Find a room full of people intimidating? Hate the idea of selling yourself?by
Don’t worry – these feelings are totally natural. And like public speaking, learning a new language, or anything really, people get good at networking through practice.
Needless to say, networking in the creative industries is essential. Most creatives at some point in their careers will go freelance and when you’re freelance, your networks, connections and reputation can be the difference between paying your rent, and not paying your rent.
So even if you hate it and think you’ll never be good at it, these are skills worth honing. Here’s our definitive 'hot to' guide to networking to help you make like Rihanna, and work, work, work, work, work your connections.
1. Networking isn’t all about events
In fact, you will probably do your most fruitful networking at work and on projects, which is great because it means you don’t need to find abstract reasons to talk to strangers in a big room - you just need to be good at your job and friendly at work. At the beginning of your career, short-term work experiences that give you the opportunity to meet people in the industry and show them what you can do are crucial. Treat them like the great opportunity that they are, and people will remember you.
Try networking online too. Who do you admire, or who works at your dream place? Find out their email address and send them a flattering email, telling them how you’d love to hear more about their work and if they’d be available for a coffee etc. You’d be surprised how successful this approach can be.
2. Though events are pretty good too!
First things first: there are tonnes of networking events out there for all manner of industries.
Check these out:
3. Volunteer to work at events – or take a friend
Standing around with nothing to do and no one to talk to at networking events is the worst! Even just standing there for a few minutes looking at everyone else in lively conversation can feel like a lifetime.
You can take a friend, but make sure you don’t just spend the whole time talking in the corner to each other. You need a wingman – not someone who distracts you so much from networking that you don’t get any done.
Alternatively, think about volunteering to work at the event. You constantly have something to do, and you have a million reasons to speak with people at the event.
4. Ask questions
Networking doesn’t have to be a mini dragons den, constantly pitching yourself to scary people feel somehow more influential and powerful than you. If you find it hard talking about yourself, ask questions, such as...
“Why did you come to this event?”
"What do you do, how did you get into that?”
Open questions are a great way to find out about what other people do (and trust me, people love talking about what they do). Also, if you’ve already found out what they do, it’s easier to pitch the conversation at something that interests them. They will be much more likely to remember you this way.
5. Think about your first impression
Inevitably, you’ll need to introduce yourself at some point. So it’s worth thinking about in advance. Be succinct.
Like with anything, think about showing them who you are, as well as what you want to be. E.g:
“I’m a student at the moment, but I’m really passionate about story-telling so I’m looking at different avenues for getting into film.”
“I’ve just left college and am exploring how to get into media production roles. In my spare time I’ve start a collection of short videos and created a YouTube channel. It’s small but growing and I like to push my films through twitter and other social channels.”
6. Follow up immediately
Sending a friendly email straight away is a great way of showing you’re interested, keen and efficient. It doesn’t need to be longer that “great to meet you, let’s grab a coffee” or “it'd be great to talk through some opportunities of working together in more detail”. It also shows you’re a person who gets stuff done.
For more tips on how to network, don’t forget to visit the Create Jobs ft. Network + Chill area of the NME #Lifehacks event tonight – 13 October, 2016.