Rejection in networking online and in person
July 7, 2016 3:29 PM   Subscribe

How can I better deal with rejection when attempting to network online and in person?

Recently I've started to attempt networking online and a little in person to hopefully boost my business. I work in the entertainment industry but my job is mostly done from home. For years I've never been on social network sites. I'm starting very slowly but have opened several accounts. Unfortunately I'm getting what I feel are unexpected declines for either friending or connecting. And getting followers is daunting. I'm taking it pretty hard...perhaps people in my industry simply do not respect my work. And when push comes to shove I'd say I'm somewhat successful at what I do. But I've been so quiet about it over the years I get the feeling nobody knows or cares.

Also, I recently had a good conversation with a colleague while working on a project during which time we both agreed to meet for lunch. They texted me their number. Next day I texted back seeing if they'd be interested in lunch over the next couple days...and no response. Not being able to do lunch is understandable...but the no response is hard to stomach. This, along with people I thought were some what friends rejecting me online has caused me to feel down and almost want to bring a quick end to my attempts at networking.

Perhaps I'm just misjudging people? Perhaps I'm making mistakes at my invite attempts? This is the entertainment business and there's a lot of fake people, but usually I see that pretty quickly and don't associate with them. One note...I am in my opinion, somewhat socially awkward. Not with people I know well, but with new people. I'm working on it...but that could certainly be a factor. Any thoughts about all this are welcomed.
posted by ljs30 to Human Relations (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Some of us are burned out on social media and just don't want any more "friends", so keep in mind that it's not necessarily you. Also, people often forget to respond to texts or respond later when their house/office/project isn't burning down. Just keep plugging away, and try not to take rejections or being ignored personally (because that never helps and is often wrong), and keep working on the awkward thing. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 3:43 PM on July 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

"Invites" sounds like LinkedIn and many people are just plain sick of that. Like Bella Donna said, at this point I basically do not accept any requests on Facebook unless I already know that I will definitely be working closely with the person in the near future. I just unfriended a bunch of otherwise perfectly nice people, but people I have no expectation of seeing often or working with. So, don't take it personally.

And, yeah it's really easy to say to myself, "I'll get back to that text later when I have time." And, time never comes....
posted by Gotanda at 3:55 PM on July 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

You know what the secret to networking is, as far as I can tell? Don't do it to boost your business. Do it to boost the other guy's business. Find out what people are good at, and what they need, and connect them to other people who are good at those things. Figure out what you can offer, not what you can get.

Not only are people vastly more likely to accept requests, etc, but they will think of you more often and more fondly. And this will, eventually, work its way around to helping you out. The best-connected people I know are the ones who hook friends up with jobs they've heard about, who help out with personal projects or make introductions or figure out ways to take folks out on the company card at events. Be that guy. It works!
posted by restless_nomad at 4:02 PM on July 7, 2016 [30 favorites]

networking has to be mutually beneficial, or else nobody wants to do it - nothing personal. You have to figure out what you have to offer folks and lead with that, not with what you want from them.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:23 PM on July 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you work in the entertainment industry, you should resign yourself right now to the fact that "networking" isn't really a thing.

You will find all sorts of "networking" events, tips, etc. All of them are B.S.

The only way to "network" in this field is to do good work, be friendly and easy to work with, and, if applicable, make friends with other people at your level within the industry (both in and out of your particular area).

Especially any networking that involves meeting people who would potentially hire you. That's just not how it works. You will be disappointed over and over if your idea of networking is "Hi, I know you must be very busy, but please look at my reel!" or the like.

Rachel Bloom, the creator of the TV show My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, is a friend of a friend of mine. I don't know her personally, but I've heard our mutual connection gripe on numerous occasions that he's emailed her a few times to ask her to read a script, or connect him with someone, or to book her on his live comedy show, or what have you. It seems super obvious to me that she's busy and it's not her fricking job to juggle annoying asks from everyone she's ever so much as taken an improv class with. Don't be my one friend who knows Rachel Bloom.
posted by Sara C. at 4:31 PM on July 7, 2016 [12 favorites]

Also all of my friends who are starting to get successful in the entertainment industry HATE IT when they get requests to "have lunch and pick your brain." Don't do this.
posted by Sara C. at 4:32 PM on July 7, 2016 [6 favorites]

Please read Ari L. Kaplan's book The Opportunity Maker. The target audience is recent law graduates but the advice he gives can be used by anyone who works in a field where networking or rainmaking/finding new business/getting referrals is important. The book has a lot of ways to show how to do this gracefully and not just by trying to connect on social media with people who are probably very fatigued of social media; that is a current state of life that is totally unrelated to you and your expertise.

Don't ask people to give you advice for free. Offer them something: contact them to tell them about something they are interested in, tell them about a possible solution to a problem they said they were working on. Arrange for an introduction to a person or company that you know and that you think they would have a reason to be interested in. Send thank you notes to people for work they have already done, if it made you think or inspired you or you learned something from it.

Acknowledge and value people you work with in small, low pressure ways. Did a colleague mention they were working toward a big deadline? Make a note, and follow up with them a week or so after the deadline passed - "Hey how did X launch go? I bet it turned out great! Hope you're enjoying a relaxing break after finishing such a big project." Or birthdays, or travel plans, or kid's events, or whatever people are telling one another about. Just listen. This kind of stuff costs nothing, takes two minutes, and makes people feel great about you and great in general. As a bonus it will give you a reason to rekindle contact with someone you met with a few times but never had drinks or lunch with. Then they will remember you, and if the appropriate opportunity comes up, they are more likely to recommend you for it as a result.

Be a friend. Be a person who is gracious, polite, helpful, easy to get along with, and above all someone who remembers things about people and shows that in some concrete way. Doing this kind of emotional labor will get you way further than any "tips" you can google.

I don't use social media now, but when I did, I would always add someone who wrote to me saying "Hey I read what you said about X and it made me think/inspired me/prompted me to consider something new" with their friend request rather than "hey you're cool! add me on here!!!" The person who could meaningfully engage got the benefit of the doubt from me even if they were a total stranger.

"I'm taking it pretty hard...perhaps people in my industry simply do not respect my work." Between this and the example you gave of the person never responded to your invitation to have lunch, okay, please do not take this personally. Please. People just do not have time.

You don't know if they even have time for lunch or what they might need to do during that time if they have it. Weeks have passed where I do not eat with anyone or go for drinks because I either have too much going on to eat for more than five or ten minutes, or I'm dealing with something that saps my energy to be social. But I love my coworkers and I definitely value their work. I try to be present in other ways when I can't sit down with them for 30 min-1 hour (or several hours after work) like that.
posted by zdravo at 4:58 PM on July 7, 2016 [11 favorites]

You're coming into an already over-saturated market -- social networks at this point are established things. Most people expect that others are reasonably well connected through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. New follows or responses to friend requests at this point must be made through providing valuable content, or a significant connection in person. You can't just rely on the newness of the platform to connect with others. That time is long past.

If you feel that people don't value your work, figure out what about your work *can* provide interest and value to them, and promote it as much as you can through those channels. Good work shines through.
posted by ananci at 1:15 AM on July 8, 2016

Totally late to the party, but I wanted to throw in a couple ideas. Unfortunately, networking can be a daunting task when you've never done it before.

The following is my experience based on my professional field, so details are largely irrelevant, but the bigger concepts are useful. First, I have found that online networking (through social media) to be far less useful than in-person networking. YMMV. LinkedIn is a nice tool, but I hardly ever make use of it. I concur with other posters that social media is not really the best way to network AFA business is concerned.

Second, networking is a relatively slow process. It has taken me 4-5 years to build the network I have now. What worked for me was to start going to conferences in my field. I realize you're in entertainment, but bear with me. I started going to conferences (botany) and introducing myself to professionals in the field. I paid for my first conference out of my own pocket ($800) because I wasn't in the field yet. I talked with folks from different institutions, asking questions about how to break into the field. Most people were great, and a couple were jerks. I continued working at my regular job and attended the conferences every year. The second year I happened to meet some super swell folks at a place that I would like to work in the future. Instead of talking about myself, I took an interest in them and asked about the kinds of projects they were working on. We had great conversations and I still consider these particular folks my closest network buddies. We have such a great connection that they feel like my friends.

Be a friend. Be a person who is gracious, polite, helpful, easy to get along with, and above all someone who remembers things about people and shows that in some concrete way. Doing this kind of emotional labor will get you way further than any "tips" you can google.

This is awesome advice. Professional peers and colleagues are people too just like anyone else, which means that kindness, friendliness, and just being a good person goes a long way.

I just got back from the annual conference I attend, and it was really nice seeing the people in my professional network. The relationships I have been building keep getting richer as time goes on. Networking absolutely is possible and one of the most rewarding things about my career. I work in a very niche field in an even niche-ier position, and I wouldn't be here without working hard at befriending my fellows along the way. If you, OP, could figure out a rough equivalent in the entertainment industry of a conference, attend it, introduce yourself to people you're interested in, ask them all about their newest gigs, and I bet they will want to know what you've got going on too.

Then before you know it, you'll be back on the green encouraging someone else who needs networking advice. :)
posted by strelitzia at 10:16 AM on July 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I will suggest you find some means to measure your progress in a way that helps you count your successes instead of only counting your failures.
posted by Michele in California at 12:53 PM on July 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

« Older How to help my SIL who is dealing w/husband...   |   CNN Chile - Live v Recording and Viewing via 'net Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.