If you see this as a good thing or a bad thing, at the end of the day it isn’t what you know, it’s almost always who you know that can make the biggest difference within your life. Especially from a creative standpoint.
For the longest time I’ve struggled with the whole concept of ‘approaching strangers for favours’. By nature I’m most certainly closer to a hermit crab than a pack animal. It has its benefits but it most certainly has its drawbacks too. On many an occasion I’ve found myself worse off in the long run because I didn’t take the plunge with introducing myself to a particular person. I’m trying to rectify this now, but it has most certainly hindered me up to this point.
A little bit of background information on me, just in case this doesn’t make sense. I was born and raised within the Steel Town Scunthorpe where I still reside to this day. The majority of my family are here all of which I’m obviously happy to be around and I know they’d do anything for me.
I made a brief escape for the three years I was at the University of Lincoln where my eyes were opened to the importance of truly networking. Still I couldn’t bring myself forward to connect and become friends or colleagues with many of them. After my three years were up I came away with my degree and enough people to fit on two hands. For three years worth of time and effort, I failed when it came to networking.
Since leaving and returning back home I realised just how truly isolated I was in my creative pursuits. Being an industrial town, there is very little in the way of outlets for anyone who would want to pursue a creative career. For a time I attempted to change this.
Summoning up my courage, which was difficult for me, I took the plunge and created a page dedicated to collaboration between anyone with a creative passion within my hometown. The page was short-lived but it served a purpose; through the group I made new connections which I still use to this day.
Wanting to take this further, I took another plunge this time into a creative writing course, hoping to meet once again more like-minded people with the same passion as me. I came away from the group with two writers who I have since worked on seven television concepts and treatments with. If I hadn’t made the effort in both of these instances, I would have remained in my closed bubble and continued to suffer in silence.
I’ve been on the receiving end of the negative side of networking lately in regards to pitching my work to potential publishers or production companies. This isn’t anything against them obviously, it’s more the system of it all. What is required in the majority of cases is an agent to sell you and your work. Now there is a handful of places that accept unsolicited work, but it would have been so much easier if I had an agent. That’s a story for another day though, so I won’t go into over detail about that.
Another side to this is that, as an example, if I had known someone within a production company or publishing house who could vouch for me, then maybe something would have happened by now. It really is a lot of ifs and buts, but there is no denying that if I knew more people within a position of power that could help me, my progress would have been greatly improved and they might have actually answered my knock at the door. Yes, I just made another door analogy… It really is who you know that makes the biggest difference.
I can only really speak from my own personal experiences, but I can’t speak highly enough of the importance of going the extra mile and putting yourself out there. Don’t make the same mistakes I have. I wouldn’t say I’ve wasted three years, but it could have been so much easier to achieve all I have to this day.
I now have a small network of creative people ranging from illustrators, animators, graphic designers, writers, editors and even the odd interior designer because, well, you never know!
Moving forward I’m going to attempt to attend as many networking events as I can. Hopefully I can put right the mistakes I’ve made.
Thank you for reading, I hope it was interesting to a degree at least. It was strangely uplifting to write about.