You've heard me (and the rest of the world) say it over and over again: Los Angeles is all about who-you-know. So, it should be obvious how important networking is. But let's break this down. What really is "networking"? Going to a happy hour and handing someone your business card? That's certainly part of it. But like, a tiny baby part.
The thing about networking is that it needs to be so much more than handing someone your business card for it to be effective. You really need to cultivate relationships for them to work in the long run. You can't just hand someone your card and hope that they call. You need to be proactive. You need to put in time. You need to grow relationships.
I know, you're thinking, "I need to grow relationships? That's going to take forever!" Well, that's why you need to start now. Whether you're just tinkering with the idea of moving to LA, or you have a plan in place for moving to LA, or you're well on your way here—you need to start networking now. You need to start meeting people—even if it's virtually—at this very moment. Get this party started, and it will be well worth it later.
The thing is, people don't want to help you if you're a "taker". And takers are easy to spot. If you hand someone your card, and present to them why you need them, they may not be willing to help you, especially not right away. A good plan of action is to present to them why you would be of value to them. How can you help them? The best networking relationships are two-sided: people helping people. So don't just look for people who can help you, look for people who you can add value to. Then you need to build that relationship over time so that the connection is more meaningful than just a business card sitting in your rolodex.
Ok, so now I have you thinking, "alright, I get it. I need to cultivate relationships. Well, I'm moving to LA and I'm ready to network. So what do I do?" LA Bound to the rescue:)
Here are 3 ways to start networking now:
1. Facebook and linked in
We all know that social media has changed the way we connect with people, but let's start getting specific and using it for networking purposes. Facebook and LinkedIn are both really great with Groups. Look for groups that relate to what you want to do and start talking to people in them . If you want to work in the film industry, there are so many related groups on Facebook. Just do a search, and you'll find so many valuable goodies. I'm in a few groups and there is definitely a sense of community there, where you can easily reach out to individuals, or post to the group publicly. It's a great way to start meeting people, virtually.
And of course, our Members Only LA Bounders site is a great way to meet people because you already know that everyone is in the same boat as you.
2. Find and contact people
Another easy way to start connecting with people, is to start finding individuals on your own. Use the Internet to find people who already do what you want to do in LA. For example, if you want to be a Grip, look on IMDb for your favorite movies or TV shows, and find the grips who worked on them. Then scour the Internet to find their email address. Just be careful about contacting people who are really high up in the game. It may be easier to contact someone who isn't so high up. For example, if you want to direct, instead of contacting Steven Spielberg, you might try contacting a less-known director whose work you admire (and if you haven't seen any of their work, start watching before you contact them!). You're much more likely to get valuable advice with a less-known person than trying to go through a big-wig's assistant.
3. attend events
There are tons of networking events all over the country, from conferences, to workshops, to happy hours. They are definitely worth checking out, as meeting people in person is usually a much stronger connection than meeting people via online. The big one out here in LA is called Network After Work and I believe they have locations all over the country if you're not here yet. Go to these events even before you move to LA! You never know who you will meet! The next Network After Work event is Tuesday December 9th.
Oh, and stick with LA Bound! I'm planning some pretty fantastic networking events in the future where you'll be able to meet people from many industries.
4. *bonus!!* start your own group
If you're having trouble finding networking groups, start your own! It's easy to do on social media, and you can invite your friends or whomever to join. Networking isn't just for people who can hire you, but also for friends, and other connections who you may want to collaborate with at some point in time.
Ok, moral of the story folks: network NOW, and build relationships over time, instead of staring at a business card. You need to be proactive and make things happen, so let's go!
If you want more specific advice on how to network and complete these tasks, come join us in our exclusive members-only community. I walk you through all of it to make it as easy as your mom was before she had you. *Oh, snap.*