false promises you can’t keep. Again it’s all about your credibility within the industry. Make a note of what you said you would do, and act on it either straight away or within 24 hours of the event. That way you’ll never feel guilty for over promising and not being able to deliver. And if you can’t do what you said, own up to it – fast!

Next week, I’ll share some tips for the introverts among us.

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If you want to be prepared for the markets you need How to Win Your Next Creative Pitch – my online course and ebook. The materials help structure the stages of your pitch and will leave you feeling more confident.

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