Im my line of work (independent movie producing), networking is SO important. When I first got started in 2007, I really wasn't the best socially. I have since tried a few tricks and developed better abilities at being charming, making a lasting impression and forming new relationships. I wanted to share a few of the things I learned with you as PR and networking tips can really be useful in many situations.
Let's start with the basics ones:
- Develop a strategy before showing up to the event where you are going to network (in my case, mostly festivals, parties and mixers). Know who you are hoping to meet (distributors, filmmakers, etc.) based upon what your networking needs are right now and what kind of people will be at the event.
- Have a buddy. If you already know somebody else that will be at the event, call them up before or meet up with them there. Standing alone at an event can be a little intimidating and your buddy might know people you don't and introduce you, therefore making your network grow. I would add: ton always have the same buddy, mix it up!
- Remember names. This is SO important. I can also be hard, as there are lots of people and you might be nervous. Use tricks (like associations) and make sure you call the person by their name. Makes them feel special.
- Look people in the eyes. It gives them the impression you are honest (which you are) and interested in what they are saying.
- Be engaging. Notably with your body language. Don't be in a closed position (for example with your arms crossed) and smile (I am always smiling!).
- Be organized. Place all business cards you receive together, make sure you organize them in your adress book when you get home and follow up on any promise you might have made (" I'll send you a copy of my latest film in the mail!").
This si a good start already! If you are comfortable with these tips and want to spice things up a bit more, you can do like me and apply the following techniques:
- Be memorable. That means: be different, original in your approach. When I first started networking in the movie industrie, people wouldn't necessarily remember me from one meeting to the other. I thought: "What a waste of time to have to start all over every time". So I started using clothes to be different and noticeable. Never since has somebody forgotten me! I make sure always to look interesting but never sexy. I want to be charming but of course seem professional. The outfit shown in this post I would wear at a local festival party (if I was out of my province I would go a little dressier). Sometimes something as small as an accessory (like the glasses here), can makes a big difference.
- Make a lasting impression. My favorite way to do this is by making sure I touch the person at some point in our conversation. Could be just a good hand shake or touching their upper arm, could (and probably should) be very subtle. Research has shown that someone is more likely to remember you if there was an (even slight) physical contact.
- If you have an opportunity to be in front, seize it! To this day, the best networking night of my life was at a festival ceremony where I was giving out an award. Because I was introduced on stage, the whole room then knew who I was and felt comfortable to come talk to me. I made many new contacts that night and even a few friends! It can be intimidating to be on stage, but it's totally worth it in the end.
- Talk about something else than work. This tip I learned from my friend Sophie (who is amazing at networking!). We are all passionate about our work, but some of the best work relationships can start up talking about other things around a glass of wine or dancing around at a party. The people who have fun with you will remember you (and your projects!) forever. This I promise you. Of course: keep tabou subjects (religion, politics, etc.) at bay and don't have too much to drink (networking = work).
In the end, it's important to remember that these people want to know you, they are just not aware of it yet! In a networking situation, always be the hero of the situation and don't wait for others to come to you. Be natural and know what your goals are.
And: have fun with it! At the end of the day, life is short!
I hope these tips are helpful to you :)
Have a lovely day every one!