Networking events are often the bane of my life.
In comedy and entertainments, it’s usually a bunch of people in a room that already know who to talk to and who to avoid. That comic who was ‘the next big thing’ but died a comedy death on his first comedy pilot? He reeks of desperation, disappointment and usually disillusion, no one wants to touch him now, they tried- he failed, yet he is tugging on the sleeve of the comedy commissioner and you can feel the awful drip of shame as you also avoid him, just in case that dose of failure is somehow more infectious than herpes. Networking is just another excuse for people to drink cheap wine and bray about the successful shows and the up and coming comics who they represent.
My own idea of networking is NOT attending these events; especially the ones called ‘A Forum’ where you pay hundreds of pounds to listen to tips from some of the industries top players and pitch your work at them. If you have a good idea and a wonderful script then trust me, there are places to take them that are widely known in the public domain and they will listen if your project is good. In my industry- networking to get a decent part or a chance to pitch a TV idea is a sign of not having a basic knowledge of the business or a real sign of having a rubbish agent who can’t point you in the right direction.
The best way to network in comedy and entertainment in my opinion is to take every meeting with people in the business as a chance to enjoy their company. Not the opportunity to press your card into their hand, or worse, try your comedy material out on them as they chat about the weather, the traffic or their latest bout of swine flu. Your own personality and ability to communicate is your calling card. The old adage about ‘Go hard, be pushy’ doesn’t always work, not for me anyway.
I once met Sir Michael Grade by accident, I didn’t know he was the chief TV commissioner at the time, I just thought he was a nice bloke who offered my daughter and I a seat at a busy award ceremony. What struck me was – that nobody sat near him and his lovely wife. I couldn’t work out why he and his wife were sat alone. I felt sorry for them!
We chatted about kids, Glasgow, comedy, TV and politics before I found out how important the man was and even then I immediately held back from explaining what I did for a living. When I finally came clean, he was endearing and charming and told me he felt relieved I hadn’t ‘pounced’ on him. I was the anti- networker. Later on that night he made a point of introducing me to everyone in the room, he was just lovely.
Though I watched so many people come up to him that night and be so rude and pushy with him, it made me cringe.
Networking is about respect and reverence. It’s about finding the right people to listen to your ideas, it’s about finding the names in your field and dropping them an email and it’s about treading carefully and showing your work to the best advantage – that will impress the right people. My industry is different to most people’s chosen career, so all my opinions will make not a jot of sense to other folk in other jobs, so I am no expert.
All I know is – be sober, be interested and be yourself.
We are delighted to welcome Janey Godley as a columnist in the3rdi magazine. If you haven’t come across Janey before she is loud, opinionated and very funny! Her monthly column will bring a sideways look at the issues we cover here and it is sure to provoke comment and debate!
Multi-award-winning Scottish comedienne, playwright, award-winning blogger, best-selling author and former Scotsman newspaper columnist Janey Godley has performed her comedy shows and one-woman play around the world, including off-Broadway in New York. She is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Just a Minute.
In 2006, Janey was nominated and was close runner-up for the annual Scotswoman of the Year title as ‘the most inspirational woman in Scotland‘. At the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, she won the Spirit of The Festival Award.
A regular 5-star performer at the Edinburgh Fringe, in 2008 she won the Fringe Report Award as ‘Best Performer‘ and two Nivea Funny Women Fringe Awards – as ‘Best Stand-Up‘ and, overall, for ‘Best Show‘ as “one of the most prolific and extraordinary stand-up comedians working in the UK”. In 2008, she also won Edinburgh’s WAG of the Year Award as ‘Best After Dinner Speaker‘, was nominated as ‘Best International Guest‘ in the 2008 New Zealand Comedy Guild Awards and was voted No 3 by readers in London listing magazine Time Out’s list of Top Ten Comedians.
In 2009, her new Edinburgh Fringe show Godley’s World received three 5-star reviews.