How to Network Naturally
I stay for the credits of every film and tv show, because I never know whose name I might recognize. Without fail, I’ll know at least one person, which then gives me a reason to text, email, or call someone I’m not normally in contact with. A few recent examples are:
Get Out – I was thrilled to see my former WME colleague, Shaun Reddick, as an EP for this Oscar-nominated film.
Greatest Showman – I was so happy to see my former neighbor Mike McCusker’s name on the big screen for yet another fantastic film!
This is Us – I always look out for who’s directing, so when I saw George Tillman’s name, I reached out to his lovely wife Marcia to congratulate them both.
The Real Housewives – I’m always delighted to see Doug Ross and Alex Baskin’s names as EPs.
Fences and Mudbound – Both were produced by my former WME colleague, Charles King. MACRO and his name have been in the press a lot this past year, so I’m overjoyed to see yet another friend’s success.
This could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea.
When you work in entertainment, you end up knowing wonderful people who create, finance, and distribute the films and tv shows that you end up loving. Whenever I read on Deadline, THR, or Variety, that someone I know had a show picked up or cancelled, I reach out. (I’m probably more inclined to reach out when I hear of a cancellation because people tend to need more of a hand during a failure than a success.) And if I don’t have that person’s latest contact info, I’ll head to social media, LinkedIn, or my favorite of all: Variety Insight.
When I reach out, it triggers a conversation, a meeting, or sometimes even more …
One of my besties is an EP at Mancave, the hottest show on BET. It’s a late-night talkshow where four guys—Slink, Tank, Kosine, and Jeff—talk about events as seen from the perspective of four black men. It’s kind of like The View, but it’s real talk about relationships, politics, pop culture, etc. To say the show is eye-opening is an understatement. As a woman, I’d never be invited into a room like this, so to be able to drop in every Thursday night at ten-thirty and hear unfiltered guy-talk is a real treat. I laugh my butt off, and I hear a point of view that I would otherwise not be privy to.
Expressing my love of Mancave to a friend resulted in him inviting me to a taping of the show! He introduced me to everyone as “My friend Krista, the Mancave SUPERFAN!” (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen it as one of my stories.) It was so much fun!
I also got to meet some powerful BET executives at the taping, which reminded me of a powerful young woman in my very own MGGJ community: Kandace Brown. Kandace is working at BET as assistant to the VP of Talent Relations. I texted Kandace after the taping, and she subsequently invited me out to dinner—and we caught up for hours!
All networking should be this natural and come from an authentic place. Networking is simply the art of making meaningful, professional relationships. It’s about what you can give, not what you stand to get from a relationship.
Give a generous word, support a new film by buying a ticket, or—in my case today—highlight a favorite new show that your friend worked on and reconnect with a past student!
See, networking isn’t so hard when you’re lead by your interests.