Actually, let me rephrase that. Networking as anything: I’m NOT a fan.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to or that I don’t realize the importance of networking. I just don’t care for it myself.
As writers, we’re not very popular people. There really aren’t so many of us running around that we’re bumping into each other all the time. I honestly believe that I could easily come across maybe fifty people who don’t care for writing before I come across one who does. Even if it isn’t me personally, I imagine the ratio isn’t far from that.
I started hearing the word “networking” used probably in my late 20s. I’m in the Army and I was told that as I advanced in the ranks, promotions would slow down and favorable duty assignments would become more rare , so I had to “network” in order to give myself a chance at what I wanted. Nothing guaranteed, but a chance.
A good chance, they would say. A great chance. Hell, damn near guaranteed.
From that point on, I really didn’t care for networking. Again, I do understand how necessary it is in this day and age, and depending what you’re trying to do, but that doesn’t make me desire it any more.
I’m not anti-social in the least. I’ve been a relatively shy person for just about my entire life. At age 36, it’s probably not even noticeable to others now, but the shyness is still there. I think that has a lot to do with it. I remember that when I was in kindergarten, I wouldn’t talk at all for a while. Throughout most of elementary school, I hated the sound of my voice. When I walk into a crowded room, I’m not that person who is going to be loud and in everyone’s face. I do prefer to blend in from that aspect. I’ve grown a lot as far as public speaking and talking to others, but deep down at times, I’m still that shy little boy who wouldn’t talk in kindergarten.
I want to be careful in saying this because I don’t want to take away from how networking may have helped any of you reading this. Networking opens doors; no question about that, and there’s nothing wrong with walking through those doors when they’re opened for you. Most people who are highly successful or successful in any way don’t get there without at least some level of networking. It doesn’t make you any less of a person to accept that kind of help.
My own stubbornness is the reason I resist networking at times. Yeah, it’s my own fault. I used to feel that networking was the “easy” way out. I was cheating. People were helping me and I didn’t need help. I wanted to get there on my own. I wanted to be able to say that I DID IT MYSELF. I didn’t want to fall into the “It’s not what you know, but who you know” category.
Yeah, I know…but this was what I felt like. And I’ll admit to still feeling that sometimes today.
As an aspiring screenwriter, I think it’s safe to say that it’s nearly impossible to succeed at this without networking. That part, I’ve learned to accept. I’m doing a pretty decent job with it. I’ve been networking quite a bit through social media, mostly because living North Carolina, there aren’t a world of face-to-face networking opportunities here as far as screenwriting is concerned. They exist, yes, but it’s relatively rare and not nearly as much as it would in say, Los Angeles or New York.
These days, with so much being done on social media, one thing that has given me a different view about networking is the fact that I can connect with people that I otherwise would never have been able to without it. My friend and fellow author P.S. Bartlett (she’s on here, too..check her and her books out at http://psbartlett.me. Fantastic author) suggested a few years ago that I start a Twitter account and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve connected with hundreds of other writers, but also others who are connected to screenwriting and could be a big help.
Last month, a gentleman actually found me after I posted an open letter to my favorite actress, ABC-Nashville’s Connie Britton. Ironically, he’s done work as a background actor on several episodes on the show and he happens to be a literary manager who offered his services. I am now one of his clients. I got an idea from a Twitter post from Connie where she may or may not have been joking about a spinoff sitcom with Nashville co-star, Charles Esten. Some may think I was crazy to have done this, but I wrote an entire pilot script that I’m hoping will reach her, whether it goes anywhere after that or not. Once the open letter was posted on here, it automatically posts to my Facebook and Twitter pages. That’s how my manager found me on Twitter. I actually wasn’t even looking and other than likely embarrassing myself by posting directly to Connie Britton’s Twitter page, I really had no clue as to who else I should aim to reach. Very ironic that someone who works on the show just happened to find me on there. Maybe that happened for a reason, but time will tell.
One big reason I sometimes resist networking is because it’s often unclear as to whether or not it will actually lead to anything. I know that people often say, “You never know,” but there is such a thing as networking just for the sake of doing it and it going nowhere. You could be networking to people who aren’t connected, people who aren’t the best option(s) for you, or those who ultimately cannot do much for you. The tough part for me would be knowing if and when these would come into play. I just don’t feel comfortable going up to random people who might be able to help me and pretending to be their friends just for that sake. I’m a very friendly person and I love to make new friends, but in that case, it may be a bit of a different story when it’s more business-related than on a friendship level. I really haven’t done it enough to know for certain.
Then again, I realized something as I typed this. While I’m not a huge fan of networking, I still seem to draw people to me. I’m not loud, flashy or anything like that, but it just seems to happen. I never realized it until now. It’s good that it sort of balances out that way. I’m no expert, but it looks like, at least some of the time, I’m able to networking without trying so incredibly hard at it.
Either I’m just that good or I’ve grown up and realized that as much as I may not care for networking, maybe I do actually need it.
Nah. I’ll just say I’m that good. Maybe if I tell myself that enough, I’ll start to believe it.