Effective Networking Strategies

Posted on: Mar 16, 2023

A group of diverse film and tv production professionals at a networking event.Photo Credit: Photo credit: SolStock / iStock

By B.P. Edwards

Filmmaking is a team sport! But how do I get on the team? Here’s the secret: Your network is your net worth!

A huge part of developing and advancing in the world of filmmaking is expanding and leveraging your networks, both upwardly and laterally. Here are some of the best tricks and tips I’ve learned over the years to make meaningful connections that will put your name in rooms you may never even enter.

Perfect your elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a brief (30-45 second) overview of you and your intentions in your career. When communicated correctly, an elevator pitch is an excellent and effective way of introducing yourself to a potential client or business partner. If you don’t have an elevator pitch, ask yourself the four W’s:

  1. Who are you? Start with the basics! Your name and what position you fill (or want to fill) in filmmaking.
  2. Where are you? The city/state you’re located in. You may find that someone lives in the same city or has a special connection to your hometown.
  3. Where are you going? What direction is your career going in? You may be working in narrative and commercial filmmaking. Maybe you’re a music video person. Think about jobs you’re currently taking or the jobs you’re most confident about sharing your work in.
  4. Why are you here? What are your intentions in this space? What is it that you are looking to walk away with from this interaction? Be as direct as possible in why you are engaging with this person or situation so that listeners know what to approach you with.

Example of an elevator pitch

My elevator pitch sounds something like this:

What’s going on?! My name is B.P. Edwards, I’m a non-union Cinematographer and Camera Operator based out of Pasadena, CA. As a freelancer and through my production company, BEARVISION, I work on feature-length and short-form narrative, commercial, documentary, interview, and live-performance production. I’m currently seeking opportunities in the aforementioned subject matters, and I’d love to connect with you or anyone within your network that may be looking to work with or represent a DP or Cam Op. If this sounds like you, let’s talk!

My pitch is direct, allows me to explain my four W’s to whomever is within earshot, and gives time for listeners to respond with questions, referrals, or suggestions.

Remember, you will receive a good number of rejections or less-than-helpful responses as you’re fielding the networking space. A great elevator pitch will save you time in between searching for those connections. Pitch yourself to as many people as you can, as confidently as you can!

Finding networking opportunities

You’ve practiced your elevator pitch and you’re feeling confident in meeting some new people in the filmmaking community. Now it’s time to put that practice to use. Here are a few spaces that are great to network in:

  • Rental house social events: A rental house will typically host open houses and social events to bring the film community to their doors with the purpose of generating new business and building relationships with producers, directors, and technicians. Attending these events will put you in spaces with filmmakers—both up-and-coming and veterans.
  • On a production set: If you’re currently working on-set for a production, try to introduce yourself to as many people as you can during the lunch hour or on breaks. Often, there are people on-set that are working on, and staffing multiple projects while working on another. You might be a missing link to their upcoming short film!
  • The internet: We are living in the most interconnected time period this world has ever seen! Social media and the internet gives you access to all types of people that work in production. Sending out your pitch via email, a direct message on a social media platform, or even posting a video of yourself giving your elevator pitch will expose you to the world as a ready and willing set of hands.

How to follow up in the industry

So, you’re at the networking event and you made a meaningful connection with a potential business partner with your beautifully concocted elevator pitch. Good job, friend!

But how do you maintain this budding relationship? Here are a few ways to follow up:

  • Exchange information. Millennial and Gen Z-age individuals are more partial to exchanging social media handles (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.), while more seasoned professionals might be more inclined to keep a business card or exchange phone numbers. Be prepared with both, don’t be afraid to ask, and always keep it professional.
  • Say “thank you.” Follow up with your newly found business associate and thank them for their time. Recounting parts of the conversation that you shared together shows that you valued the time you spent together.
  • Invite someone out for a coffee. Meeting together in a public space and treating a potential business partner to a small breakfast is a small token of appreciation and will buy you some additional time to talk about goals.
  • Reach out with availability. It doesn’t hurt to follow up on a connection occasionally. Someone may not need you in the immediate moment when you met them, but reaching out to let a producer know your monthly calendar days that you can take a job may result in you fitting into a last-minute role.

Remember, everyone who is working won’t be on their phones 24/7, and some may not answer your call at all. It’s okay to let a relationship go and focus on others if the communication is not mutual, but always put your best foot forward! That next big job is right around the corner, and it all starts with you.

Good luck out there!

B.P. Edwards worked hard to establish his identity as a Director of Photography.
Photo courtesy of B.P. Edwards.
B.P. Edwards is a Director, Cinematographer and Camera Operator from Pasadena, CA. Since picking up the camera in 2015, he has worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from feature-length and short films to commercials, music videos and documentaries. In 2022, he was inducted into the Society of Camera Operators as an Associate Member and has since continued to hone his talents in working above and below the line. He is a proud graduate of Langston University, and the owner of the production company, BEARVISION.

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