How to Network on Social Media
July 26, 2019
A big mistake writers can make is coming on either as too strong, or as desperate to make connections, particularly on social media. Early screenwriters tend to think they just need to get the right person to read their script — no matter what that takes — and end up trampling over proper etiquette in the rush to get eyes on their pages. Or, they think they have to ruthlessly “network” in a way that feels gross, artificial, and rushed; like it’s all a game of who can use who for what ends.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ve been fortunate enough to land two writing columns, three screenwriting assignments, and a sci-fi consulting gig (in addition to building my mailing list and clientele) due to my own social media relationships. I can confidently say networking is a skill worth cultivating.
Here’s how to approach networking on social media as a way of building quality, long-term connections.
Start with your interests
If you’re first venturing into social media, begin with what you’re personally interested in. On Twitter for example, try hashtags like #scriptchat, #writingcommunity, and #amwriting to get involved in conversations about screenwriting and writing. Look for other hashtags posted along with those and follow them like a breadcrumb trail to discover new topics and communities you might be interested in.
On other social platforms, seek out groups to join that concentrate on your areas of interest. You might start with screenwriting groups and expand outward from there, though you don’t have to exclusively devote yourself to screenwriting. If you have a brand or area of expertise, for example, look for topics and groups around those, too.
Once you’re on a social platform and following topics or have joined groups, watch, listen and learn before you jump in with advice and requests for favors. Even once you do know how things work, you’ll want to go easy on both of those, regardless! Watch what other people are talking about. Notice what appeals to you, and what doesn’t. Pay attention to who the leaders are, and why. Look for what you might want to emulate, and what you might want to avoid.
Once you have a sense of what’s happening around a topic or in a group, look for ways to contribute and be helpful.
- Share or retweet content you think is insightful, valuable and interesting. You can share thoughts and insights of your own about why you think it’s useful, or add something you’ve learned that’s relevant.
- Comment on and celebrate others’ successes. It’s quick and easy to add a “Way to go!” when you see a fellow writer having a good day and it feels good to the person on the receiving end. They’ll be more likely to celebrate your successes, too, when they come.
- Participate in conversations where you can contribute useful information. Share a link to an article on the topic, add a comment about your own personal experience, or find another way to chip in something that elevates the conversation. For example, “Ooh, I just saw a useful article about this, here’s the link” or “when I was in this situation, I found that I had to…”
As you get to know and resonate with a topic or group, you’ll notice that specific people stand out to you; people you’d like to build a relationship with. In that case, keep talking. Just as you would IRL (in real life), strike up a conversation. Add them as a friend or follow them. Send them a quick private note, asking a question about their work, offering a way you might be helpful to them, or inviting them for a virtual coffee date.
Nurture your relationships
If you have a specific industry professional you’re interested in working with, start small, and do what you can to build a positive, social relationship with the person. Allow any possibilities for working together to grow naturally out of your relationship. And be patient.
After building a relationship with my editor at ScriptMag on social media, I then reached out to ask her if I might pick her brain by phone for a few minutes about promoting my online business. We had a lovely conversation and one thing led to another — including the column I began writing for ScriptMag.
Similarly, I earned three writing gigs by connecting with and building relationships with people I’d initially met on social media. First, I got to know them by socializing and interacting with them around topics of shared interest, and our relationships developed from there.
An important rule of thumb is to be professional and stay away from negativity. As you can see, professional writing jobs can grow out of social media interactions, which means that you always, always, always want to put your best foot forward when you’re on social media. Don’t say negative things about the industry. Instead, be constructive and thoughtful, even when you have something you want to critique. Your wisdom will speak volumes about the kind of person you are and be much more attractive to people who might want to work with you.
What about A-listers?
Some industry pros, like A-list actors or directors, are extremely unlikely to interact with you directly on social media. You’re much better off building relationships with people around them or connected to them (like lesser-known producers or managers) and seeing what happens. Keep your attention on real relationship building based on shared interests however, and you never know what might happen.
Your Weekend Writer’s Assignment
If you’re on social media already, who are you being there? Are you being your best, professional self? Think about how you focus on building real, lasting relationships with people to build a true interconnected support network for yourself and your writing.
Got Questions You Want Answered?
After working with hundreds of writers over the last seven years, writing coach and Called to Write Founder Jenna Avery has answers for you about how to balance your life and your screenwriting, trust yourself more as writer, fulfill your calling to write, and more. Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Jenna’s online form at https://calledtowrite.com/final-draft and she may choose your question to answer anonymously in a future article.
Written by: Jenna AveryJenna Avery is a screenwriter who specializes in sci-fi action and space fantasy, and her most recent project is a post-apocalyptic coming-of-age story for a Canadian producer-director. Jenna is also a writing coach and the founder of Called to Write, where she has helped hundreds of writers overcome procrastination, perfectionism, and resistance so they can get their writing onto the page and into the world where it belongs. Jenna writes about writing and fulfilling your creative calling at calledtowrite.com, writes for ScriptMag and Final Draft, and teaches at Script University. Download Jenna’s free guidebooks for writers, including “How to Choose Your Next Book (or Script!)” when you join her mailing list at https://www.calledtowrite.com/mailing-list