Imagine your shyest friend. The one who talks with you, and not many others. This person is probably really good at what they do – writing, directing, editing - but is terrible at putting themselves out there and meeting new people. Now imagine that friend finally working up the courage to type up a paragraph about themselves and post it for this community to see. Imagine that person discovering other creatives and striking up conversations with them, all because you took the time to lift them up as you sought to elevate your own professional game. Or maybe you’re that friend that could use a networking champion. Not every aspect of the entertainment industry is better with a buddy, but networking surely can be!
As you may recall, our fearless leader, Richard “RB” Botto, issued a phenomenal challenge for last month’s Introduce Yourself Weekend. The steps were clear, the assignment was layered, and the outcome was incredible! Seriously, pour yourself a beverage, pull up a chair, and the whole package feels like a legitimate networking event – no nametag or shoes required! While this challenge was issued once, the steps paint a very clear process for how you could approach every monthly Introduce Yourself Weekend. Be sure to bookmark the challenge as a guide for future events!
Unbeknownst to most, that same weekend, I was attempting something new. A twist on a classic, if you will. I asked myself, ‘what if… someone were to attend this “Online Networking Event” the same way one attends a LIVE networking event: with a friend? A partner in creativity? A WINGPERSON? How would that work? WOULD it work?’ Actually, the more pertinent question is, ‘why seek a networking buddy?’
Here are my top three theories going into our first ever Introduce Your FRIEND Weekend:
1) A Networking Buddy keeps you accountable, just like any other event – you’re more likely to show up and put in the work if you’re making the date with someone else
2) When you have questions, whether technical difficulties or just friendly “check it before you wreck it” once-overs, you can ask each other and keep each other going
3) A Networking Buddy makes the event more fun!
To help me test drive this twist, I invited a couple of new friends, one of whom I met organically while living and working in Los Angeles, the other I met through Stage 32 and have not yet met in person. I mention this because you, too, can invite virtual-only associates to be your wing-person! Why not? If your Skype or Zoom game is strong, go for it! I would recommend someone you’ve been professionally courting for at least a couple of months or at least three coffee dates.
First, you’ll meet my friend Luis Ramón Quintero, a director and screenwriter who recently wrapped on three different writing fellowships - Disney, ABC, and NBC - and is looking for a manager to help maintain his momentum. Second, you’ll get to know my friend Leah Poulliot, a television screenwriter and current writer’s assistant on the CW’s ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’, who is looking for a staff writer opportunity.
On both occasions, we had a little pre-game chat to confirm what each of us wanted to get out of the experience, we assisted each other through the five-step process, and even learned more about each other along the way! Here’s how the “Introduce Your FRIEND Weekend” expands on RB’s original five steps:
1) Jump on a Skype or Zoom call for a Pre-Event Chat – this gives you a chance to catch up, confirm what they are working on, what they’d like to be working on, and who’d they’d like to meet
2) Make a Plan of Approach – a short but sweet transition before diving in: what kind of ice-breakers do you wish to employ? What could you talk about that isn’t business and how could you work that into your “online conversation”?
3) Update Your Profile Photo, Bio, and Media - The “Check It Before You Wreck It” benefit cannot be stressed enough here! Even seasoned professionals appreciate the insight, and it gives you a fantastic confidence boost to boot!
4) Post in the Introduce Yourself Lounge – When you do this, you can also introduce your friend! Try to keep it to three sentences or less as your friend can follow up with a comment to continue the thread. Also, think of how you would introduce someone in real life – how you know them, what they do, what they’ve done recently, or what they’re interested in doing are all great ways for others to relate!
5) Respond to at least 5 other posts – When you do this, you can also introduce your friend! Try to link why you think they’d enjoy meeting your friend to help start their conversation. If you cannot tag your friend with an @ symbol, definitely leave a link to their profile so they can follow up with a direct message.
6) Invite at least 10 people to your network (click that plus!)
7) Pay it forward by inviting at least 5 others to join Stage 32!
8) Pulse Check – Check in with your buddy to see how they think it went! Maybe even get some feedback on how your approach worked (or didn’t) and what you could do next time. ***This could be done a day or two after the event, so that you both have a chance to respond to comments over the duration of the weekend.
So, here’s the next challenge for you, my Stage 32 fam! Grab a friend, carve out an hour or two, and add the extra steps this Introduce Yourself Weekend! For your entertainment and edification, please enjoy this video overview of our first trial of Introduce Your FRIEND Weekend with my friends Luis Ramon Quintero and Leah Poulliot.
Can you see how enlisting the assistance of a trusted ally can turn an event into both a networking deep-dive and a bonding experience? Even if you only meet ten new people, you will at least walk away with a much deeper connection with your networking buddy!
This is still a process in progress, though. What are some strategies that worked for you? I’d love to know who you invited, what your approach was, and what you learned!
Let’s share the love and let others know where they can build the most uplifting and empowering relationships in the business! Take a screenshot of you and your buddy, add the hashtags #IntroduceYourselfWeekend #IntroduceYourFRIENDWeekend #Stage32 and #NetworkingBuddies , then tag @Stage32 @rbwalksintoabar and @k.osswrites on Instagram for epic reposts!
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