Networking – What emails to send and when

Having a new resume written is a great reason to reach out to people you know in your professional network. You are sending them new information, and reminding them of your existence.

For Networking, you don’t have to be actually looking for a job right at this moment. You may be fully booked for the next 6 months on a series. Like nurturing your email list – which I admit is one of my failings – engaging with your network is a very valuable and needed activity. This is about nurturing your network for the sake of the future when you are looking.

Networking is just as important for freelancers who should always be considering their next contract, as it is for people in long term jobs. Even established people should still keep their network active in case the job comes to an abrupt end, or just for the sake of being prepared when the time comes to move on – or up – in your career. A vibrant network is part of any exit strategy.

I recommend sending out your updated resume when you have specific milestones to announce, as well as achievements, and sending a more general email which would contain the link to your website (updated!) in the sig line when you have something to offer or congratulations to make.

Send your newest, updated resume to various people when:

  • You are close to the end of your freelance gig – with the new gig noted in your credits as “in production” or “in post”. Alternatively, you would email after your show wraps – especially a long gig like a series. This is obviously to alert people to when you will be available again. This is especially useful for people who have hired you before as a freelancer.
  • You are about to start a long term job with an organization – which places you differently in other people’s networks. Again people who are hirers or management appreciate this information because it makes you a contact at the company.
  • For general networking, every 6 to 8 months when you have updates to your credits on your new resume. This is a good way to keep in touch with peers. You will often want to include an ask to meet for coffee or whatever to catch up. Ideally the person is too busy to meet up socially because they are working, but does have some professional referrals or screening invitations for you.
  • You move to another address or another city. While your email is unlikely to change outside of getting a company email, this is still a good excuse to reach out to people at all levels, and might result in local referrals.

Tip: You know by now that I recommend that everyone have two resume formats – one for ATS and one credits-based for direct submission. Most of the time for networking emails you will be using the direct submission resume. Only use the ATS for people working at a production company, Network, Streamer, or Studio.

Reach out with more general communiques – that is not including your resume – when:

  • You hear about a milestone or success on the part of your contact. Congratulations are always welcome – but wait to be asked for your resume to forward it, or you would appear self-serving rather than genuinely pleased for them.
  • You have something interesting to offer such as tickets to a screening, or a pass to a special event, or you have heard about an event, contest, or opportunity that your colleague would benefit from.
  • You have a personal milestone, such as marriage, or having a child – with caveats. You will of course want to let people close to you know, but you should use your own judgment as to whether telling people in your network individually (as distinct from social media announcements) will be helpful professionally. Will the producer expect an invitation to your wedding or baby shower if you let them know personally? I don’t know if that is good or bad.

What to write

This is just a light touch of connection. Unlike when you are speaking with someone at an event, you are not necessarily trying to initiate a conversation. You want to give the sense that you are open to such, without suggesting an expectation of a reply. Brevity is the key.

  1. Remind them of your connection – the projects you worked on, even if it was recent. A very recent project can include words like, “It was great to work with you on TITLE. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished film.”
  2. Tell them why you are sending them this message now. Either to offer the invitation to the screening or event OR to send them a resume – “It’s been a while since we spoke, and I wanted to make sure that you had my most up-to-date resume” or “I just put together a new resume with my most recent credits, and wanted you to have a copy for your files” or “my current project will be wrapping on DATE, and I wanted you to have my updated resume” or “I have just moved to CITY and I wanted to make sure you had my new address, and most recent resume.”
  3. Express your willingness to connect and your best wishes, but keep it simple without obligation. “I’d love to hear about your current projects.” Notice that is a time when you DON’T ask a question that would demand a response. It’s OK if the communication is all in one direction right now. But chances are, they will reply.

How to ask for help finding a job

In a case where you are going beyond just general networking, but when you really do need a job immediately, you would still want to remind them of your connection in the first paragraph of your email note, but then be more direct. Now you do hope for a reply that is a “Yes”.

For peers, your note could say something like, “I’m looking for my next job. Would you be willing to forward my resume to your department head?” or ask “Have you heard of anyone hiring?”

People don’t always assume that their friends need a job at any time, without being told. Remember that you are helping them too, by giving them the chance to help solve their supervisor’s problem by recommending excellent staff to them. Hirers love referrals – and this goes for just about every sector and every business, not just entertainment. Even if the answer is no, you are still contributing to the energy of the Universe in moving towards your next great job.

When communicating with producers/hirers that you know, you might phrase it along the lines of, “I enjoyed working on your team, and I’m about to be available. Do you have any upcoming projects that could use my skills?” or “Since I worked for you on TITLE, I’ve added to my resume and my skills. I’m currently available. May I call your assistant and set up an appointment?”

Tip: Always put your phone number under your name in this kind of email. Don’t make them have to search for it. They may not even need to bother with opening your resume if they already know you.

You just never know when someone will be glad to know you are available. Hopefully you are relatively top-of-mind because you have been sending out those updates every 6 or 8 months – or at least once a year.

Good luck with your job search!

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