One of my favorite Hollywood behind-the-scenes blogger, Doug Richardson, shared a story about a dad who wanted to break into entertainment:
“I got so friggin’ tired of trying to climb the hill,” claimed the preschool dad. “But it’s such a who-you-know business. Without the connections, guys like me can never get ahead.
Here’s the truth, Doug writes:
Nearly everyone in showbiz began with zero Hollywood connections.
(If this resonates with you, I’d recommend picking up Doug’s book, The Smoking Gun: True Tales from Hollywood’s Screenwriting Trenches.)
I want to pick up where this post left off:
How do you start building connections?
In a nutshell: Drink with as many people as you can.
Below are my 27 rules to “doing drinks” in Hollywood.
This is how I went from waiting tables (Ozumo in Santa Monica — no longer there — and Natalee Thai on Venice Blvd) to working with Dennis Lehane (Boardwalk Empire, The Wire, Shutter Island).
This is a methodical approach. Some might call it “cold.” They wouldn’t be wrong.
I’ve found it works for people like me, who read books like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi because the idea that I could “just be myself” triggered blinding anxiety that made me want to throw up.
(I keep notes on every book I read and make them publicly available. My notes for Never Eat Alone are here.)
With that said, your mileage will vary. All rules are meant to be bent. Some broken. Here we go:
27 Rules to Doing Drinks in Hollywood
- Take nothing personally. Last minute cancellation? Enjoy your free night and try again
- Always drinks, never dinner
- Short invitations. “We should do drinks. How far out are you? I could do next Thursday”
- Schedule 3-4 networking drinks per week. At least 2 will cancel. See #1
- Google the shit out of people
- Keep a list of go-to places. Picking a location should take 2 minutes, not 9 emails. Here’s what my list looks like
- Keep it convenient. No meet-n-greet drinks in Burbank if you’re coming from Santa Monica
- Avoid loud places
- Avoid 3-4 person group drinks
- Get their phone number
- Remove the words, “today was crazy” from your vocabulary
- Order your usual drink. Stick to what you know
- Share something cool you did this weekend
- Do something cool on the weekends
- Admit you stalked them. “I saw online you did X. That’s awesome, how did that happen?”
- Stop with the phone. Silence it and put it face down on the table
- Take notes on them. I dictate notes as I walk back to my car
- Add notes to their contact information
- Put their contact info into “buckets”. “A” means you’ll reach out 1/week, “B” 1/month, “C” 1x every 3 months (h/t Keith Ferrazzi)
- Follow-up like a pro (next day). “Great to meet you. Here’s that script I mentioned. Looking forward to reading/watching X”
- Follow-up like a pro (2 weeks). “I got through 50 pages of X. The writing was good but it wasn’t for me. Thank you for sharing, I really appreciate it”
- If you can give, give. Scripts, screeners, information
- If you need, ask. See #23
- Keep a short list of people you want to see again. This should be about 10% of the people you meet
- Use multiple mediums. Get off email. Text, gchat, or Facebook message people you want to build a relationship with
- Do drinks back-to-back. Advanced only. Maximize your time with back-to-back drinks when possible
What did I miss? What rules do you follow?
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk