Well, here I am again with another blog on another topic.
So often I have seen wasted opportunities where aspiring creatives have misused a first impression and lost whatever creative support they could have received, because of the content in their posts and how they respond to posts.
Remember when you joined Stage 32 and sought your first connection? What drew you to send a connection request to them? How did you find that first connection? What continued to draw your attention to muse, “Yes, that’s a must have connection?
I have been a beaming, proud Stage 32 member since 2011. I found my agent here, I found one of my producers here, and I have learned from here. Boy, have I ever learned! Now, I'm giving back to the Stage 32 community.
When we introduce ourselves to a stranger at a dinner party, a bar or some other social setting, do we commence with a 1,000-word diatribe, thrusting documents in their faces and asking for their Facebook names? I certainly haven't, but I've endured a 1,000+ word intro after accepting a connection request. I just shook my head as I scrolled quickly through it all the way to the bottom. I've also endured a near-endless list of social media hyperlinks to every conceivable site, screaming, "look at me, look at me!".
Configuring Your Profile.
I’m a semi-private person, so I avoid using my own image in both my banner background and my profile image. Instead, I choose to advertise one of my novels, complimented with a quick message about my goal. This has worked exceptionally well for me, as many are drawn to the imagery and the title, as well as to the message.
I have put minimum information in my profile: my name, where I am located and a resume. I choose to advertise my e-mail address in 'company' and display my occupation as 'author' and under 'resume', I post all versions of the copyrighted treatment for my book.
Now, my profile consists of everything anyone needs to know about my self-guided mission - fully encapsulated in stunning imagery, short, meaningful paragraphs and a single point of contact: an e-mail address.
Conducting Effective Searches in Stage 32
We are wonderfully overwhelmed by the amazing resources RB and his team offer members, that can be used effectively, professionally and yes, I’ll say here, to our own advantage. We join to seek out free resources, experts, and professional relationships upon which we can build our networks. Well, once your profile is up to snuff, it continues in earnest with the Stage 32 search engine.
Yes, Stage 32 has an effective, often overlooked, robust search engine. It’s the 'Connect' that is part of the site menu under the search field on all pages (Home, Profile, Lounge, Blog, Connect, Meetups, Jobs, Education, and Happy Writers.)
Wait, isn’t the search field the same as search engine?
No, well yes, but you can use that search bar to find single items. You have to know exactly for what to look.
With the full search engine, you can search by name, location, occupation, or by a combination. For example, you can search for agents in Los Angeles with the name Smith.
How powerful is that? After clicking on 'Connect', choose 'Search all members'.
And that's the 'Connect' menu item? Really?
I found it within minutes of completing my Stage 32 profile and went right to work. I used 'agent' in the 'Occupation' field and 'Los Angeles, California' in the Location field and hundreds of hits came up. Be warned, though. Searching for 'California' only, is not a search for the state of, but rather for the municipality of, as in California MD or California PA, (the Greater Napanee for you fellow Ontarians).
Now, obviously, I would avoid restricting an agent search exclusively for agents named 'Smith', but it just goes to show how you can narrow your results. A good practice is to open your result choices as you select them in a separate browser window and keep your search results intact.
You are joshing me, aren't you?
No, not at all. In fact, it happened to me quite often. I'd be on page one of my search results and researching each hit on another tab. After an hour or so, I was advancing through a page. Once you find a potential connection, do your research right then and there. How successful are they as a screenwriter, for instance? Does their background match other online creative content databases, such as IMDB.com? With whom have they worked on different projects? If you like what you see, click on the connect button.
Initiating the Connection
Before you hit 'Send', you have a chance to put in a brief personalized blurb. I go with the pre-populated intro. It’s short and an intro that is there already, and at this stage, that is what you want, believe me!
Now that you’ve reached out, are others reaching out to you? Well, you stand a much better connection growth rate by getting out what you put in. Make the effort to connect rather than relying on everyone to seek you out. Bear in mind that you can play with your settings to control when you are to be notified and for what. I choose to be notified when I receive a new request and a new message only, but you may want to turn everything on. The 'Settings' icon is the gear wheel at the upper right of the screen.
Once you receive an acceptance, this is your big chance. For me, it is all about the agents in Los Angeles and later, producers. Each agent and producer connection receives a personalized reply via Stage 32 messaging. I would avoid posting to their wall, as that is not an automatic turn-on notification for those who leave their settings to default, but messaging is turned on.
Here is an example of the message I send to members.
“Thank you for accepting my connection request, [First name].
“I am a self-published author seeking [agents/producers, depending on my need at the time] to pursue an adaptation for my second novel, (name of novel) I have a short treatment available as well as a logline.
“Please feel free to contact me should you wish to discuss.
“Jeff E. Gregory
“Author, Ottawa ON, Canada
So, just like that, the new connection has received a personal thank-you with the briefest of details and not an in-your-face rant. Should you receive a reply, you can counter with sending out exactly what has been requested, no more and no less. Many agents hang out here for the specific purpose of finding clients, and you are initiating contact, so it’s a win-win. Producers are also on the hunt for new projects.
The Silent Shout-Out
Okay, a word about the Lounge. The Lounge is a wonderful place to seek out advice, or give it, as the case may be. I personally avoid postings such as, "any agents out there? I'm looking for one". That shows to me, the effort level is quite low. Here's a much better approach, if you're shy when it comes to introductions and prefer a viewing crowd: 'introduce yourself' is just that, a forum in the Lounge for you to say a few words about... you! So how about this then, "Hi, I'm Jeff and I've been searching for an agent for a few months now and could really use some help with my approach. Let's connect and get the learning started!"
All sorts of subject matter experts are constantly pouring over “Introduce Yourself” seeking to help those newbies that are reaching out in a new forum, perhaps with a project that requires just that little bit of missing info to turn their fortunes around. You may hold the key to their success, or you may be minutes away from hearing from one of them. And 'Introduce Yourself' isn’t the only lounge forum.
Have writer’s block? Turn to 'Authoring and Playwriting'. Looking for production help? How about, 'Development'. These are just some of the topics up for discussion, all in the Lounge. I know an individual, who is a member, seeking to give advice in different areas. There’s a reason he's at Starbuck’s every day beside an empty chair waiting to be occupied.
So, I hope I have enlightened you to at least some degree about the benefits of marketing yourself for absolutely no money down and that by explaining just a few of the tools, you can discover ways you can propel yourself into the spotlight. A splash of color, perhaps a stunning sunset with the title, 'Miracle Lake', and a few words of mystery is what’s lacking to hook someone to come in for a closer look.
About Jeff E. Gregory:
Mr. Gregory has five self-published titles of thriller fiction and is actively writing more. His writing journey began as a bizarre set of circumstances that evolved into the greatest adventure of his lifetime.
Married 28 years and counting and one daughter later, Gregory still resides in his hometown of Ottawa, Canada’s capital.
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