Network. Network. Network.
A word that has been drilled into our heads our entire careers. Here are some tips for anyone starting out in the creative industries.
When it comes to networking; actress, writer, director, and producer of the HBO hit series Insecure, Issa Rae offers a simple but effective solution for aspiring creatives.
“Who’s next to you? Who’s struggling? Who’s in the trenches with you? Who’s just as hungry as you are? Those are the people that you need to build with.”
Issa says she did not see herself being accurately portrayed in mainstream media, so she set out to fill the gap herself. She gained a massive following online through her mini-series The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl on YouTube, which garnered almost 20 million views.
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.
Word of mouth is a term that is fundamental to the hiring culture of the production industry, which only succeeds in elevating the importance of one’s reputation. You may come highly recommended, but without having the reputation to match, your recommendations are practically worthless.
“Congratulations to the winners and runners-up of the first Freelancer of the Year Awards, but will they get more contracts now as a result of their well-deserved awards?… If the winners’ peers and employers have voted for them, they must have something good. Frankly, as far as getting that next production job goes, it’s not just how good you are at your work that really matters, but how good other people think you are… There is a small group of freelance programme-makers whom all the companies compete for all of the time. They are the must-have hires that commissioning editors insist on, and indies work hard at building up a close relationship with them. These freelancers need never be unemployed if they don’t want to be, they are the height of fashion.”
Congratulations to the winners and runners-up of the first Freelancer of the Year Awards, but will they get more contracts now as a result of their well-deserved awards? I think so, and here is why. Only five days after the awards ceremony Sandy, Wayne and Ash will have had more potential employers than before looking at their CVs. If the winners’ peers and employers have voted for them, they must have something good. Frankly, as far as getting that next production job goes, it’s not just how good you are at your work that really matters, but how good other people think you are.
Networking has long been the buzz word of the media industry and the benefits of effective schmoozing and professional reputation can be career defining. This week Moray reminds us of the importance of networking and illustrates how “belonging” can aid you in carving out a successful career for yourself.
Networking’ is a grindingly hackneyed phrase. It is as if no new initiative can be discussed without the words ‘social networking’ somewhere in the first sentence. Or does it make you think of grimly ‘working a room’ with a glass of warm white wine in hand, a forced smile and a babble of small talk? And yet the truth is that every reader of this page is dependent on their own networks for their ongoing income. If you can work out where you want to be next, you will probably need your networks to get you there. This is the key maxim: a network is something that you make for yourself, not something you join.
Of course, there are all the online social networking sites, the Linked-Ins and Facebooks and others, which really can be useful to join and are free of charge. And then there are the industry-specific networks of which the ProductionBase is arguably the biggest, and which are an important part of your professional kit. These are ready-made networks in which it is a good idea to take part, but even then the onus is on you to take further the connections they offer.