Screenwriting is often an isolated and lonely endeavor, but ironically it is also the foundation of the film industry, which is very much a people business. The film industry is about talent, but also about who you know and making connections. How does a lonely screenwriter go out and make connections? Through networking, of course!
But we all know networking is not that easy. What do you say? What if you're awkward? What if the conversation goes stale?
Fear not, writers! Today I am sharing some icebreakers for screenwriter networking!
Conversation Starters for Screenwriter Networking
Are you someone who has trouble getting conversations started at networking events? Don't worry; here are a few ways to start a conversation!
If the person responds with "things are going good," you can then use a follow-up question to ask how long they've had that particular job. You can also ask how they ended up at that job. The goal is to ask questions to learn more about this person. Be sure to listen actively and note what they're saying.
Tailor this sentence as you see fit to break the ice with someone you know from social media. When you see someone on social media have success, be sure to make a note of it. You never know when you might run into them and find yourself in a position to congratulate them in person. Make sure you ask follow-up questions about whatever the achievement is. How did you get involved in that? When does your new position start? What are you most excited about regarding that thing?
Sometimes acknowledging the awkwardness can help to minimize it. Especially if you're interacting with someone who also seems to feel some networking awkwardness. This sentence should be your entry point into a conversation. Be sure to follow it up with questions. What do you do? How did you get into that? How long have you been doing X?
Writer Networking Do's
At networking events, screenwriters should always be sure to …
- Do your research.
Are you social media friends with any writers, managers, agents, or producers attending this networking event? If you are, be sure to check out their profile! See what they're up to work-wise! It might feel a little weird to scope out people before an event, but it can give you material to start a conversation.
- Put your cell phone away.
Using your cell phone in an awkward situation can provide comfort, but it's not a good look. You're at this networking event to meet people, not hide behind your phone. Being on your phone signals people that you don't want to talk, which is the opposite of what you're looking for.
- Prepare a short 30 to 60-second pitch about yourself.
At a networking event, people will undoubtedly ask you about yourself. Be prepared to have something to say! You don't want to talk aimlessly, seem unsure, or be unenthused. Be prepared to describe your career and screenwriting experiences in an interesting way that makes you sound successful (without bragging).
- Prepare an elevator pitch for your script(s).
Practice your elevator pitch for your scripts before the event. You want to talk about your scripts in an engaging and exciting way, but you don't want to overwhelm the listener. Your pitch should hit the most interesting aspects and leave who you're talking to wanting to know more. If they're interested in what you're talking about, they will ask follow-up questions.
- Look for reasons to follow up with someone that you've just met.
When talking to people, look for reasons to text, email, or even message them on social media. Look for interests or topics that you discussed that you could then bring up again in the future to keep the relationship going.
Writer Networking Don'ts
Things screenwriters should never do at a networking event include …
- Don't just talk about yourself.
When networking, you should aim to do more listening than talking. Be sure to ask people about themselves. Don't rant and rave about your own scripts, troubles, or successes. Ask questions to inquire about the other person. Eventually, social decency will have the other person aiming their own questions at you, and then you can share.
- If you're with a group, don't close yourself off.
Attending a networking event with other people can be great and make things less awkward. It's important, though, to talk to others, not just those in your group. Keep your body language open and look like you're interested in talking to other people.
- Don't push your script too hard.
Don't keep pushing the topic of your script if the person you're talking to seems disinterested.
- Don't aim to talk to as many people as possible.
Favor quality over quantity. Try to have as many quality conversations as possible. Don't just talk to people for talking's sake but strive to have engaging conversations with them where you ask questions and get to know them.
- Don't overindulge.
It can be nice to have a drink and relax while networking, but you never want to drink excessively. Remember, networking is a part of your job as a screenwriter. You wouldn't get drunk at any other job, would you? When networking, you want to leave everyone with the best version of yourself. Getting drunk at an event doesn't make for a great impression.
Hopefully, this blog taught you some approaches to make your next networking event go smoothly and successfully. Happy writing and networking!