Breaking into the entertainment business is tough enough as it, but what if you’ve just moved to Los Angeles and know few people. How do you network? How do you meet people? As much as talent goes a long way in this business, most of the time, it’s who you know that will allow you to succeed. Or even if you do live in LA, there’s always more people you should get to know. The wider the network, the better chance you’ll be successful, however, it can be hard to figure out where to start.
Here are a few tips:
1. INTERNSHIPS: If you can afford it (most internships are unpaid), and have the time to take on an internship, do it. It’s a great way to get your hands dirty and meet people in all parts of the industry. A few things to keep in mind:
a. Be aware that most internships require that you be eligible for school credit. So if you’re not enrolled in a school, don’t be discouraged if a company won’t accept you.
b. You are working for free so don’t over-stay. Unless you feel like there will be opportunity for growth or employment, only commit 8-10 weeks for 3-4 days a week and then move on to the next internship. Attain the knowledge you need, make great connections, do good work and then don’t feel bad about leaving.
c. Don’t settle. Again, you are working for free so make sure it’s a place where you are happy to be and with people whom you enjoy working with.
d. Use your company’s name to meet people. Once you are interning, don’t hesitate to connect with people outside of the company to arrange meetings/drinks (ie assistants). Use the company you are working at as credibility and reach out to people asking to pick their brains. Some might say no, but you have nothing to lose when reaching out to other people in the industry.
e. Cold calling: It may sound scary, but it works. Pick the top 10 companies you would like to work for, find their phone number in imdbpro (or any other database) and call them to inquire about internships or positions. Again, other than a couple minutes on the phone, you have nothing to lose? You are offering people to work for free so if they don’t want to engage you, then move on. You’ll be surprised who will actually take your call.
2. BRAND YOURSELF – When you meet people in the industry, you have to make sure people know more than just your name and where you work. Make sure they know what your goals are. The more specific you can make your goals, the more memorable you will be. For example, if you love to write feature animation, then let people know it. Or if your passion is multi-cam sitcoms then don’t be afraid to emphasize that when conversing with other people. That way, if the person you’re meeting comes across anything in your realm, he/she will know to contact you. If you just say, “I want to produce” or “I want to be a screenwriter for any TV drama” you’re not being very memorable.
3. JOB BOARDS like Entertainment Careers and Velvet Jobs are a great way to find out what companies are hiring, and then if you head over to imdbpro.com, you can find the main points of contact for industry leaders who you can connect with. Pro tip: Follow up with them after you email. They will appreciate the proactivity, generally.
4. MEETUP.COM. This is a great place to meet people who fit your niche. Whether, you are a sci-fi screenwriter, or a comedy TV writer, there are tons of groups that meet on a regular basis who are always looking for new members.
There you have it. Now go out and meet people!