Today we’re excited to learn about networking in the Video, Film & TV industries. Explore advice and top tips from our guest blogger, Dominic Sutherland, who is the Managing Director of NextShoot, a corporate video production company in London making business video content for well-known brands.
How important is networking for the video production industry?
‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is cold comfort to students who’ve spent 3 years learning a vocational craft, but don’t yet have many contacts. And yet there is some truth the saying, especially in the video production industry.
60 per cent of all jobs linger out of sight in the ‘hidden job market,’ where positions are not officially advertised. I expect it’s an even higher percentage in the creative industries, which rely heavily on recommendations and where businesses receive a constant stream of speculative applications.
Throughout your career, your CV and portfolio of work remain your calling-card, but you’re more likely to find work through your network of contacts than by responding to an advert.
What opportunities does networking bring?
Whatever stage you’re at with your career, networking offers you the chance to establish contacts for future employment or services, but when you’re starting out it also brings other opportunities.
First, it enables you to gather information on the sector and specific roles within the industry, helping you to clarify your own path and goals. Secondly, it’s a way to find mentors who will give you advice on how to make your way in video production. Finally, it’s also a way to meet like-minded professionals at all stages of their career to bounce your ideas off and foster potential collaborations.
How can students practice networking at university?
Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone and yet it’s a crucial component of finding work throughout your career. Think of it like any skill – it requires some commitment, thought and practice to execute it successfully.
Ahead of any networking, get your elevator pitch worked out. What can you say in 30 seconds that encapsulates your skills, passion and goals?
Practical tips for networking:
Attend networking events, especially those that are career-orientated. It’s worth remembering that networking is a two-way street, so while you should prep what you want to say about yourself, be prepared to listen to others. It’s fine to have business/contact card, but don’t hand them out like fliers – wait until someone asks you for your details. Industry-specific organisations like Production Base offer networking opportunities, while platforms like Eventbrite and Meetup are good places to search for real-world events.
Digital Networking is more likely to be peer to peer, but networking is about reaching out laterally to other professionals in similar roles as well as to those making decisions higher up the production ladder. After all, a producer who is crewing up might ask a camera operator’s opinion on who to use as a sound recordist. Shooting People is an established community of creatives where you can find like-minded people involved in all areas of video production.
Social Media offers excellent networking opportunities, above all LinkedIn. Of course, this requires you to develop a professional-looking page of your own. The tone on LinkedIn is different to that on Facebook or Instagram, so you need to gauge how best to reach out to people in an appropriate way. LinkedIn is currently developing a Careers advice tool that could also be useful.
Even if you have yet to start work, there is little to prevent you from building a website with information about your skills and examples from your portfolio. While your website will develop as you gain experience, it’s good to practice framing your abilities and work from the offset.
As a graduate, one networking opportunity is right under your nose, in the shape of the gatekeepers between academic life and the real world – your lecturers. They can help you with career advice and potentially, if you’ve shown promise, provide you with a reference.
Interacting in the real world is probably the most effective way to develop your network of people and networking skills, so join societies, volunteer in organisations that allow you to meet people who can support you (in the media department of a charity, for example), and seek out internships with relevant businesses.
King’s Careers Take: Interested in finding events where you can network with employers? Look no further than our KEATS pages – where our events section helps you find webinars, career festivals and panel events.
After connecting with industry professionals, how would you keep in contact?
When you first make a connection it’s important to follow up quickly. So invite them to become a contact on Linkedin if you can, making the effort to personalise your message as a reminder of where and when you met.
It’s also good practice to email any new leads so they have a record of your details, should they want them.
What’s hardest to judge is how much to push yourself forward. It’s good to show passion, but don’t become too forthright. Use your common sense as to when it’s the right time to request a follow-up call or face-to-face. It’s definitely best not to alienate contacts who you might find useful down the line.
And there are always good reasons to get in touch later. An updated showreel, TX information on a project you’ve worked on, or an award or achievement give you a valid excuse to not only put a post on LinkedIn and other Social Media platforms but to email your contacts.
Whenever a contact helps you, be sure to write to say thank you. If you can send a hand-written message, all the better. It’s worth remembering that at a certain stage in their career many professionals are looking for someone to mentor and champion. Become that person.
Finally, once you are established and in a position to help others, do remember to pay it forward to another generation of video production graduates.
NextShoot is a small video agency, but we do offer year-round work placements to undergraduates.
For details on this please visit the NextShoot work experience page.