I recently went to L.A. to attend the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (www.asianfilmfestla.org) where our film, “Counter Measure” was screening. As is the custom with film fests, they have multiple events and mixers specifically designed to get you to meet people. Yes, it’s that thing we all dread:
Every night they had some sort of amazing party, and every night I found myself cowering in my safe corner so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. Actually, truth be told, my safe corner was not even at the festival—it was at home with my wife watching “Game of Thrones.”
Yes, go ahead and laugh, but deep down many of you feel the same way. In fact, I’d bet that if you were also in this festival, you’d be sitting on the couch next to me with a big bowl of ice cream.
A lot of people talk about how they don’t love these meet-and-greets, yet every time I go, I see groups of beautiful people laughing and hugging each other, and looking like they are having the time of their lives. I watch them and marvel at how they found so many friends before the end of the first day of the fest.
Did they bring all these people with them? Are they so important that one has to be on the “inside” to know who they are? Are they just so charming that people are drawn to their awesomesauce when they enter a room? It’s like I’m an extra on the set of a TV sitcom and when they enter, the audience cheers because the star has just arrived.
It has long been known that business success depends largely on whom you know, and if you have the artist temperament like I do, you dread the whole notion of networking. So, how does one cope? I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not an expert in this, but I have actually figured out a way to take the sting out. And here’s the key:
Don’t use the “N” Word.
I think that the word “networking” is extremely intimidating, and truth be told, it is a selfish word too. If you are going to an event to meet people that can further your career, then you will be looking at everyone wondering what they can do for you. People can sense that, and it’s a little creepy.
Instead, use this idiom as your mantra:
Don’t go to events trying to find a network of people who can help you; go in search of friends. I have tried this, and believe it or not, I have actually found myself having fun. In fact, on this last trip I ended up meeting a really cool VFX artist named Jonathan Ng, who made an awesome short called “Requiem for Romance.” www.jonjonphenomenon.com. He was a cool guy and is probably someone I’ll work with someday. I also met a kick butt publicist at www.qle-pr.com, an entertainment attorney, a couple musicians, a few just really nice people, and a big star from the Philippines.
So, ask yourself this: Who will your new friends be?