Just under a year ago, Curt and I attended the American Film Market in Santa Monica. We had wall to wall meetings lined up for a project we were producing. We were also assisting Mandalay Vision on its production, "Another Happy Day." At the end each day, we would saddle up to the hotel lobby bar of the Loews. It’s, without fail, our favorite part of the day. A spectator sport of sorts. AFM attracts filmmakers from all over the globe. They spend hours travelling from suite to suite, basically cold call pitching production companies. This is their one shot to lay their souls bare and sell their wares. It’s a humbling experience for the strongest of minds. And, when it’s over, they come to the bar, and share their war stories.
These stories could fill a year’s worth of blog posts. And while many of those stories involve different plot points, there’s a common thread of theme: I wish I knew more people, but I don’t know how to do so.
A few days later, Curt and I fleshed out the idea for Stage 32. We wanted to give all creatives the opportunity to network with like-minded people and people of influence.
Over the last 7 weeks, over 10,000 people from over 80 countries have joined the site and numerous success stories have been realized. We’ll share some of those down the road. But, most important, people are expanding their networks, creating new relationships and opening new avenues for themselves.
Today, I’m happy to have as a guest blogger someone I met through the site: Jeanne Veillette Bowerman. Jeanne has been a true source of inspiration for me – and when you read her bio, you’ll know why. When I think I’m too busy to write, or I can’t get my mind wrapped around the project, I think of everything Jeanne is juggling – not to mention all her success – and I get my ass writing. Further still, Jeanne has introduced me to many of her connections, which has helped to move some projects along. And this is what it’s all about – making new friends, sharing ideas, getting things done. The power of networking at its finest.
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman is the Co-Founder and moderator of the weekly Twitter screenwriters’ chat, Scriptchat, and has a regular Script Magazine column entitled Balls of Steel. A graduate of Cornell University, she’s written several screenplays, including the adaption of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name, with its author, Douglas A. Blackmon, senior national correspondent of The Wall Street Journal. More information can be found on her blog, Ramblings of a Recovering Insecureaholic.
Check out Jeanne's Stage 32 profile.
Taking Your Network Offline
Jeanne Veillette Bowerman
"Collecting" people online is easy, but turning that list of social media usernames into a real-life network takes hard work.
How does one cross over the virtual barrier?
Simple – open your mouth and ask for what you want.
Think about how many people you run across on a given day while on Stage32, Twitter, Google+, or any one social website. For me, it’s thousands upon thousands. How I turn those relationships into real friendships and partnerships is by tweeting or messaging people, asking for an in-person meeting.
Whether it’s NYC, L.A., or an airport bar on my way through a city, if I know I’m traveling somewhere, I ask my online network who’s game to meet.
Why not just keep chatting online?
Because once you’ve shaken someone’s hand, you instantly become "real".
Becoming "real" isn’t simply an excuse to belly up to a bar in a strange city and sling back a few tequila shots. If I’m considering working with someone, or pulling them closer into my world, I need to see the whites of their eyes.
Nothing beats looking someone in the eye and seeing if your Spidey senses tingle.
I may miss a bull slinger who hides behind a profile picture, but there’s no way she’ll hide any jerkitude while I’m staring into her pupils.
You have to know if someone is worthy of your trust if you’re going to collaborate together. Don’t just jump into bed with them because they presented a beautiful online package of themselves. Trust me, anyone can do that. Even Jabba the Hutt can make it appear he’s a twenty-something Fabio if he thought it would serve his purposes.
If I meet someone who doesn’t look anything like their profile picture, I instantly think "what else are they lying about?" It’s not that I care if they are twenty pounds heavier and ten years older, I simply don’t respect the bait and switch approach. Own who you are, what you look like, and how you present yourself.
Being real is far more attractive and trustworthy than being beautiful.
Beyond asking if people want to meet me, I also ask myself, "What can I do in return for them?"
Recently I was in L.A. and had several group meetings with online friends. They weren’t random happenings. I carefully considered who would enjoy meeting whom, and how could I accomplish getting those people together in a room. Every person was deliberately chosen, not for my benefit, but for theirs. I wanted each friend to walk away feeling their life was a bit richer because they had said yes to that meetup.
Warm and fuzzy feelings about an event will lead to warm and fuzzy feelings about you.
That’s also applies to online sites. Introduce people to each other who you think would benefit from the new connection. Ultimately, the goal of any social network site is to help each other. Put the selfishness aside, and bring your generosity to the table.
As I often say, paying it forward will pay you back tenfold.
Bottom-line: It’s easy to trust people when you’re chatting and being polite in the safety of your home with thousands of miles between you. But when you’re contemplating creating a project with a virtual stranger, and take a risk that could affect your career, you really need to know who you’re dealing with.
Now I probably scared you into thinking Hannibal Lecter is on Stage 32. I assure you, he’s not… he’s on Facebook.