First, an addition to yesterday's post, from Matthew:
I am a senior about to graduate from Notre Dame and I'm heading out to LA soon to be a sitcom writer. I was wondering if you, as a college-grad-turned-aspiring-writer, had any advice about the best time to get out to Cali. I am currently planning on heading out about a week after graduation, so around the 25th of May. Do you think I should try to get out there earlier? Later? Does it matter?
Yes. Don't come when one of the guilds is on strike.
Otherwise, nah, it doesn't matter. There will always be jobs - and I don't even think it matters that so many people graduate in May, because lots of people (myself included) put off the move to save money, backpack across Europe, try practical careers in investment banking, etc. People bring their dreams to Hollywood year-round. You can try to wait for staffing season if you want to work on a TV production in some capacity, but I wouldn't even do that...cable shows are on different schedules anyway, and there are plenty of other jobs to be had. Watch out for August, though - It was over 100 degrees for the first three weeks I lived here. (Damn that 100% silk, dry-clean-only, sexy-yet-professional, perfect-for-job-interviews BCBG shirt.)
A note from reader who's been in LA a few years longer than I have:
November-December is a terrible time to move out here (or, for your future, look for the next job). The UTA Joblist shrinks that time of year every year and the amount of people hiring declines because everyone wraps up for the following year.
And onto my main topic for today: Networking. It's a delicate art. Basically, you want to try to get to know as many people as you can. Everybody in Hollywood understands that this is how it works, and we think nothing of having drinks with complete strangers to talk about our careers. People do it in other industries too, but it is still foreign to some people, like my friend who's presently wondering what to do with his film degree in Wisconsin:
LoganEcholls4eva (ok, I made this one up): I'm having drinks with a guy tonight.
MadisonsBicycleThief (this one too): It's Monday.
LoganEcholls4eva : No, I'm not getting wasted or anything, it's networking.
LoganEcholls4eva: Yeah, like, meeting people for career stuff.
MadisonsBicycleThief: So you're meeting a guy. For a drink. At a bar. And it's not about sex?
Well...I mean...it depends...
In all seriousness, I think the most important thing to remember about networking is that it's not asking for favors - it's cultivating relationships. A big mistake I see newbies make is that they ask for favors right off the bat, like, will you read my script? can you get me a job? can you get me an agent? etc. Don't do this - it's tacky, and it makes the other person feel like they're being used (because that's pretty much what you're doing). It shouldn't be all about you; you should give them reason to want to cultivate a relationship with you also.
Don't ask for a date either! It's creepy. My friend actually had this happen to her after a networking event: she got an email from a guy asking her to set up meetings with agents for him (!!)...and THEN had the nerve to ask her out on a date. Yeesh. It's one thing if you really hit it off, but they had like a 5-minute conversation. Be professional, and be patient. Networking has to be an even-sided relationship. After a while, helping each other out will come naturally and it won't seem like you're just asking for favors.
But - what if you're networking with people at a much higher level? You probably don't have any way to help them out. That's okay, they will understand. Start with asking for advice. Ask about how they got to where they are, what they think would be beneficial for you to do, etc. It's okay for you to be the one initiating the contact (in fact, you will probably have to be the one to initiate with former internship supervisors, execs, older alumni from your school, etc.) - just be brief and friendly.
So let's recap:
Don't be shy. Meet as many people as possible.
Don't ask for favors right off the bat. Cultivate a relationship first.
Don't let it be all about you.
Don't be a creep.
Do keep up with former colleagues and supervisors every few months.
Do ask for advice.