We’ve all been there. Standing alone, half drunk drink in hand, with a tangled mess of other people’s business cards in our purse rubbing against our depleting supply at some rooftop networking party somewhere in Tinseltown. The next day when sorting (or tossing) a majority of the “hi-lets-collaborate-or-stay-in-touch-or-something” cards, while cross-checking them with IMDB, you wonder, “Why?” You know half the people across town, whom you gave your business cards to, are probably doing the same thing too. Did you truly gain anything other than a stack of recycling material and a hefty bar bill for your overpriced drinks? What was it all for?
If you find yourself repeating these post-networking nagging questions, stop going.
Seriously. Just stop. You’re adding more busyness to your life. It’s draining your bank account and costing you your most valuable asset, your time. You have so many other, better things to be working on, like writing your screenplay, composing your podcast intro, producing your Youtube channel video, or organizing the people you already know to work with on a project.
However, if you really feel the deep seeded gut call to expand your circle of influence, to grow your network, or to promote your latest venture/screenplay/movie/song (circle one), by all means go! Go with gusto and fervor! Go with sparkle and splash! Here’s how to do it.
Nix your expectations.
Odds are you probably won’t bump into Sorkin or get a meeting with Weinstein from mingling at a mixer. When you go on the hunt looking for the big fish, you probably will run into everything but the big guys (and gals). Also, you may miss some awesome people along the way, because you’re too focused on catching a whale. It gives you tunnel vision and makes you lose sight of where you are in the present moment.
Expectations are like the perfume to cover up the reeking scent of desperation. When expectations are not met, they’ll leave you trapped in post schmooze circus contrition. Cut them out and you’ll be a lot happier in the present moment.
Step out in faith.
Trust that you are at this event for a reason. Trust that you will meet who you need to meet, whomever he or she may be. Whether you believe in God, Buddha, Vishnu, the Universe, a Source, something, take a moment to say a prayer or silent meditation to focus your focus, and open you up to meeting the right people to help, encourage, inspire, grow, or even challenge you.
Be clear on your WHY.
In Simon Sinek’s stellar business bible, Start with Why, he writes…
When entering into the networking arena, know why you’re going. Have a clear purpose. Your purpose doesn’t have to meet the next Spielberg. It can simply be that you want to hang with some likeminded creatives. That’s totally cool! Be honest with yourself.
If your purpose is to pimp out your latest project, start with WHY there too. Why were you involved with it? Why do you beam with excitement when you talk about it? Why did you even get into the business to begin with? Delve into your why and you’ll automatically attract the right people around you.
You never know who you may meet…
Back in 2012, I did this when I was on my way to a networking event in Westwood. My purpose was to promote and celebrate my first feature as a screenwriter getting distributed by Lionsgate. I found out that the post-sound mixer for my film was going to be there too. My second purpose was to meet him and cheers over a couple margaritas to the success of our film. Easy peasy. My girlfriend ditched me an hour before the shindig, so I was flying solo for the evening and didn’t expect to stay long.
On the way there, I said a little prayer. I not only prayed that I would meet the right people at this event, I also prayed for a change in my personal life. I prayed to be single, to get to know myself better, to understand love in all its’ forms, to travel and be able to write about exploration, new cultures, and new places. I’d already had two years to get real clear on why I wrote a motocross movie. (I wanted to experience and research a totally foreign culture, different from my suburban pageant-princess upbringing.) I rolled up all that WHY and excitedly brought it to meet new people and learn about their lives at this event.
That night, I fulfilled my purpose. I pimped out my film. I clinked glasses with my film’s post-sound mixer. However, my expectations for an early eve were nixed when I met a really funny, talented voice actor. We started chatting and ended up talking so late that my car got locked in a parking garage and he, like a gentleman, offered to drive me home.
I later ditched my expectations to be single, and ended up marrying the guy. I continue to fulfill my purpose because with him I’ve loved deeper, travelled more, learned more, and grown more than I ever could have on my own. #Success