Networking a Greater Cleveland Film Commission Mixer: No Time To Be A Wallflower – Part 1

Networking has been described as “the process of making connections and building relationships.  These connections can provide you with advice and contacts, which can help you make informed career decisions.  Networking can even help you find unadvertised jobs/internships.”  If you are contemplating a career in the growing film production industry in NE Ohio or taking your current industry related job to the next level, there is no better opportunity for quality networking than a Greater Cleveland Film Commission (GCFC) Mixer.  The next is set for September 20, 2023, at McCarthy’s Downtown (1231 Main Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44113) from 6 to 9 pm. 

The previous two mixers were packed affairs with a great mix of current and aspiring crew, vendors, and talent.  Even if you are a business not in the industry per se, come on out and mingle with GCFC staff, as well as industry folks who might just need the products or services you provide for an upcoming project.  95% of the people who work in the film industry never walk down the red carpet. A film crew is made up of hundreds, sometimes thousands, more jobs than just the director, actors, or camera operators.  Almost any job skill you have will translate to a career in the film and TV industry! 

Check out the chart at this link, which includes just a handful of possible career paths you can take to get your start in production.

A few tips for a productive night of networking and fun:

  • Bring plenty of business cards and arrive early with a plan as to who in general you must connect with during the allotted time.  Try to accomplish this goal in the first hour, and it will take some of the edge off for the remainder of your time at the event.
  • As the title of this piece suggests, don’t just stand around, even if others might be.  Be proactive by introducing yourself and acting like you belong in the place.  Believe me, everyone has a touch of anxiety in a social setting and will love you for breaking the ice.  My late father-in-law loved to tell our kids right before they were about to play in a big sporting event – “Let them know you were there!” 
  • Don’t launch into a long soliloquy.  Be concise and ask questions about the person you are engaging.  The goal is not to close a deal on the spot, but to exchange information and the promise to get in touch to set up a meeting to go into more detailed conversation.  Remember, networking is making the connection.  Besides, there may be several people you need to connect with, so make the best use of your time and that of the person you are speaking with who will likely have networking objectives of their own. 
  • Introduce yourself to all GCFC staff, some of whom will be at the check-in desk and may be able to point you in the right direction of the individual(s) you are looking to connect with.  There is also a sheet at the check-in desk with QR code links to GCFC team members facilitating setting up a time to meet with them in the future. 
  • Make sure your name tag is legible and accurately says who you are and/or what you are seeking to do.  Someone just might be looking for you, so write large enough for people to see as they pass by you during the night.
  • Be mindful of body language.  You can tell how a group is standing (open or closed) as to whether they are open to a new person joining in with them. Obviously, firm handshake, look folks in the eye when you address them, and don’t be an uncomfortable Seinfeld “close talker.”  LOL.
  • Have fun!  This is a party, so it is okay to act like it.  People like to be around others with positive energy, but of course, don’t overdo it with excessive loudness and “barroom curls.”  Don’t be a wallflower, but it is also not the time to be the life of the party.

Your actions post-event are as important as the event itself, if not more so.  Try to send an email to each person you took a card from at the mixer within 24 – 48 hours.  Mention how nice it was to meet, a tidbit about something you remember from the conversation, and how you would like to get together in person to continue the dialogue.  Give a few alternative dates/times as appropriate, particularly if it was said during your encounter at the mixer that there would indeed be some kind of follow-up.  Do your LinkedIn research prior to that follow-up meeting.

SIGN UP FOR THE GCFC NEWSLETTER!  That way you can keep up with what is going on in the local film community, including future productions, networking, and job/intern opportunities.  Visit the GCFC website – where you can register as a vendor or crew, as well as access other valuable film production-related data.

Finally, National Hispanic Heritage Month is annually celebrated from September 15 to October 15 across the United States in recognition of the history, culture, influence, and achievements of Hispanic Americans.  This year’s theme is – Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America.  So, a special shout out to all my Latino brothers and sisters for their continuing contributions in shaping the collective American dream.  As my dad loved to say – keep on keeping on! Mantente adelante! 

Chief Diversity Officer, VP Corporate & Community Engagement