In previous blogs, I’ve written about representation and writing for the market. Now it’s time to write about something that I’ve always been bad at, but is a necessary part of succeeding in business, whether you’re an entrepreneur, artist or construction worker -- and that’s networking. God, do I hate that word. And if you’re an artist, you probably hate it, too.
There are many reasons why artists don’t care for networking. Some associate it with selling out. Some have the belief that artists should be discovered. And then there’s the embarrassment issue. We all know the artist who has very little talent, but is always hawking their work to anyone who’ll listen. No one wants to be that guy. I’m guilty of having these thoughts/feelings, but my main issue has been one of self esteem. I didn’t want to bother people. I didn’t want to ask for favors. And mostly, I didn’t want to be seen as a user. The very idea of networking made me think of Rupert Pupkin, the annoying character from “The King of Comedy.”
Here’s a cautionary tale about what happens when you don’t network. When I was still young, I wrote a screenplay (called “A Clean kill”) that made me many, many fans. Sam Raimi was one (before “Spiderman”). Another was a producer who has since won an Oscar. There were dozens more. But because of the reasons mentioned above, I didn’t develop most of these relationships. Instead, I waited for things to come to me. Big mistake. All these years later, I’m only in touch with one of those industry fans. And guess what? She has really helped me and continues to! But the rest of those people slipped away. My fear of coming across like Rupert Pupkin really hurt me.
Today, I no longer look at networking as bothering someone (well, most of the time). Instead, I see it as offering something that has value - my work. And if you’re talented, people want to help you. It makes them feel good, and it may help them, too. So if you’re an artist and really believe in your work, go for it.