Networking observations from a Creative – Part 1
Why do we engage in social networking? Why do we continue to engage in social networking?
I guess my answer is another question. Is it worth it?
I am a composer, scriptwriter and filmmaker so I’ll be looking at the topic through a creative eye. I think it’s important to make this distinction as some social networking sites have a bias toward buyers and sellers of goods and services that would not be considered creative in any way. Oh, like pork rinds, mints for hotel pillows and musical toilet roll holders to name but a few.
Let me begin at the beginning. A number of years ago, the person who designed my website and business brand strongly suggested I get busy with social networking. Believing then and believing even more so today, I blew a “ social media is not social but anti-social “ raspberry her way. I held out for a few years and then relented to set-up a facebook page and a myspace account. Today, I have two business facebook pages, two business twitter accounts, linkedin, stage 32 and many more.
Yes, I caved under the social media schoolyard bully and relinquished all my lunch money.
So why do I do it and is it worth it?
In my opinion, the purpose of social networking is:
1-to connect with others and cultivate relationships
2-to promote your brand and creative projects you’re involved with
3-to offer help to said connections
You’ll notice that I never said, “ to get work “. I teach part-time at VFS and I always remind my students that connecting and cultivating relationships is way more important than flogging your demo reel around or trying to get rid of all your business cards in one go. Being solicited for a gig at a social occasion or on a networking site is way offside and an immediate yellow card. If, on the other hand, you make an effort to genuinely get to know me and you stay in touch – then I ‘m more apt to voluntarily set something up for you. Something I enjoy doing and have done many times.
So if you just want to social network to get work and make money, well good for you! Good for you, you greedy callous bastard sitting all by yourself on Saturday night, counting your mounds of filthy money and watching Housewives of Vancouver with your Mum! ( can you tell I’ve been reading John Cleese’s auto biography? )
So, back to 1,2,3.
Case Study #1 Stage 32
Just before the end of the year I embarked on a social networking experiment. I decided to re-connect with all the Directors and Producers that were already connections on Stage 32. This site is exclusively for creative’s in film and theatre and therefore you would think – right up my alley.
Now after my Monty Pythonesque rant about cold calling and connecting, let me make things perfectly clear. I did not mass email my contacts but sent them a personalized email asking them a specific question about a project they worked on or something new. Here’s an example:
Hope all is well with you.
I’m embarking on a quest to utilize stage 32 more often as the networking site it was designed for and to keep in touch with those creative’s, like you, who have kindly connected with me.
I see you’re creating the earth in 7 days, how’s it going?
Now I ask you, who doesn’t like to be asked about a current project? Doesn’t it feel great? And doesn’t it make you glad that you took the time to sign up to the site and create a profile? Yes! Yes! And Yes!
So believe it or not, I sent a personalized email to 58 connections. Of that 58 only 15 replied making my success rate a whopping 8.7%. Of course, I don’t expect 58 people to reply to my invitation to re-connect. I’m sure some of them have very good excuses – stranded on Mt. Everest, hands cut off in horrible tennis accident, rather rough alien probing and so on. But to the 43 people who didn’t respond, I say this, “ what the hell are you doing on Stage 32? “ It’s not POF, I’m not going to ask you how recent your photos are or send you pictures of me, shirtless, in front of my monster truck showing off my skull tattoo. It’s a social networking site! Key word – Social! I’ve done all the work for you – you just have to respond and tell me about what you’re working on. Aren’t you excited about what you’re working on or doing? Don’t you think I might be able to help you with advice or connections or something else?
And for the 15 people who did respond and who, I might add, responded excitedly – thank you. We all had a jolly good chat and a catch up and I felt very inspired learning about what everyone was up to.
In no way am I slagging Stage 32. I quite like the site and have made some great connections and gone to some of the Vancouver meet-ups. And as I mentioned, it’s geared toward film and theatre. It also has a great forum which they call the lounge where you can ask for advice or post a relevant online article on just about anything in the film making process. I’ve used it many times and found it quite helpful. Unfortunately, there are a few people on the site who use the lounge as a tool for embellishing the size of their dicks, hijacking someone’s posting of a legitimate question and veering off topic just to say, “ look at me. Mum, Mum look at me – aren’t I clever? “
-end of part one. Please turn tape over for part 2 and press play. –