Inspiring Tidbits

Good Hair Days (a.k.a., the Secret of Schmoozing)

If only.

Many of my colleagues spent the weekend schmoozing it up at the Austin Film Festival. Even though I skipped out on the festivities this year, I find myself pondering the question that all conferences and networking events bring up: how do you sell yourself and your talent while still acting like, well, yourself? I know some screenwriters who live and die by Burger King meals and tequila-spiked sodas as their pre-pitch ritual, and yet others who swear their elevator pitches go ten times smoother when they remember to tense their butt muscles the whole time. Personally, I like channeling the energy and confidence I feel on particularly good hair days, but this tactic tends to backfire if it draws my attention to the fact that I’m having the antithesis of a good hair day in reality.

All this is to say: screenwriters take the “imagine everyone in the room naked” concept to a whole new level. My only guess as to why we coin this new kind of crazy is the simple fact that writers are generally most comfortable when alone at a desk…We love to let our work speak for itself, but the reality is that when you’re trying to make it as a screenwriter you need to know how to speak for your work instead. I think it’s this counter-intuitive necessity for writers to have good speaking skills that leads us to invent such zany coping mechanisms. Other than tossing my hair and imagining everyone’s seeing the best-possible version of me, what little I’ve gleaned about schmoozing is as follows:

  • Only talk to people who genuinely interest you. (The more interest you express in them, the more interest they’ll have in you.)
  • Approach everyone with the attitude of “what can I learn from you?” instead of “what can I get from you?”
  • Before attending an event, practice a 30-second summary of who you are, what you do, and what projects you’re working on. Also, practice a five-minute pitch with which to follow this up if people want to know more about your current screenplay.
  • Remember to listen attentively and ask thoughtful questions.
  • When all else fails, drink tequila and imagine your locks blowing in the breeze.

Do you have any other tricks that help you deal with public speaking and self-promotion? Have you ever tried any of the methods mentioned above? Please dish.

Image source: Pinterest.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Megan Rounseville March 14, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Jenn I got a good laugh out of this one. Being back at school, our career services department makes it their mission to throw us into all sorts of career networking events, which are never pleasant. I thought your advice was excellent especially the importance of having a good hair day!

  • Reply Jennifer R. Coté March 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Aren’t career fairs some of the strangest events ever, Megan? I don’t know whether big career events, schmooze-filled cocktail hours or networking dinners are more awkward, but the best we can all hope to do at any of these is to just be ourselves and look presentable (especially in the hair regions). Hope all your schmoozing is going swimmingly!

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