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The Career Coach: How to Network

I recently got a message in a fortune cookie--"A wise man knows everything.A shrewd one, everybody." That message is the essence of networking.

I recently got a message in a fortune cookie--"A wise man knows everything. A shrewd one, everybody." That message is the essence of networking. As an independent recruiter, I have found that no matter what you do in the entertainment arena, networking is key.

Here are some networking tips to try out at the next function you attend:

* If you have trouble getting started, think of it as a game. Make a goal of meeting at least 2 people at the next party or meeting you attend. Years ago I went to a party with 3 friends, one of whom issued us all a challenge. Our assignment: to meet 5 people. Instead of hanging around together, we went off in all directions and reported back the results. We had all met 5 different people--so now our network had expanded by 20!

* If you are painfully shy, go to events with someone who is good at networking. He or she will take you around and introduce themselves and you to someone new.

* Listen and learn. Force yourself to eavesdrop on a group. Learn their names.

* If you forget someone's name, admit it and reintroduce yourself. If you dread doing that, if you have a friend with you, reintroduce yourself to the person and then introduce your friend. Then pause so the person can introduce himself.

* Be prepared to meet people, follow up and keep in touch. Bring plenty of business cards and exchange them with everyone.

* In a group made up of strangers and acquaintances, talk to someone you don't know. Once you introduce yourself to a stranger, he or she is now an acquaintance and could be part of your network.

* You have something in common with everyone. Make it your goal to find out what it is. This is fairly easy to do at any animation event--whether it's an event like the Animation Expo presented by ASIFA Hollywood, or the Career Boot Camp presented by L.A. SIGGRAPH and Women in Animation. Everyone at an event has a common interest.

* Never whine, gossip or speak badly of a fellow artist or employer. Be nice to everyone. It's a small world, especially in the entertainment industry.

* Prepare for meetings by reading the trade journals or the program. Read the bios of the speakers who do the presentations before you attend the meeting. Find out about the people you are going to meet. Do your homework. It'll be easier to speak to people if you know something about them.

* You don't have to wait for an event to try networking. Form a relationship with people in charge--go to lunch with the boss. Network with people on other projects at your company. Network with people from other companies too. Your next job may come from one of them.

* Be positive and flexible. Be a team player.

* There is no such thing as a small job. Do your best on every job you get and your circle of fans will grow.

* Everyone, yes, everyone is a potential job lead. Don't keep what you want a secret. Tell people what you are looking for--ask them for help.

* The most important thing about networking is you must be prepared to give before you get. Find out what you can do for someone else. Perhaps someone is having back trouble (not uncommon in the animation industry!) and you know a good chiropractor or acupuncturist. Be ready to lend a hand and hands will reach out to help you when you need it.

Resources:

To find out more about LA SIGGRAPH events call 310-288-1148 or check the web site.

LA Chapter ACM/SIGGRAPH PO Box 9399 Marina del Rey, CA 90295 Fax: 310-578-7369 E-mail: Los_Angeles_Chapter@siggraph.org.

For an international listing of chapters, see www.siggraph.org/chapters.

To find out about Women in Animation call 818-759-9596 or write:

PO Box 17706 Encino, CA 91416.

Chapters are in New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Orange County, and Los Angeles.

If you have a question that relates to a work or career issue, please contact us so we can answer it.

Pamela Thompson is an independent recruiter who lives in Sun Valley, California.

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