Networking With Colleagues During the Pandemic

Networking before the pandemic
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Networking must go on, even during the pandemic.  Yes, I know some days it’s hard to tear ourselves away from Netflix. Film production will start again though, and it’s essential to make an effort to continue networking with our colleagues and contacts right now.

Last week I got an email from a young woman I met at a live event 4 months ago.  She’s putting together a music video for a song she wrote and needed some production advice.  She asked if we could do a Face Time or Zoom chat.  We talked for almost half an hour.  She’s wisely getting all the information she needs and laying the groundwork for her small production, even though it may not happen for weeks or even months.  She’s also doing what we should all be doing during the shutdown, networking and following up with contacts.

Your industry friends and colleagues may be wondering how you are, but they may be just too anxious and stressed to reach out.  It’s a good time for you to be the one to take the initiative, check in with colleagues and encourage others to hang in there during this challenging time.  Our networking efforts need to be a bit more gentle and empathetic now.  This is not the time to send out a generic text or email blast stating that you’re looking for your next job.

Many of us have developed excellent networking skills during our years working in the entertainment industry, especially those of us who freelance.  Let’s not let those skills languish just because we can’t network face to face.

Here are 3 networking tips for keeping in touch with colleagues remotely:

  1. Make full use of social media. Update your profiles, especially on LinkedIn.  Although I believe LinkedIn is vastly underutilized in our industry, I still keep an updated profile and comment on posts to stay active there.  If you use Facebook mainly to post goofy memes, maybe it’s time to make more of an effort to connect to some industry groups there.  There are numerous film industry groups with a presence on Facebook.  Most of the IATSE locals have at least one group for members, if not several.  SAG-AFTRA and the Directors Guild also have active groups for their members.  There are also region-specific Facebook groups, such as AZ Film People.  Comment on what people in your group are posting and post useful information yourself.  If you don’t have an Instagram account, establish a presence there, too.  It’s one more place to connect with your colleagues.
  2. Zoom happy hours are now a thing. Consider hosting one or holding a webinar.  Both my yoga class and my improv group are holding classes on Zoom now, and I participate in a monthly board meeting on Google Hangouts.  It’s a fun, low pressure way to stay connected.  Consider how fortunate we are to have the internet to assist us in our networking efforts.  Twenty-five years ago, we wouldn't have had the same opportunity, as social media didn’t exist, many people barely used email, and most internet service was a slow dial-up connection.
  3. Follow up with people you’ve met at past live events. Is there anyone you met at a previous in-person networking event whom you’d like to connect with?  I really enjoy the face to face contact at live events and miss attending them.  I’m even on an events committee to help organize industry events. The trouble is, I often leave an event with a stack of business cards, but don’t make the time to follow up with people I’d like to add to my contacts.  Now is an ideal time to send some of these people a short email.  Don’t ask for anything, just reintroduce yourself and see how they’re doing in this surreal environment.

This production down time can be an excellent opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and even make some new contacts, if we use it well.  See you on social media.


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