Why Networking is Useless in the Modern Entertainment Industry

by admin

Five years ago, two costume designers graduated from the same college.

They were very much alike, these two young creative people. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both—as young college graduates are—were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.

Over time they gained similar experience working across the entertainment industry – on concert tours, television shows, and film productions.

Yesterday these two costume designers showed up early for a job interview. But there was a difference.

One of the designers was there to get the job, and competing against 45 other talented applicants.

The other designer was conducting the interview.

What Made The Difference

Have you ever wondered what makes the winning difference with a career in the entertainment industry?

Why are some people stuck hunting for gig after gig, while others get a stream of plum opportunities frequently offered to them?

Everyone knows that having a strong professional network is essential to getting referrals and access in this business. That’s standard.

The key difference is in how that network is built.

The struggling creative professional relies on one-on-one self promotion to build a circle of like minded colleagues. However, the smart creative professional knows that traditional networking is too slow and difficult, so she looks first to build an audience, and the right people flock to her.

The Network vs The Audience

A network is everyone you know who will pick up your phone call.

An audience can be everyone you know, but includes strangers whose names and faces you’ve never seen. In 3rd grade we’re taught to stay away from strangers. In audience building, it’s those random strangers who come of the blue and offer you the best jobs, opportunities, and projects.

A network takes constant contact to keep warm. Drop out of the work circle for a year or two, and you’ll find yourself hustling to get back in the business, as if you’re now a newcomer.

An audience is different. It grows itself as people talk to each other about you.

Networking is hyper-competitive. To win, you need to know more A-listers and gatekeepers than the next guy.

Audience building doesn’t rely on cozying up to anyone special. However, other professionals who have an audience are more likely to work with you when you have an audience of your own.

Build a network, and you’ll have to continue network building for the rest of your career.

However, if you build an audience, the right people will seek you out for years to come.

Are You Building A Network or An Audience?

By now you should be convinced that having an audience of people who listen to you is essential to having lasting success in this over-crowded industry of ours.

The next thing you should understand is that audience building is actually easier than networking. You see, choosing to build an audience rather than networking takes a change of perspective, not some special talent.

What if, next time you hear about a conference, you didn’t just register to attend. What if you pitched yourself as a panelist (or a speaker, if you’re so brave)?

The first benefit is that as a participant, you go to the conference for free, or you’ll even be paid for your time. The second benefit is that you have a chance at building an audience of hundreds of people, rather than settling with networking with a dozen.

Whenever I sit on a panel, I get a river of people approaching me afterwards, hoping to network. It’s a much more effective way to meet great people than the standard networking advice I’ve read in any book.

I’ve only given one speech, but the experience gave me a long term client relationship with a reality show star. No networking needed.

The Best Way To Build An Audience – Do It Online

OK, maybe you’re shy, and even being on a panel makes you nervous.

And maybe joining a professional association to network the old way sounds better to you than starting a committee in that association so you can build an audience.

That’s fine.

You see, the absolute best way to build your own audience is online, through blogging. And blogging doesn’t require you to “come out of your shell” or travel to meet great people. (Hey, we’re connecting through this blog right now, and we don’t even know each other!)

A blog also allows you to build an audience using your best talents. If you’re terrible with words, but great with video, then a video blog is for you. And if you’re one of the costume designers I mentioned above, then a photo blog may the perfect way to present your work.

The Modern Entertainment Career

I see more and more creative people in our business choosing to build an audience for themselves online, and I love it.

People like Mark Malkoff, a former staffer at The Colbert Show used his video blog to land his own direct deals with IKEA and Air Tran.

Baratunde Thurston used his blog to build an audience, and the Science Channel made him the host of his own TV show.

Model Chasity Saunders and television producer Quan Lateef  created their own thriving business using their blog and podcast audience.

My favorite example is Rafi Kam, a web developer in New York who was hired to cover the Sundance Film Festival. His film credits? Just his video blog.

Want Your Own Audience? I’ll Help You

Earlier this year, Chasity and Quan hired me to build their blog for them. At the time, I considered myself retired from offering that type of service, because, to be honest, my prices are too high for most individuals. My focus these days are in serving larger companies.

So, we struck a deal. I would help them, if they allowed me to use their blog as a case study for a course I planned to teach on blogging as a professional in the entertainment industry.

The course would allow me to work with multiple people at one time, showing you how to build an online audience that gets you a huge network, access to events, and job offers.

Best yet, the course would be dramatically less expensive than hiring me for one-on-one work.

Sounds interesting? Then check out the Personal Brand Blogging course that I’m teaching next week. I have a few extras for the first 10 people who sign up, which includes a $100 gift card.