SCREAM  Don’t Answer The Phone
By, Jessica Sitomer

Why after all of the horror films ever made, does the damsel in distress still pick up the phone to discover the killer is in the house. I mean, what was Drew Barrymore doing talking on the phone to a psycho killer in a movie where a serial killer is stalking teens just like in “the movies?” It happens every time you watch a horror movie. You wonder, why do the teens go out in the woods alone when they know there’s a murderer in the woods?

That’s kind of how I feel when I go to networking events and watch entertainment industry professionals who are looking for work. Do you make these 5 key mistakes when you’re networking?

1.    A babysitter in a nightgown answering a phone when the killer is in the house, is the equivalent of you asking someone you just met for work. It’s a big no-no. They don’t know you well enough to trust you. Instead, build the relationship and discuss your work so they are interested in maintaining a relationship with you, and should they need someone at that moment, they may offer it to you. If you say, “I’m available” after a great conversation, you just put up a 15 foot wall between the two of you.

2.    Teenagers making out in a car in the woods where a known killer is on the loose, is the equivalent of you being pushy with a speaker after a Q&A. It makes me cringe when I watch someone push their script or reel on someone who is clearly saying they can’t accept it. DO NOT CORNER THE SPEAKER! Instead, ask him/her a relevant question based on the panel or screening, and then follow up with a note reminding him/her that you were the person who asked (insert your question).

3.    The young sexy girl, who sits in a room where she was told to wait by her boyfriend, who is clearly being tortured to death in the next room, is the equivalent of you going to a networking event and not meeting people. I’ve seen you walking around, looking for people you know, seeing someone you’d like to speak to, but second guessing yourself and going back to a seat by yourself. Instead, commit to a number of people you WILL introduce yourself to, and push yourself out of your comfort zone to do it.

4.    The young skinny dippers in the haunted camp lake; they are as about as doomed as you are, if you get hammered at a networking event and make a big fool of yourself. This may work for A-List celebrities, but it is a no-no for you. Social drinking is one thing, getting inebriated to overcome your nerves and then doing things that are out of character for you is a bad choice. Instead, have objectives for the networking event or party, be professional and use my tools to calm your nerves instead of the bar.

5.    The woman who waves down the truck, blaring creepy banjo music, because her car broke down, is the equivalent of you trying to network with the wrong people. It is a waste of your time to go blindly into a networking situation and just “hope” to meet the right people. Instead, research the speakers, guests, or panelists if possible. If not, have a specific classification of people you want to meet. For example, plan to meet 2 directors and 3 producers. This way, if you get stuck talking to a Hollywood real estate agent (insert creepy banjo music here), you can politely excuse yourself knowing you have not yet met the people you came to meet.

And Action!

1. If networking is challenging for you, find a partner to attend the events with you.

2.  Do your research before an event.

3.  Create goals for the event and don’t leave until you’ve reached them or exhausted every option.

Networking events don’t have to be horrific. Be prepared and the nerves will dissipate.