There’ve been several previous posts here regarding the benefits and necessity of networking. It can’t be stressed enough how incredibly helpful and effective it can be, especially if you’re not in Los Angeles or somewhere you don’t have a lot of in-person access to other writers.
But it’s not enough to just make a connection. An effort needs to be made by at least one of you (most likely you) to maintain that connection and keep it healthy. And it’s not as hard as you might think.
While it can be extremely easy and tempting to get sucked into the never-ending rabbit hole of the internet, designate a portion of your non-writing time to be just as productive and try to get some networking stuff done.
Are you connected to another writer in your area, but you’ve never actually met in person? Ask them if they’re up for a get-to-know-you coffee or lunch chat.
If you’re limited to online communication, send them an email or tweet asking how they’re doing, and how their latest projects are coming along. Be helpful, or at least offer to help. They might just take you up on it.
*Important – if it’s been a while since you’ve been in touch, don’t start things off by straight-out asking for something. Would you want someone to do that to you? Didn’t think so.
If something good (career or otherwise) has happened for them, send a note of congratulations. Likewise, if something not-so-good has happened, express your sympathies accordingly.
Cliched as it may sound, keeping the lines of communication open really can help you out. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have established strong relationships with several local writers and filmmakers, and exchanged notes with writers scattered across the globe.
I reconnected with a consultant I hadn’t been in touch with for several months, and that conversation led to them offering up coverage (which I still paid for) that proved to be quite helpful.
A writer I know who works in TV and film emailed me, wanting to discuss her latest concept because she thought I was a good match for it.
None of these would have happened if I hadn’t taken the time to keep each relationship going. Rather than taking a “how can you help me?” approach, I go in with the mindset of “maybe I can help you?”
One of the things you hear so often when it comes to establishing a screenwriting career is “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. I’ve found both parts to be true. You definitely have to know what you’re doing in terms of craft and writing ability, but it’s equally important to establish and maintain solid, professional relationships with as many people as you can.
Because you never know who’s going to suddenly be a person of influence willing to help you out because you did the same for them.
So here’s your voluntary assignment:
1. Contact five of your connections.
2. Ask them how things are going.
3. Take it from there.