The Truth About the One Thing Writers Hate Doing
Screenwriters typically cringe when hearing that they need to schmooze or network to succeed in Hollywood, Toronto, London, Mumbai or Beijing.
The whole idea of “schmoozing” and “networking” brings up many negative perceptions like falseness, desperation, in authenticity, flakiness, and the list goes on and on.
However, schmoozing has been given a bad rap! The fact is that schmoozing can very simply be being friendly and talkative — but with an intention! Everywhere in life, others tend to like friendly people who smile, so it is in Hollywood with literary agents, managers, talent agents, producers, casting directors, directors, and everyone else.
To begin to develop your schmoozing skills, start by engaging in a friendly, real conversation with the other person. Imagine if you’re a sports fan, and you’re shooting the breeze with someone about the Monday night game or a recent player trade. It’s a way to connect with that other person and build rapport. When they like you, who knows what else you start to talk about.
Whatever topic you schmooze about, be positive and give other people credit. Keep up-to-date on what the box office did that weekend, and then say something positive about it. Never say anything negative when you’re schmoozing because the person you’re speaking with may have a connection to the thing or person you’re talking about. Practice engaging in small talk.
It doesn’t have to be about major, significant events. Learn to be conversational in general. Don’t come right out and ask them to read your script out of the blue, but somewhere along the line, casually make a comment about your story. You might say something like, “Last night I was working on my screenplay and I was trying to figure out such and such, and I thought….blah, blah, blah.” Somehow work it in, but do it very naturally. If you can bring your sense of humor or a sense of lightness to it, that’s even better.
Many screenwriters get so worried about pitching their script that they launch into it when the other person didn’t want to hear it. That makes the other person feel trapped and then they don’t like you.
Don’t do that.
Be charming, friendly, and positive.
Try to naturally work in a comment about your script and get them to ask you what it’s about. Keep in mind that if you don’t get a chance to pitch your script at that point, you may in the future, and you never know how soon that time might be.
As you learn more about networking, you will find that there are ways to create follow-up contact opportunities, so you don’t have to feel like this is your one and only chance. Meanwhile, schmooze away and make a new professional friend.
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