Sunday, December 16, 2007

Take it from the striking Hollywood writers ... December is a great time to network!

I have parachuted into L.A. for a few days to visit, among others, my friend Henry who was once a lawyer and is now a glamorous TV writer. However, just moments after he inked his new deal with a certain well-known star's production company, the Writers' Guild went on strike. So now he has to work that picket line.

It does not surprise me at all that, amongst the various striker antics (like Star Trek-themed day) the strike itself is turning out to be a great networking event. Because, basically, when you have a lot of verbal people hanging around for hours at a time every day, they end up getting to know each other a lot better.

One of the hazards of being any kind of entrepreneur (and writers are basically entrepreneurs) is that it's very easy to get isolated. Especially when you have to turn out the next episode of a show that's already jumped the shark, like Desperate Housewives. ("Let's see, we've given Lynette cancer and had a tornado come out of nowhere. Wait, I've got it! We'll send Carlos to Thailand for a botched a sex-change operation!") Networking is one way to counteract this isolation. It helps people keep up on relevant information, forge connections, and brainstorm possibilities, and writers need it as much as anyone else.

You don't have to be a glamorous striking writer spending his days chatting up Valerie Harper (as my friend was doing last week) to be a good networker. Just spend some time accessing some of your weaker ties (people you don't know all that well or whom you used to know but have fallen out of touch with).

There's a misconception that you can't do much job-related networking in December, since people stop working, go off to wherever they came from, and in general spend their days in the swamp of holiday commercialism. But actually, December is a great time for networking. Whoever is left in town isn't really doing all that much work and the upcoming New Year has made people a bit more reflective of where life is taking them. If you manage to get in touch with them, they are probably available for conversation. Since the normal rhythms of professional life are off it's a good chance to mix things up a little bit.

Facebook can wait, people. And so can that shelf take-down memorandum. Get off your computer and get out there in the world and connect!