I have to confess to having a love/hate relationship with ‘Networking’. I hate the idea of it – the thought of walking into a room full of people I don’t know sends shivers down my spine. The reality is always, thankfully, a whole lot less anxiety-inducing and a LOT more fun! And it’s one of those things that is an important part of the film and television industry so it’s better to embrace it if you want to get on in this business.
Some networking gatherings are, admittedly, hard work, where you feel like there’s a gang and you’re just not in it. Others, and the London Screenwriters’ Festival is one of these, are warm, open and friendly. Whether you’re sitting in a session or standing in a queue for coffee the chances are that the person next to you will say ‘hello’ and introduce themselves. If they don’t and you do, you’ll almost certainly be met with a smile and the start of a conversation in return.
I would approach any networking opportunity with a mixture of planning and open-mindedness. Make sure you do your homework about who else will be there and don’t be afraid to approach people you admire or want to work with. That said, I’ve seen people be so focused on meeting the ‘big cheeses’ that they’re rude and dismissive to anyone else that deigns to say ‘hello’. New friends, champions and collaborators can come from the unlikeliest of places so keep an open-mind about meeting people you haven’t heard of and aren’t already targeting like a heat-seeking missile.
Dominic Carver has done a great blog post ‘Ultimate Guide’ to the London Screenwriters’ Festival and I’ll be doing a session there on Surviving Development. If you haven’t bought a ticket yet you can get £22 off the ticket price by using Discount Code ‘SCRIPTANGEL2012’. Make sure you come and say ‘hi’ on the day.
The London Screenwriters’ Festival is a fantastic networking opportunity but there are plenty of others worth looking into. Check out my Events Diary covering the UK and USA events for screenwriters.