This past week I had lunch with the creator and executive producer of a reality TV show on E!
Let that sink in for a second. I moved to LA 7 months ago. I knew about 3 people. I had never worked in the industry before. I was an indie filmmaker with one undistributed feature under my belt. And I was from Atlanta.
Now, I have worked on a hit reality show, I have a soon-to-be distributed indie feature, and a ton of contacts in all levels of the industry.
That’s why you should move to Hollywood. This is where the people are at that you should know when you hear the phrase, “It’s all who you know.”
I’ve been very fortunate to meet some very kind people who have been willing to meet with me and share their experience and knowledge. I’ve been on so many lunch and coffee meetings over the last 7 months that I’ve actually acquired a taste for coffee – okay, so most people don’t consider Starbucks Caramel Macchiato coffee but I’m taking baby steps. (Love that stuff.)
It’s very important to learn from those who are ahead of you. I’ve met with some who are just one step ahead and some that are miles and miles ahead of me. But they’re all heading in the same direction as I want to go.
It is very ignorant to head toward a destination without reading a map. And that’s what these meetings are about – how does one navigate the road to success in Hollywood as a writer, director, producer, etc…
If you have a goal in whatever field you are in and you haven’t talked to anyone who is actually doing what you want to be doing, how can you expect to get there? How do you even know you’ll enjoy doing that once you get there?
Find someone who is on the road ahead of you and ask them to grab coffee or lunch. Heck, if they’re a long way ahead of you, they’ll probably buy your lunch just because they feel sorry for you or because they like the ego-boost you gave them by making them feel important.
It might be difficult at first to find someone to meet with so get creative. This is networking. Meet one person. Ask them who they could recommend you meet with. As long as you aren’t annoying or obnoxious, they should be cool with passing you along to a friend or colleague. Think of it as multi-level marketing. Every time you meet someone new, your network has expanded exponentially.
Now, once you’ve got the lunch or coffee scheduled, brush up on these tips from Dale Carnegie. They are found in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
Six Ways to Make People Like You
1) Become genuinely interested in other people
3) Say people’s names (sweetest and most important sound they will hear)
4) Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5) Talk in terms of the other person’s interests
6) Make the other person feel important – And do it sincerely
The biggest key is BE HUMBLE! You know way less than you think you do! If your goal in these meetings is to impress the person, they’ll sniff you out. Relax, be yourself, and DON’T pretend you’re a big shot if you aren’t a big shot. But as always, be confident in yourself. You can be humble AND confident – it’s tricky – but you can do it.
As a result of of letting these people talk about themselves and showing a genuine interest in them, I’ve had several of them offer to read our scripts and some even offer to show them to their agents. I didn’t even have to ask.
So, who do you know that you could go grab coffee with and pick their brain about the industry you want to get into? All you have to do is ask. 9 times out of 10, they’ll say yes. Because it’s only coffee, right?