Don't Snooze, Schmooze
By Charlene McCallum
Laughter can be heard from the foyer. You walk into a warm, crowded room of people and everyone’s mingling and sipping martinis. Suzy waves to you from across the room, Chris yells out “Hey, nice to see you,” and your agent gives you a wink. This is what you want to happen because you’re that go to person.
Sitting in your room, a diploma in one hand and a resume in another will only get you so far. If you want to make it in this business schmoozing is key.
You are your best weapon. Creativity, imagination and confidence topped with a positive vision of yourself can help you launch your career.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve never got your feet wet, you need to know that you’re talented and gifted,” says renowned motivational speaker Cathleen Fillmore. “You need to have confidence because (your) other (asset) is just your resume.”
Get yourself out there, meet people and follow-up. Start a conversation and listen to people’s responses.
You need to “be less concerned with yourself and more concerned with what you have to say,” says Judith Campbell, vice-president of Canadian Women in Communication.
Her organization is dedicated to advancing women in the communication business.
“Too often we get so self-conscious about ourselves that we interfere in our own process.”
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Don’t just show up on set and be pushy.
Jason Knight, assistant casting director for Toronto-based director John Buchan, says networking is “a tricky thing as Canadians because we’re less comfortable with the hard sell than they might be south of the border. We’re not as good at shameless self-promotion.”
“Showing up unannounced on casting directors is frowned on. They don’t like to be surprised like that. It’s better to make contact with assistants and speak to them a bit. You won’t risk alienating the casting director if you’ve cleared it with someone else.”
The more people you know the better. Each contact is a venture waiting to happen.
“You’ve got to do it all,” says Andrew Powell, editor of The Gate, a mixed entertainment website. “E-mail has been a huge source of my contacts.”
“You can go on the web and find contacts anywhere but it’s only a beginning. You have to find ways to go out and meet people.”
The best time to schmooze is at night when people are more social.
“The parties or any event are more for talking to people. You get them to contact you or you contact them later, and that’s when you talk business,” he says.
Good schmoozing these days requires face-to-face contact, e-mailing and phone conversations. To be a successful schmoozer you need to know something about the other person, the work they do and what you want to do.
“Being charming but ignorant will only get you so far. Knowing a whack load but not knowing who to share it with will only get you so far. You have to figure out where the two places meet,” Campbell says.
Students graduating with a degree or diploma in film, production, directing or acting should make those crucial contacts while they’re in school because once you’re out, you’ve got to hit the floor running.