If you’re anything like me, even the word ‘Networking’ makes you cringe. HARD.
Here’s an over-dramatised version of me at any kind of event:
I spend half my evening on my toes (literally) because I refuse to wear high heels and everyone else is taller, I have a huge handbag which gets stuck on doorknobs, rebounds off my thigh and bumps into people, I’m high on Lemonade, I attempt to make jokes (but because I don’t fully commit to them, it sort of just ends up being a bit sad), I forget someone’s name 2 seconds after they’ve said it, and I hate, hate, hate talking about myself so for some bizarre reason, I end up completely fabricating stories about my career that are mostly untrue.
Sound familiar? Here’s some tips that may just change the game for ya…
Get used to talking about yourself
Sounds lame, but it does take some practice. I don’t mean looking in the mirror and rehearsing a spiel, that’s too much, I just mean getting used to talking about what you’re working on, what life is like at the moment for you. Even if you are having a really s*#t time of it, let’s not host a pity party at Flickerfest, that’s not why everyone showed up here tonight. All you have to do is be an active participant in your own life: enjoy it, relish it, and have an opinion. If you’re excited about what you’re doing, then the person listening will naturally be excited too. It’s also okay if you’re stressed out – you don’t have to glorify your daily routine, just be honest! On the flip-side, you don’t want to talk too much about yourself either – when you see eye’s glazing over and extensive champagne sipping, it’s time to shut up.
Do your research
Actively keep up to date with the hip hap. Watch local productions (Film, TV & Theatre), and each time you do, check out the creative team involved (#IMDbislife), and eventually you will be really familiar with your industry. Social media is a great way to find out about events, and what people are up to. But as if you needed another excuse to go scrollin’ anyway…
Don’t try so hard
You don’t have to ask questions about people’s work! *glass shatters*
“What’s happening in your life right now?” “What are you focused on at the moment?” “What are you most excited about right now?” You’ll get much better answers to these kinds of questions than to your generic, run of the mill, Aussie classic; “how are ya?” Try and steer the conversation in the direction of things you’re interested in. Duh, like film, television, theatre, dogs, whatever – the best part about industry events is that everyone there is creative, and interested in the same things you are. The goal here is to have a good conversation with another person, not to hand out business cards or book a job. Whilst we’re here on business cards – don’t go throwing them around the room like confetti – if someone asks for one, go for it, otherwise, keep those bad boys safely in your wallet, or if you’re me, in your oversized bag.
Scared? Too bad. If you go in a group of 4, chances are you’ll stick together like a bunch of high school girls at their first co-ed dance, giggling amongst yourselves, getting tipsy and talking about the cute guy across the room and how it doesn’t matter he’s got braces, you can tell he’s a sprouter. Nothing bad ever came from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone (I’m pretty sure?). Going solo will force you to chat to other people, and guess what, now you’ve got some new friends. (You’re welcome.)
It’s all in your head.
Confidence is a feeling, not a lifestyle or a personality trait. It’s the perception that you lack nothing, and have everything that you need. A person who has confidence that they can talk about themselves in a relaxed, modest way, will be able to talk about themselves in a relaxed, modest way. A person who lacks confidence in their ability to socialise like a normal human being, will probably trip down the stairs, spill their drink on a really important person, and say something inappropriate. The solution to this is not to trick yourself into thinking you are a confident person, even though I’m sure you’re pretty good at that. The answer is in becoming comfortable in what you lack, and getting over it. This is basically a more convoluted way of saying, ‘be yourself’.
* Actual footage of me being confident at a recent networking event *