I frequently talk about the immense power of building relationships in my ScriptMag column, as it is essential to breaking into the industry and it is definitely the best way to ignite your career. I’ve written about the importance of relationships, from the power to turn a cold query smoking hot, to how to get an agent. It’s Number 2 on my list of the top three reasons you haven’t sold a script. I’ve offered up Practical Pointers on networking horizontally and vertically – peer to peer, as well as with those a level above you – with writers who are where you want to be, as well as with working industry pros who can help you get there.
I pepper my pieces with real life examples, to convince you that my how-to’s are not only drawn from experience, but are effective.
In Part One of my column, The #1 Secret to Getting Read and Getting Ahead, I explained why relationships are essential because of how the industry works and how we think. In my latest piece, I emphasized networking in real life as well as building authentic relationships in the virtual world of social media. Even if you are staunchly anti-networking, I hope to show you that you can find your own style and pace and that it can be life-changing.
While you may be more comfortable at home or holed up wherever you like to write, it is more challenging to build relationships from the comfort of your couch. So get up and get out!
I was invited to an industry event, pre-Covid. Little did I know what was in store for the world, much less what going would lead to. I wasn’t much in the mood to go out, even though I knew it would probably be an enjoyable evening. Chances were, that by the end of the day I’d be working or I’d be tired from working. So I had to trick myself. As my invitation included a guest, I invited a Plus One. No way I’d bail if I had committed to going with someone.
That was the spark.
Now to ignite the blaze!
Here’s the building relationships chance encounter:
- I spotted a producer I had known and worked with for extensively, although we had not been in touch recently.
- I made the effort to approach him.
- He was in conversation, so I had to try a second time.
- He offered me his new business card, an exciting new venture, and suggested we catch up.
- I followed up the next day with a nice email, specific to the event.
- He suggested we meet for breakfast.
You might define this as “luck,” but remember:
- I forced myself to create this opportunity by attending the event.
- I took the step of seeking out the producer, despite obstacles.
- I followed up promptly and professionally.
Here’s where years of preparation comes in:
- From there I learned about his new venture. And shared some of my current passion projects.
Excellence and “Give before you get,” without expectations:
- I happily did a favor for him, stepping in at a film festival screening, which happened to show off my creative and organizational skills, and my ability to think on my feet.
- It progressed to an active discussion of projects.
- I met with his partner.
- I was asked to look at materials, projects, and presentations and offered articulate feedback.
- I even received a job offer.
Luck? Not a bit. When it comes to building relationships this is the formula:
Luck = Opportunity + Preparation + Action x Excellence
Opportunities to advance projects, including one involving the person who said yes to being my Plus One that night. Invitation to attend another event. Meeting more people in the company. Showing up, participating, giving it my all without asking for anything in return. Developing a new, productive partnership, a two-way street benefiting everyone involved.
And one of the best side effects? The chance to use my new opportunities to advance projects with several writers I have had relationships with for many years, including several who had taken my seminars and kept in touch, becoming friends whose success I root for.
Create your own luck by taking advantage of opportunities to connect with other people.
By being prepared as a creative person when the opportunity arises.
By taking action.
And by delivering on that action with no less than excellence.
That is the secret to successfully building relationships and the secret to igniting your career.