Networking

I’ve talked about networking a lot in this blog, but it really is the bread and butter of telly. To quote Sara Putt, TV has a soft skills security blanket: people want to work with other people who are easy to talk to, have good manners, are gracious and conscientious and hardworking.  Employers verify that by asking their colleagues, your references, people who have worked with you before.

As an employer or as a freelancer, your most important asset is your network. This should involve professional relationships at ALL levels. Keep a database of all the people you know, whether they’re people you’ve worked with, people you’d like to work with, or people you’ve met for coffee and advice. You can use your network not just to find new employers, but also to verify new employers – if you’ve just got a job at a new company, you can ask friends who have worked there before what it’s like. Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity – if you have a really good relationship with just a few industry contacts, they’ll work all the harder for you when you need their help.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you want to connect with – most people will be more than happy to help, remember they’ve been in your position before! But don’t jump straight in asking them for a job. Best to invite them for coffee to ask their advice on something – people always like to share their wisdom! Ask them something specific, so that they can focus their answers. I’ve made the mistake of asking too general a question, and that cost me the meeting with the Series Producer I was looking to befriend. And always thank them afterwards – be specific about why they were helpful. Try to get that new contact to suggest another two people that you should connect with – that way you’ll double your network with every coffee!

Try to update your network every three months, or every time you have something new to say. This could be a new credit to your CV, a new skill that you’ve learned, a new short film that you’ve published. That way you stay in your network’s recent memory, rather than buried in a pile of CVs somewhere in the office. Talent Managers often track the availability of their favourite people, so if they regularly see that you’re getting gradually more experienced and more qualified, you may well become one of their favourites too!

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Networking

Bring on the Beeb

Apologies for the recent radio silence, I have been enjoying a long overdue holiday between the end of my contract at Glasshead and my future engagement at the BBC! But now, as I’m feeling restored and ready to re-immerse myself in the world of television production, I would like to share with you my strategies for moving from one contract to the other.

As you know if you’ve been following the blog, in my case it certainly took time and hard graft to build up my experience, my CV credits and my name as a recognisable one in the TV industry. But over that time I have learned certain techniques which, both after and during the build-up of your experience, can help you to find the next job.

First of all, keep a careful record of the contacts you make at networking meetings, in your jobs or through other people. Try to strike up an amicable acquaintance with them. Whether that’s asking for advice, offering them a coffee, or dropping them an update. It keeps your essential TV network aware of who you are and what you’re doing, so that you are at the front of their mind or the tip of their tongue should the need for your skills arise.

So I keep a database both of companies I would like to work for and of personal contacts I have made, colour-coded as to their likelihood of getting me work. Then, when I find myself touting for my next job, I can easily find and remember which people I should contact. In an ideal world, it is best to start putting out feelers two weeks before your current contract ends.

But the advantages of such short term contracts are: huge variety in your work, a lot of experience built up very quickly, and a knack for making new friends. Fortunately, this is the kind of environment I thrive in, and so rather than being fearful of my situation at the end of my six weeks with the BBC, I’m excited. Wherever next?!

Bring on the Beeb