If you’re in IT, networking means one thing, but if you’re a screenwriter it’s another. Networking is all about creating, nurturing and maintaining professional relationships.
As a professional screenwriter, half your job is writing and the other half is networking. Remember that. Half your job is selling your work, and the other half is selling yourself. You want a reputation as someone people want to work with as well as someone who can write compelling and marketable screenplays.
The best time to network is before you need contacts. Not all networking needs to be face to face. Use the online space. Congratulate other screenwriters via their blogs or social media. Add useful comments to posts and online discussion threads, join online groups to see what type of material is out there and keep up to date with the film industry.
Introduce yourself and see if you can help someone first. Perhaps you know of a scriptwriting lead or a film or TV producer looking for certain kind of scripts..
Networking is a form of self promotion and often called NEURAL MARKETING by experts. Your goal is to raise awareness and bury yourself inside the subconscious minds of the people that can help you. If a suitable project comes up, they will think of you.
Get your screenplays read as often as you can. Your screenwriting style will permeate the industry.
In terms of new screenwriter breaking in to the film industry, one common thread that emerges is that a writer knew someone who knew someone who was an agent, worked in a production company or knew someone who did.
There’s still a large element of who you know, not what you know in the industry. Many literary agents and managers work on an referral system. This occurs in all businesses. When the said writers introduced themselves, they used that common acquaintance to get themselves read if they could not be introduced by others. Mention how you know them, know their work and know their interests.
It’s an ice breaker and better suited to cutting through the piles of anonymous scripts and emails that bombard film producers and agents daily.
Whenever a screenwriting guru, film producer or conference is in your town and stages an event, attend. Find out about their outside interests if you can. You need something else to talk about besides business. You need to present as a rounded person with outside interests too. Perhaps you can volunteer. Attend the social event afterwards.
Introduce yourself as a screenwriter and they will usually ask you what sort of stuff you write. Be specific, but also tell them about other stuff you’ve written to show you have range. If you’re trying to break into the industry, stick to one or two genres and master them.
Develop a reputation as a “go to” person. It’s easier to remember that great masseuse, or hairdresser rather than that non descript Jack or Jill of all trades. Feel your way through the conversation. If they’re interested, they’ll ask for a writing sample. Never bail them up and force yourselves onto them. There are laws against that. They want to work the room too.
Have your business cards ready in case they ask for one. You’ll know if the person’s interested. If they’re not interested directly, they might know someone who is. If you exchange contact details, follow up with a “it was nice to meet you” call or email.
Make it a point to tell everyone you meet/know that you’re a screenwriter because you will come up in conversation. They in turn may know someone who knows someone. Some business experts believe that there are six degrees of separation between the person you meet and the one that offers you a deal.
Start a blog, join a chat room or bulletin board to get the latest buzz in your area. There are online screenwriting communities springing up everywhere. Forget about the reserved screenwriter types who feel that their film scripts should do the “talking”. In a sea of scripts, yours is but a drop in the ocean. Ensure yours makes a splash.
If you have any web skills, construct a website with pictures, loglines, attachments, music, anything you have to show others.
If you’ve made a short film or web series, publicize it.
Join a writers’ group. It’s a great way to get feedback and keeps you motivated. Isolation leads to depression which contributes to writers’ block.
Join a film society. Start your own. Maybe at your local community center or local library.
Do you have any other artistic skills? Join a band. Paint, sculpt. Join your local theatre group. Ensure you tell them you write scripts.
So now you have an excuse to leave your office and socialize. It’s all part of the job.
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