Last April, I finished my first TV gig in NYC. I was happy to work on what I studied. Plus, it’s quite gratifying when you see your name on TV.
Unfortunately, a few months of “funemployment” followed. I started to lose hope and thought I’d never work on another production. I applied to a barista job; I took on more babysitting hours; I reconsidered going back to school—you know, the normal existential crisis a post-grad has.
And then, just when I was about to give up, an email with an exciting opportunity appeared. That’s when I realized all my networking tactics were working. I could breathe easy again.
Networking is critical to landing a job. This is especially true if you’re a freelancer, like me, who’s just starting out. However, even if you currently work 9 to 5, building your network will open up future opportunities—and you never know when you’ll need one.
You can improve your networking in many different ways, but here are three tactics that work for me.
1. Set An Email Schedule
Once you start building your network, you’ll want to keep its members in the loop on what’s going in your career. You never know who’s looking for a candidate like you.
An easy way to do this is to email regularly. I set up a calendar specifically for networking emails; it’s been God’s gift to finding freelance jobs. Honestly, I should consider a career drafting emails, because that’s what I seem to spend my days doing.
Some people, like old professors and old internship bosses, I email once a month. People I worked with, or I want to work with, I email every 2 weeks. It may not seem like much, but a simple, “Hello, how’s it going?” can make a difference. I like to end with a funny closing remark too, to get their attention. Just remember to follow up when they answer and get a conversation started.
2. Be Prepared … Always
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s important to keep your portfolio up to date with your antics. When you get a chance, you have to look sharp online and charm in person.
In line with this, I finally got around to designing business cards to hand out when I meet someone from the industry. This is an inexpensive way to look professional and make your mark. Just make sure you actually keep the cards on you. The other day, I met someone who works on a British TV series while walking home; I wished I’d had my cards ready to give. Life is unexpected like that.
When you’re looking for a gig, you always have to be prepared to make an impression. Make sure it’s the right one.
3. Despite It All, Remain Positive
OK, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic in saying that I almost gave up. However, I was starting to lose the little hope I had. And then … BOOM. An opportunity.
You have to remain positive to reach your goals. To be the right candidate, you have to think you are the right candidate. Be thankful for the interviews you get, as well as the ones you don’t. Try to use them each as a learning opportunity.
It’s all part of the process. Don’t get discouraged and skip parts of it, like sending thank you notes after an interview—even a bad one. Leave them with a good impression of you. That way, the next time they have an opening, they’ll consider you before you consider them.
How do you stay in touch with your old job opportunities? Let us know in the comments!