Work and Play
Back in my college days, I remember my professors saying how difficult it was to ‘break in’ to the entertainment world. They told us stories of what a vicious, soul-sucking industry it is; that networking was a purely selfish activity with vacuous people looking to stab you in the back and step over your fallen corpse if that meant a possible promotion.
Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but that hasn’t been my experience. I have found that in work (as in life) you attract what you expect, and you have to teach people how to treat you.
I expect to be treated with a basic level of human respect, and I pay that same level of respect to everyone that I work with. And even though the film and television industry is very different than most, in that there is no clearly marked out job path to follow to attain your personal goal (being an actor or producer, etc), I have found that work ethic is a universal value.
My first job out of college, was through a referral from an HR rep that I met during a college internship. And since that time, almost every interview or job I’ve had has been the result of a referral from someone else that I’ve worked with. Even now, both the ‘day jobs’ I have while pursuing my acting career, including writing this blog for Blu Fable, came from networking mixed social circles from people I knew in college.
We all ‘know’ how important networking and referrals are, but with the explosion of social media and web based job postings - I think there is a false sense of open availability in the market, that doesn’t really exist. Many of us have lost connection to the reality of how important developing and maintaining interpersonal skills and ‘real life’ relationships still is in our society. We put so much time and energy into improving technical proficiencies, but how often do we practice intentionally investing in people outside our everyday circles to help improve relationship building? One might feel connected to a friend over Facebook or LinkedIn, but how many of your ‘friends’ would actually come over and help you pack up boxes if you were moving?
Personally, I strive to instill value and purpose into every conversation that I experience. Because I don’t like feeling ‘used’ as just a connection, a means to an end, I never want anyone I know to feel that my interaction with him/her is based on anything other than a genuine interest in who he/she is as a unique individual.
As I learn more about myself and other people, different ways of communicating, I’ve found a different way of looking at the networking process. Instead of trying to separate my social and business circles, I have come to understand that every genuine friend that I make also expands my professional network. An added bonus. Even if that person is not in the same field. That person is a potential connection for someone else that I know. And as long as my focus is treating people with honor and respect, regardless of circumstances, I don’t have to worry about my intentions being misunderstood.
Next week, I’m going to have lunch with that old college acquaintance that I haven’t talked to in years. Because, why not?! At the very least, I will get to hear about what he’s been up to the last 8 years... and there’s always the possibility that there may be a professional opportunity for us to work together. And who doesn’t want to work with friends?