Let’s face it: Keeping up with your network can be really hard. Most of us just don’t have enough time to go to drinks with our contacts every week or attend networking events regularly. If you can make time for those activities – great! But if you can’t, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways you can keep in touch with your contacts without even leaving your house. Here are our top five:
1. Track the trades. If you’re reading the trades regularly (always a good practice!), you’ll likely come across news about people you know or the companies they work at. If you see something interesting or exciting – a promotion, a new project acquisition, or a sale – send a congratulatory email. It’s nice to be nice! So often we think about how we can use our contacts to help us, but the truth is, real relationships are fostered by mutual appreciation. When you have that moment of, “Good for Jane! I’m so glad her pilot got picked up!” tell her!
2. Use social media. If you see one of your contacts post something on social media – especially if it’s about work – engage with the post. Watch the trailer of the work they shared and comment on it or share it. Congratulate them on their “major life event” of getting a promotion. Like their step and repeat photo. You probably won’t establish meaningful relationships exclusively on social media, but it’s a great way to stay in light touch with someone.
3. Share your own news. Whether on social media (including LinkedIn) or emails to your close contacts, you can share the exciting things happening in your professional life. If self-promotion isn’t really your thing, you can still do a version of this that feels comfortable for you, like reaching out to a contact to let them know you just started a new job and would love to connect about potentially collaborating together.
4. Connect around the holidays. The holidays are a very natural time to get in touch with your contacts. Send individual emails or cards to your contacts to wish them well for the new year and share a bit about what you’ve been up to. You may not get responses from everyone, but well-wishes are always welcome
5. Share interesting content. If you read an article or watch a movie that reminds you of a conversation you had with a contact or seems up their alley, share it! Depending on how close you are, this can be a text, email, or DM. Don’t overdo this – you’re not a news aggregator – but if your contact told you they’re looking for true crime stories to adapt, and you read a super interesting true crime story in The New Yorker, send them the link!
One thing to remember here is to treat your contacts as actual human beings. In fact, we don’t really like the word “contact,” since it implies that you don’t have a real relationship. Once you start thinking of those in your network as people who you respect and whose company you enjoy, it becomes easier to reach out. Remember: We’re all just people working in a highly social business!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
What skills you should include in your LinkedIn profile to boost your entertainment career?
Your LinkedIn skills section is critical when you’re trying to catch the attention of recruiters or applying for jobs through the platform. It allows you to include searchable keywords and match criteria in job listings. It’s important that you update your skills each time you’re looking for a new role or after you’ve expanded your job responsibilities, because it will help recruiters find you more easily, and it will improve your search algorithm when trying to find open roles.
When building your LinkedIn skills section, choose skills that are searchable. You’re able to type freely into this section, but there are also skills you can select from LinkedIn’s pre-existing list. Many of the skills we use in entertainment aren’t included in their list, but there are adjacent skills you can select to help your profile appear in recruiters' search results (though you should make sure the appropriate industry terms are elsewhere in your profile, ideally in your summary and job descriptions). You’ll know whether a skill is searchable if it auto populates as you type it in. You might consider adding synonymous skills, like “leadership” and “team management,” if you have the space, since different job postings or recruiters might use different keywords for the same skill. You have space for 50 skills, so feel free to use it!
Secondly, you want to make sure your “top three skills” are relevant to the people you want reading your profile. These are the only ones people will see without having to expand your profile, so make them count! You can reorganize your skills at any time, and you should do so each time you embark on a new job search.
Finally, many candidates make the mistake of ignoring the skills section altogether and/or forgetting to remove outdated ones. Say you moved to LA straight out of film school and included technical skills like editing and camera operation because they were relevant back then. Now that you’re a few years into your career as a development executive, you should remove them – you don’t need to clutter your profile and confuse prospective employers with skills that don’t align with your work. Don’t worry if you’ll lose some endorsements from back in the day. These are not so relevant, and certainly not as important as telling a cohesive story.
Your skills section, like the rest of your profile, is designed to help communicate your professional story and brand. By keeping it relevant, focused, and updated, you'll be well on your way to a successful profile!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
There’s a persistent myth in Hollywood that you should accept whatever job you’re offered, at the rate that’s being offered, and be grateful for the opportunity. The myth continues once you’re in that role, that you should perform beyond expectations in the hopes that you’ll eventually get a title bump commensurate with your increased responsibility, and maybe that bump will even be accompanied by a raise, as long as you keep your head down and don’t make too many waves.
But the truth is, you have to do more than just earn your promotion or your raise. You also have to ask for what you deserve. While every company’s policies for advancement and increased compensation are different, here are some general principles you should follow to advocate for yourself.
Know your worth. Prepare a list of accomplishments you’ve achieved for the company or show. Where have you brought significant value? What are you doing that’s beyond the original expectations of your role? How have you gotten better at the work you’re doing? What knowledge do you have that a new hire replacing you wouldn’t? In some cases, you’ll want to show this list to your boss, but some bosses won’t read a long document, and instead, you’ll want to have it memorized, so you can cite examples of your work in a conversation.
Know what’s reasonable for your role. Research the current market rate for your position, both through your network, websites like Glassdoor, and tracking boards/Facebook groups. It’s illegal for employers to take action against you for discussing wages with your peers, so you can safely talk to your coworkers about their rates, too – this is one of the best ways to increase pay equity generally. If your peer with the same level of experience is getting paid more for the same work, you can and should leverage that information (especially if you think there may be unlawful discrimination involved).
Have a formal conversation. Getting paid appropriately for the work you’re doing is serious business, so it warrants a serious conversation. In our social industry, it’s easy to assume it’s best to have a conversation about raises casually, so you don’t ruffle any feathers with your ask. But that’s not going to be the most effective way to get what you deserve! Even if your boss is your friend, they still have a job, and that job includes caring for and retaining their employees. You’re not bothering anyone by asking for a conversation – it’s a perfectly normal and expected part of doing business. Ask your boss or the person in charge of pay for time on their calendar, and come prepared to the conversation as you would for any important meeting.
Make a plan for next steps. It may take some time for your raise to go through, so follow up regularly with your boss to check in on the status. Make it clear to them that you take pay very seriously – it’s okay to give off the vibe that you work for money, because that’s a very big aspect of work! Additionally, know that just because you ask for a raise doesn’t mean you’ll receive one. If you don’t get the bump in pay that you deserve, it may be time to move on to a role where you can negotiate a more appropriate salary. If you decide to stay because there are other factors keeping you at the company, ask your boss if there’s anything you can do to get a raise down the line, when you can revisit this compensation discussion, and mark your calendar to follow up.
Remember: You’re not volunteering, the work you do and the perspective you bring are valuable, and conversations about money are not taboo. You got this!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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