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 himself or herself and you to someone new.
- Listen and learn. If you have little to contribute to a particular conversation, concentrate on learning the names and interests of the others.
- If you forget someone's name, admit it and reintroduce yourself. If you dread doing that, and 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. Everyone at an event has a common interest.
- The most important thing about networking is to 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.
- Make it a goal in 2002 to meet two new people a day and build your network. The more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it.
- Don't keep what you want a secret. Tell people what you are looking for -- ask them for help.
- 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.
- 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.
Pamela Thompson is a career coach, recruiter, business consultant and mentor for hire. She depends on networking in everything she does. As a career coach, she helps clients focus on and attain career goals. She speaks regularly at colleges and international conferences.