Tips for creatives and filmmakers in all roles of production
Building and maintaining a network is important in any field, but it’s crucial in the gig-based film and television industry. One of the best ways to network, of course, is through working — people want to hire, refer and collaborate with people they know and trust. (In fact, that’s why we created our signature program, Women’s Weekend Film Challenge; it’s a way to get on set and “in the trenches” with tons of like-minded women and non-binary filmmakers.)
But when you’re in between jobs, it’s important to actively grow your network and keep up with the connections you already have. That’s where networking events come in. Every attendee at an industry mixer is there because they want to meet new people, so you’ll be in good company.
Read on for some tips, then sign up for a networking event. (Moonshot Initiative holds virtual mixers, open to filmmakers around the world, as well as in-person events in NYC and LA, but you should be able to find events no matter where you’re located!)
SIGN UP: Moonshot’s next in-person networking event is our Galentine's Day wine and chocolate tasting at Penthouse 45 in NYC on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024! Register here.
Choose the right event. Some mixers have a specific focus (such as events for those in post-production, mixers for alums of a certain college, or events for a minority group). If you’re hoping to meet a composer, for example, you’re more likely to run into one at a general filmmaker mixer than at an event focused on film directors. You’ll also notice that the vibe of networking events differs from organization to organization. Check out a few events, and see where you’re comfortable! At Moonshot, we pride ourselves on the number of attendees who tell us that everyone at our mixers is open and approachable.
Come prepared. Bring physical business cards if you have them, or create a digital business card that lets people add your info to their contact list by scanning a QR code. Come with a pen so that you can jot notes down on business cards you gather, either as a way to remember what you talked about or to remember how you planned to follow up. If you’re going to a virtual networking event, be prepared to share your email address, as well as your website and/or social media handles, if you like to connect in those ways.
Make an effort to remember names. This one is tough for a lot of people! Most networking events offer nametags, and Zoom events display attendees’ names. But many times, when we hear a name, we don’t really absorb it, and it’s awkward to ask again later. Take a beat to really focus on the people you’re meeting when you introduce yourself.
Get to know people as people. Yes, you’ll want to talk about your job and learn about others’ careers. But if you really want to connect, make sure to also get to know the people you meet as people. Maybe they live in your old neighborhood, and you can trade restaurant recs. Perhaps you discover that they’re a bookworm like you are. Maybe when you compliment their shoes, you’ll find that you both have a penchant for browsing vintage stores. At Moonshot virtual networking events, we often ask people to discuss films and TV shows, specifically for this reason — we all love to bond over what we’re binge-watching!
Follow up. If you want to cement your new connection, follow up with a quick email the next day. Don’t wait too long, or it’ll get awkward! This is a great time to send over the website of a cinematographer you recommended for their upcoming short film shoot, to drop a link to that New York Times article you discussed, or to share the name of the film you thought they’d love but couldn’t remember in the moment.
Go back to the events you like whenever you can! Relationships aren’t built in one quick conversation; they’re developed over time. If you keep going back to the same organization’s mixers, you’ll see the same faces — and that’s a good thing! Get to know people month after month, and you’ll be top of mind if an opportunity arises that’s perfect for you.
Remember, if you're based in NYC, you're invited to our upcoming Galentine's Day mixer at the beautiful Penthouse 45 in Midtown on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024! Taste wine and chocolates while meeting like-minded filmmakers and enjoying skyline views. We can't wait to see you there!