Sometimes I catch myself using the word “friend” when the reality is “a friend of a friend who went to school with this person who I friended on Facebook.” And that, my internet buddies, is how I have met a lot of great people since I’ve moved to Los Angeles.
-My first play I ever did in NYC was a very odd experimental show that I only invited my best friend to—but one of the other cast members turned out to be the girl who offered me a couch to sleep on when I first moved here.
-A few weeks after moving, I started attending a group that does free weekly play readings based on the recommendation of a friend who used to live in LA.
-I have made plans to meet for coffee with people I’ve never met but shared the same acting teacher with, or we shared a mutual friend who connected us on Facebook, or we met through an alumni Facebook page for my college.
-I reconnected with a childhood friend who I had not seen in 10 years through Facebook!
I realize this blog is slowly turning into an advertisement for Facebook (You’re Welcome, Mark Zuckerberg), but what I really intend with this blog is to explore what networking means. Many people (and I’m sure I was one of them at some point) hear the word networking and think of the worst sort of ass-kissers pushing over other people in order to grasp desperately at the ankles of industry professionals like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way reaching for the toy. But what it is for me, now at least, is just making friends and honestly asking help and advice from people and paying attention and being interested in what they are doing (Facebook stalking helps with this). It’s about trust—trusting that the people you know (the kind, funny, talented, smart people) will take care of you. It’s about focusing on those people and not desperately seeking a dude in a suit who you NEED to suck up to.
There seems to be a saying in show business that it’s “Who you know” and that is always interpreted as a negative thing, but I’m learning it can be a really empowering positive. It takes the pressure off to realize it’s not about impressing and hopping over people to intensely ass-kiss one particular person. It’s really about challenging yourself as a human being not to get frazzled in trying to seek out the “right” people but to stay open and keep meeting all kinds of people and learning about them and believing that opportunities will come out of those genuine connections you make. And with technology (and yes, Facebook) it’s amazing how friendships and connections I formed in other states have still aided me here.
If success is based on “Who you know” then I feel pretty successful! A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in a seminar my acting teacher was holding with one of his old students (who happens to be an Emmy-nominated actress and lovely human being) and I was thinking—“I am so lucky to know these people and be in their company.” The best part of meeting great people is that it’s almost always safe to assume they know and can introduce you to MORE great people.
The only failure is to stop casting the net. To stop honoring the people around you in search of something better. Because it is all about who you know. Not who you wish you knew or who you hope you’ll meet someday in the distant future. But it’s about sending those friends requests out to people you know will accept them and cultivating the friendships that are blooming in your life right now.