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Networking 101: Conversation Starters

Networking in creative communities is essential for any newbie or aspiring artist. If you’re trying to get into the movie industry it’s of utmost importance. It’s absolutely what you should be doing at any given opportunity. You should be attending screenings, networking mixers, and festivals. You should be talking to people. You should be making friends. You should be attempting to forge connections that will move your career forward. The only problem is that some people aren’t good at talking to people they don’t know. They find it hard to strike up conversations with strangers. Well, we’re going to try and fix that.

Compliment their Attire
Finding an article of clothing that someone is wearing and complementing them on it and then asking them questions about it is a great way to start a conversation. It’s the perfect way to strike up naturalistic conversation introduce yourself and learn more about the other person.

Humor is Paramount
Being able to be funny on your feet will get you far in life. If there’s an opportunity, within good taste, to crack a joke, go for it. It’ll quickly become apparent who the people are that are on your wavelength and who the people are that don’t want to spend time with you.

Talk About Beer
Usually mixers and meet ups happen around alcohol. It will help you if you know a thing or two about beer. If you can chat with someone about what they’re drinking that’s a really nice entry point. From there, same as always, then you can introduce yourself and build on common interests with them.

Don’t Open With “What Do You Do?”
The go-to conversation opener here in Hollywood is “So, what do you do?” What they’re asking is what area of the industry do you fit into. And that usually spirals out into what you’ve accomplished and how you could help the individual in question. It’s just a bad practice. When you’re meeting someone at a social function, leave the actual career talk until later. Focus on the individual not just the accomplishments.

Talk About Something You’re Both Passionate About
After you’ve started the initial interaction be sure to forge a genuine connection by discussing something you both enjoy. If you’re into Star Trek and so are they, boom, friendship made. If you’re having a problem finding that mutual passion consider asking questions like, “If money wasn’t a concern, what would you be doing with your life?” or “What are you most passionate about in life?” are good ways to find out what type of person you’re dealing with. The problem is that most people aren’t used to being asked questions like that so you need to couch them in an interesting way.

Meeting people is easy, building relationships with them is hard. Especially in the bigger cities, people are prone to think others are just trying to get something from them so keep your interaction real and be conscientious and quick to show appreciation when someone you’ve just met refers you to an associate for a gig, etc. Forge genuine connections and maintain them with care.
Stay hopeful and positive, meet people, forge connections, and make great work happen.

Mastering Conversations with Creative Professionals.

Networking: The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Creative Relationships: Muse and Mentor.