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Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Assistant Files

I recently heard this philosophy of networking that says something along the lines of: you don't need to be out trying to meet as many people as possible. Instead you should put your energy into being someone that other people want to meet, and then let them come to you.

Let me first say, I don't know if I'm totally on board with this strategy. It seems like people who have introvert tendencies (ahem, writers) might take this as encouragement to just be TOTALLY AWESOME in the privacy of their own homes.

But it did start me thinking, in a roundabout way, of soundbites.

Say you're taking a meeting. The routine goes that they greet you and offer you a beverage and a seat, and then you have about five minutes of small talk. Because this five minutes comes at the beginning of the meeting when you're still good and nervous, it's pretty intimidating, right? You want to make a good impression, you want to build rapport, maybe you just want your voice to start working and the flop sweats to stop.

We all occasionally struggle with feeling like a person that others want to meet. Especially if you're still in that trying-to-turn-pro stage of your career, you might catch yourself feeling like you don't actually have a lot to offer yet. (Right? Is that just me?) So having a sound bite or two to fill that five minutes, a little scripted TA DA! all planned out ahead of time, can help take the edge off those nerves.

What the heck do I mean by 'soundbite'? Think of it as a hook, something people can latch onto so that you stick in their minds. Remember that game you played at sleepaway camp, "My name is Andy and I like alligators…" It's sort of like that; just a little something you're putting out there that people can associate with you. It makes you memorable.

You're a Yale grad who once took a year off to join the circus. You're a former JAG Corps judge who never rendered anything but a Guilty verdict. You have quotes from your favorite movie, Joe Versus the Volcano, tattooed on your body.

These are all soundbites I've heard from writers as they waited for meetings with my boss. (I can't vouch for their truthfulness, but hey-- they worked.)

With a soundbite, you give people a nice, neat little package of I'm Awesome, Jump On This Bandwagon. But you ALSO give the people you've met a way to sell you to, say, their agent, boss, or whomever else they might be passing one of your scripts along to. They get to rave about the fantastic new writer they met, and top it off with, "AND she used to work as a pilot for the President of the Congo. You should totally meet her." You're actually helping make their job easier. Now doesn't that sound like someone that other people would want to meet?

Andy Sachs

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Cinema Cynic said...

"You have quotes from your favorite movie, Joe Versus the Volcano, tattooed on your body."

With this one, I'd have to call security.

E.C. Henry said...

I wanna meet you, Andy Sachs. If only were a real person, and not a gatekeeper's version of Snufalufagus. I can't believe what depths my life has fallen to: I'm composing messages for Snufalufagus to read...

But in all seriousness. Would love to actually get to that point in my career where I get to take a meeting. If that ever happens I'll TRY to be memorable WITHOUT outright lying and comprimsing my integrity.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Luzid said...

@ E.C.:

Please stop stalking. You're creeping me out, and I'm not even the one being stalked!

E.C. Henry said...

Luzid, it's hard to stalk someone when you live TWO STATES north of them. Plus, how could ANYONE be a legit stalker when they describe the person they admire as being Snufalufagus.

Cute Sweedish guys are so oftenly misunderstood. Get on the buss, Guss.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA