Tips and Tricks - Virtual Networking
This is all my personal opinion.
I was a fan of virtual networking even before the pandemic, but Covid has made it the only option for alot of people. With events and conventions cancelled or unavailable to many, the only choice is to pursue virtual options.
What is networking?
Networking is the act of meeting people you dont know. It's that simple. Unfortunately, putting yourself out there and talking to strangers ( especially strangers you admire) can be very difficult.
Good news for everyone out there, networking is a skill. It gets easier over time and all you have to do is practice.
Why is networking important?
Animation, games, and vfx industries are much smaller than they seem. Even over the course of my 10+ years working in tv animation, I continue to work with the same people, or someone only one degree of seperation from someone I know. It is a tight knit community, and we all talk to one another.
Because of all those things, making industry connections is the best way to find out about new jobs and opportunities. Artists and producers are the very first people in a studio to usually hear about a job opening, giving you early access to a job even before it is posted. On top of that, if you have a good relationship with those artists and producers, an internal recommendation can put your resume directly infront of the team hiring, saving you from the recruiter screening of portfolios and resumes.
All that sounds great Laura, but how the heck do I network?
15 minute Zoom coffee chats!
(It doesnt have to be zoom, it can be any video calling service. For ease of this discussion, I'm just going to say zoom.)
I love that zoom has normalized virtual meetings. Everyone now works from home and is available on their computers in a way they never were before. This means there are so many more opportunities to find time to have zoom calls.
Steps for reaching out to someone you dont know and setting up a call:
- Find a handful of artists, producers, executives, whatever, whom you look up to or who have a job you are interested in. Find these people on any site, though my favorites are LinkedIn and Artstation.
- Send them a message, or ask to be a connection (and be sure to add a message if you are friending them on a network)
- Simple script you can use and reuse
" Hello! I came across your profile as I was researching (insert studio/job name/project name) and would love to talk with you about what you do! Would you be willing to do a 15 minute zoom chat? I really appreciate you taking the time and either way, its great to meet you!"
Anything similar to this is good. There's no need to write a novel. Keep it short and sweet and to the point.
Things to remember:
1. Dont put any pressure on the person you want to talk to. You should schedule everything and set up the call once they say yes.
2. When you end up talking do not ask for a job. The meeting is about you getting to know them. Learning about them and their experiences. At most you can ask if they have advice for anyone looking to get into a similar role, but the whole point of this is to build a connection before you try to use it.
3. If someone doesn't respond, they are probably busy. Don't take it personally.
4. Do follow-up! The day after, send a thank you. If you feel like you got along, send them another message in a few months. At this point, its more acceptable to ask for a portfolio review or advice.
Keep at it and it will get easier.
Let me know if this was helpful or if there are any questions!