Q. I could use your critiques, but what I need even more badly are your contacts. How much do you charge for that service? Please let me know if you have a price for networking.
First of all, you don't want my contacts. You want my agent's contacts. Or, if you're in the States, you want an American agent's contacts. Writers spend most of their time writing. Agents spend almost all of their time cultivating their contacts.
Second, you can't really hire someone to hook you up with people as a writer. You can hire script consultants to read your material, and if they love it, they will likely pass it along to someone. If they don't love it, they'd be crazy to pass you along. They'll get a reputation as someone who passes along bad material, and people will stop reading the material they pass along.
Of course, if you want to be a producer, and you have a ton of money, you can hire a publicist to introduce you around LA. But they're not really recommending you. They're recommending your money.
Meet people, then take them to lunch and ask their advice. People like being treated to food and they like giving advice. They don't like reading, but if you buy them enough food sometimes they'll offer.
If meeting people is hard, lower your sights. Meet people who aren't necessarily more connected than you. Some of them will turn out to be more connected than you.
Contact is a two-way thing. A list of names is no use to you if no one on it has any idea who you are, and you've no shared past. Networking means doing stuff - make a short, stage a play, submit to a festival, join a workshop - and meeting people as you go. And not just seeking out the 'useful' ones, either. Do what you do and let fate sort out that part of it.
Networking isn't just acquiring names and phone numbers in your cell phone. It's forging real connections, with people that have faith in your abilities.
Increasing your network can be done in a lot of different ways (going to screenwriter/film/TV events, working in the TV industry as a PA or assistant, going to film school), but it's something YOU have to do. You can't buy someone else's network, because that's not how it works. It's not a one-size-fits-all hat.
Here is a great article on networking properly by Ellen Sandler and Kathie Fong Yoneda.
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