It’s an age-old story. You’ve graduated from college and moved to a new city, ready to start your professional life. You’re short on cash, anxious, and a stranger in a strange town. Of course, you’ve read all the networking advice. You know what you are supposed to do. But how are you supposed to meet successful industry professionals when the average cost of a martini in Los Angeles is $18 bucks?
Here are a few inexpensive ways to network in a new city.
1. Go back to college.
Your alumni association, especially if you graduated from an entertainment-related program, probably has a presence in Los Angeles. And contrary to what you might think, they are usually happy to help you network, find jobs, and pursue your career dreams. Here’s the deal: They know the newbies they help get their start now are the future successful entertainment professionals who will help them place students in internships, hire new grads in entry level positions, speak at alumni events, and maybe even write out a check when they get that fundraising letter in the mail.
2. Join an organization as a junior member.
Just like your college alumni association, organizations want to get you involved when you are starting out so you have established loyalty to them when you are able to provide more support. For instance, you can become a Junior Hollywood Radio and Television Society member for $50 and attend their networking and education events for a whole year. Research professional organizations related to what you do and you might find discounted membership fees and/or added benefits for those who are new to the field.
3. Go on the right night.
Those $18 martini places also want to get you in and hooked on their ambience and social scene. That’s why they do specials on certain nights and certain times. They want you to keep coming back when $18 drinks don’t faze you – and bring your well-healed friends with you. Even swanky Lola’s has drink specials. What else does an underemployed entertainment newbie have to do but become an expert on discount drink specials? Talk about an opportunity to become popular among the up-and-comers.
4. Find a tribe.
Through online research (Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Groups, Meet-Ups) and asking around, find people who are doing what you are interested in. Whether they discuss sci-fi comic books over coffee or shoot digital comedy shorts on weekends, becoming part of a community of like-minded individuals is a great way to get connected in the right way. People who are passionate about what you are passionate about tend to pursue similar career paths. They also tend to be fun friends to hang out with.
5. Take a hike.
In Los Angeles, gyms are not the only place for the fitness-minded to meet and mingle. You may have overheard chatter about “doing Runyon” or “meeting up at Fryman.” Those are canyons with popular trails. There are many of them in the L.A. area and one of the ways people socialize is arranging to meet up for a hike. Absolutely free.
6. Get a dog.
Dog parks are the other free range hotspots you’ll hear about. Whether you meet up with other humans with dogs for doggy play dates or go solo and see who your dog introduces you to, if you are in a situation where you can handle the responsibility and expense, your dog will be a networking wingman sure to yield interesting results.
Non-profits need help. Whether it’s helping out at the local animal rescue fundraiser or becoming a mentor to kids, there are many ways to give back to the community and meet some interesting fellow entertainment pros at the same time.
8. Start s tribe.
If you can’t find exactly the right group to join, start one. A writer’s group, a weekly basketball game, a monthly wine tasting club, or whatever is the exact right fit, creating a community that satisfies your social needs and provides a good outlet for your creativity, your athletic ambition, or some other facet of your life is sure to bring like-minded people to you. Get creative. Why not?
9. Become a resource.
The Black List was started in 2004 by Franklin Leonard, a film development executive looking for good script to read on vacation. Almost immediately, he recognized that he’d tapped into a need and has continued to survey entertainment professionals and compile his annual list of most loved unproduced screenplays. It has made him famous within the industry. How could you fill a need in your niche of the entertainment community?
Remember those drink specials you were researching above? How about sending a weekly e-mail to your growing circle letting them know what new deal you found out about and when you’re going to check the place out so you can all meet up there together? You’re a resource and you’re starting a tribe! For now, just start by circulating this blog post to others looking for networking ideas. They’ll thank you!
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