Whether you are a recent graduate looking for your first runner position, or a broadcasting veteran looking for a way back into the industry, don’t underestimate the importance of networking in a job hunt. Creating a network of professional contacts can help you to find unadvertised jobs, build your professional skills to make yourself more employable and help you get your career on the right track.
No one works in isolation so knowing people who work within the industry is the key to both your professional success and your job search success. Networking is the perfect way to meet the professionals in TV land, who can offer you new perspectives and assistance in seeking that all important new gig.
Attend conferences, discussion groups, workshops and trade shows, and make an effort to meet and exchange contact information with industry folk there – you can find out very quickly who the key people are to seek out.
Many success stories have some mentoring chapter in them; the seasoned veteran executive who recognised the budding producer/director. Finding a mentor who has the professional and personal qualities you aspire to through networking, can be a great way to help you to get a foot in the door.
Many TV roles are often unadvertised so if you network with people in the industry, you are in a perfect position to hear about a job via word of mouth and thereby putting you front of the queue for getting it.
If you plan to include professional contacts in your social networking life, using sites such as Twitter and Facebook, be very careful about the details you post about yourself – no one really wants to know how many cabs you got sick in on your last Saturday night out but your professional circle on Monday morning will have, unfortunately, read about it.
Never network solely for the purpose of finding a job as your efforts will be very transparent, and no one wants to be a constant shoulder to lean on; try to be genuinely interested in your professional contacts, and most importantly, learn from them.
Until something permanent or better paying is available, use your networking skills to get in some volunteer work – it’s the experience that may lead to bigger and better things.
Here are my top 10 golden rules:
- Establish a strong relationship so that networking contacts recognise you from a face in the crowd.
- Maintain first name one-on-one recognition.
- Invite the person out for a coffee or a drink and exchange industry information.
- Establish a mutual point of interest – search for something you have in common.
- Send informal notes to confirm meetings.
- Follow up with a breakfast/coffee meeting to stay in touch.
- Express interest in finding out more about the person’s talent and knowledge.
- Forward industry articles of interest.
- Invite contacts to social events attended by other friends and associates.
- Make ongoing contact every four to six weeks until you feel comfortable that this person is a viable part of your network.
As a general rule people tend to feel most comfortable with others in their age group and this is typically a range of around seven years on either side of a person’s age; it helps create an atmosphere of compatibility but TV is full of young minded people and there are plenty of industry dudes that are 55 going on 25 so this doesn’t always apply.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that people are attracted to others who are most like them, or to those who offer a different perspective on things; people appreciate and remember when you show personal interest in them (listen out for their charity interests for example).
I’ll leave you with this – networking works! Good relationships take time to build so you must put the effort in, they cannot be maintained without regular communication. But it will pay off in the end so get out there!