5 Tips To Make Networking Opportunities Valuable

5 Tips To Make Networking Opportunities Valuable

5 Tips To Make Networking Opportunities Valuable

Séverine Tibi
Séverine Tibi
a year ago

Networking is too often associated with adjectives such as uncomfortable, artificial or intimidating. However, there are concrete ways to change your mindset and navigate these situations effectively so it goes back to what it was originally intended for: creating and solidifying meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships, in your industry and beyond.

5 Tips To Make Networking Opportunities Valuable

1) Think About Your Purpose

As a film producer, I have always wanted to work with people from all over the world to make authentic films that different audiences in various countries can engage with. From the beginning, my mission has been to work internationally and to explore the power of co-productions, so collaboration is at the core of everything I do.

It’s by keeping this in mind at all times that I see networking as an opportunity to meet and catch up with people who have similar goals, and I make it enjoyable. It informs the way I approach each event and has enabled me to build effective connections over the years. Sounds very simple, but reminding myself to focus on that helps put me back on track when I tend to forget it!

5 Tips To Make Networking Opportunities Valuable

2) Take your chances

Always be respectful, of course, but don’t limit yourself because you are too nervous or you feel like certain people are out of your league. Think about the reasons why you want to talk to them and how you will spark stimulating conversations instead.

A few years ago, I went to an event where a producer I really admired took part in a panel. There was a lot of self-convincing that had to happen before I mustered the courage to walk up to her, but she ended up being very generous and gracious with her advice. Fast forward to today, we are still very much in touch and even now developing a film together! I realize how lucky I was, as it certainly doesn’t happen like that all the time, but the only way to find out is to try.

I always think of it that way: when will I ever get a similar opportunity again? What would I regret more, something I didn’t do or something that either didn’t go too well or not exactly as I had hoped?

So, go for it, you never know what’s just around the corner for you!

5 Tips To Make Networking Opportunities Valuable

3) Come prepared and open

Ahead of the event, do your homework. Research as much as you can about it, the organizers and the attendees – any information that is available to you will be relevant for your preparation.

Similarly, get ready to introduce yourself, to talk about what you do, what you are looking for and what you are interested in. The way you deliver it will always vary depending on the situation and who is in front of you, but I find it helpful to have a few sentences ready, as well as some conversation starters and questions I can ask.

And as much as you need to come prepared, be open to fortuitous meetings as well. I was once introduced to someone by a friend of mine, just as I was about to put on my coat on and leave. This person is to this day one of my closest collaborators and has had a huge positive impact on my career.

5 Tips To Make Networking Opportunities Valuable

4) Focus on quality over quantity

At the very beginning of my journey in the film industry, I used to measure my networking success by the amount of business cards I had managed to hand out at events. Needless to say, this strategy didn’t lead to much at all.

Instead, I have learnt to focus on getting to know each and every person I have a genuine conversation with. If my interlocutor is asking me a lot of questions, I make sure to keep it balanced and reciprocate instead of doing all the talking. And when the person in front of me is speaking, I listen to what they say. I don’t think about what I am going to tell them next or look around the room to see who just arrived. Remember that sometimes your honest interest in your interlocutor will say more about you than what your words could.

The idea of quality over quantity also extends to the amount of events you go to. Coming from a small town, when I moved to London I was just as amazed as I was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of film events every single week. I have found, however, that it was much better for me to select the ones I thought would be beneficial and truly make the most of them, rather than try to go to all of them (which was impossible anyway) without actually being fully present mentally at any of them, and feeling guilty about it afterwards.

5 Tips To Make Networking Opportunities Valuable

5) Nurture your relationships

Networking is also very much about maintaining your network. You need to keep track and stay in touch with your connections. What I usually do straightaway (so as not to forget anything) is to keep records on who I have met with thorough notes on what I have learnt about them and what is specific to them. I now have a database of contacts with all the information I believe is important and could be helpful for any future correspondence.

I also always email people, sooner rather than later, to let them know I have appreciated meeting them, to thank them for their time and to follow up on any actions we might have discussed together. Using social media (effectively depending on each platform) is a great way to keep in touch too – by posting about what you are up to, you are letting them know indirectly, so they can access it in their own time. Reciprocally, stay updated on what your contacts are doing, and always be on the look out for what you can do for them. Remember than no one achieves anything worthwhile on their own, so it’s not simply about what others can do for you, it’s what you can both do for each other.

You can get what you want from networking as long as it aligns with your perspective, your attitude and the way you go about it. Putting yourself out there can be scary, no matter how experienced you are, but to go forward you have to have a little faith – in you and in others. Don’t let apprehension make you miss out on what can become amazing and fulfilling relationships and experiences!

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About the Author

Séverine Tibi is a French producer who worked in Sponsorship at the British Film Institute before co-founding the Cannes-based production company, Sevana Films, in 2017. She has worked on films in several countries and regularly attends film festivals as a consultant, through talent development prog...

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