Networking is second nature to some people; others – especially we Brits – would rather poke their own eyes out.
Networking need be nothing more taxing than taking the time to have conversations with interesting people. It’s what programme makers do all the time to produce their programmes and find their next jobs, but there’s still the sense that ‘networking’ is somehow distasteful. However, done right, it doesn’t have to (nor shouldn’t) be about frantically thrusting your business cards at anyone within arm’s reach.
The key is to approach it with the right attitude – it’s about building long-term relationships (friendships, if you prefer) with like-minded people. In fact you will be much more successful if you are show a genuine interest in what other people are doing. Offering help or advice to them now will open their door to you in future.
The reason for networking is simple – broaden your contacts outside the your social and professional circle and you will hear about new events, spark ideas and find experts (and possibly spot potential talent) before anyone else. But how to get started? It is easier than you might think – find networking events and turn up. That’s it.
Likemind holds monthly breakfasts in 50 cities around the world for a mix of creative types – you are likely to meet people from marketing, advertising, and print journalism as well as bloggers, multiplatform content creators and photographers. It’s friendly and there’s no agenda, apart from good coffee and stimulating conversation.
I met Mark McGuinness at my first Likemind, and have since been following his creativity blog Wishful Thinking. He writes lots of good, thought-provoking stuff that will help if you need to kick start your creative thinking. Mark also wrote a review of his first Likemind meet, which is much more detailed (and therefore useful) than anything I could ever produce (early mornings and too much caffeine are no good for my memory).
The Tuttle Club at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art is a weekly social media networking event. it’s held on Friday mornings and attracts a mix of bloggers, authors and game developers. There are some great people to talk to if you need help developing interactive/multiplatform applications for your programmes.
At my first Tuttle, I was excited to meet Mecca Ibrahim who wrote One Stop Short of Barking, which is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how to position themselves for the best seats (or indeed how to manoeuvre yourself onto a packed train) on the London underground.
But I was more excited to learn that Mecca used to work at MOO. I highly recommend you order a set of mini MOO business cards to use at networking events, film festivals and conferences and you’ll instantly start conversations and win fans. Thanks to Thayer Prime, who I also met at Likemind, for giving me her MOO card and starting the revolution.
Make MOO MiniCards, Business Cards, Stickers, Postcards and Greeting Cards from your Facebook photos. Use up to 100 different photos.
Incidentally, I’ve just looked up Thayer’s blog and seen she’s written a post on Twittetiquette. Lots of senior TV folk (i.e. commissioners) are all twittered up, so it would make sense for you to follow them. If you think Twitter is just for kids, think again – in July 08 NASA announced that it had discovered water on Mars via Twitter. Put your Facebook status to sleep and go to the big boys’ playground.
Meet Up has five million members in 3600 cities and has groups for all kinds of interests, from dining clubs events dedicated to Chihuahua owners. They can be useful for finding experts or spotting potential characters for your show.
Mediabistro – caters mainly to print journalists and writers. It holds networking events in US cities and London every couple of months (subscription required).
Creative Coffee Club holds events in London and Leicester aimed at academics, public sector workers, teachers and business folk and designed to encourage workplace creativity. I haven’t been to this one but will write a review when I have.
Look for groups in your local area or start your own – and let me know if you know of other events that you enjoy and recommend.
Other ways to generate new factual TV ideas: