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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 seconds Simon Wright: I’m Simon Wright. I’m a Talent Manager at Viacom International Studios in London. My job is to find people to make TV programmes for Channel 5, for MTV, for Comedy Central, for Nickelodeon, and some other broadcasters as well. So building my professional network, I initially started off with LinkedIn. I would connect with different groups on the different professional groups that I was interested in. Then I moved to kind of Twitter. And I talk more with people within the industry. On the back of going to events and stuff I connect with people on Twitter and on LinkedIn, as well.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds I started writing a blog about breaking into the television industry, as well, so I started posting more on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well, and that kind of brought me to the attention of various different people, as well, you know, whether that was from a training perspective, or a TV perspective, or just people looking to break into the industry. And that was really helpful. I think actually if you’re putting something out there about yourself, I think that really helps you connect with people. So, for me, it wasn’t just a passive use of social media.

Skip to 1 minute and 17 seconds I wasn’t just liking stuff and commenting, as I was also creating stuff myself that I felt was important, that I could share with other people, some hints and tips about kind of getting into the TV industry and the media industry, as well, which, again, opened me up to lots of different people as well, which is fantastic.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds Building up your social network on social media can seem to be quite tricky. But, actually, I think it’s about connecting with people that you’re interested in. I think it’s also not necessarily going for the most high profile people, the most senior people, because they’re not necessarily the people that are going to get your foot in the door. It’s about interesting people, maybe it’s connecting with peers or people the next level up from yourself. It’s about recognising the work that they do. It’s about talking about the content that they’re creating on social media, as well. So you form a natural bond with them.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 seconds And then it’s kind of following on from that and going to events, or attending webinars, and just connecting with like-minded individuals that want to do what you want to do with your career, as well. And it has to feel quite organic I think to be authentic. Also be positive about what they’ve been doing. People love being flattered. And often that doesn’t really happen. And if you talk to people, saying “I really liked your work on that particular programme, or when you did this, I thought that was really empowering, and I’m trying to kind of break into this industry, and I just really welcome your advice on how you did that”, because I think everybody loves to give advice.

Skip to 2 minutes and 53 seconds And if you’re constantly just going “I want to break into this industry, I’m looking for a job”, it feels like the other person is not really gaining anything from it.

Skip to 3 minutes and 5 seconds I think when you’re connecting with people online, it has to feel natural. So talk to them about stuff that they’ve posted online. Talk to them about their career. If they are speaking at an event or they’ve written an article about something, talk to them about that and why that has inspired you, and why you’re passionate about working in that particular industry. And I think, from an employer’s perspective, it just shows me that somebody has done their homework and that they’re really passionate about working for that particular company, for the company that I work in, and they’re taking it seriously, as well.

Skip to 3 minutes and 43 seconds I think when you’ve met somebody in person, it’s great to kind of maintain that network over social media. I think there’s nothing wrong with contacting the day after, saying “it was great to meet you. I really enjoyed our chat. Thanks for your advice. It’d be great to kind of keep in touch, if that’s OK with you”, that’s perfectly fine. Maintaining that relationship over time, I think, connect with them when you’ve got changes in your career, when you’ve developed new skills, or you’ve got a new role. Don’t make it all about just when you’re looking for work, as well. I think it has to be something that feels a little bit more natural.

Skip to 4 minutes and 14 seconds Also, contact them when they’ve had an achievement, or when their company has done something big, or whether it’s a new product, or a new TV show, or just something interesting that’s going on. Acknowledge that that’s going on in their life, and I think people find that really positive.

Skip to 4 minutes and 33 seconds I think to kind of keep up that professional network, just keep at it, be positive, be strategic, connect to people for a reason. Don’t always aim for the most senior person. Connect with your peers, because you never know what situation you’re going to be in or they’re going to be in. And you can help each other out. I think most people get jobs from people that are their peers, rather than CEOs of companies. So I think that’s also useful, as well. But just keep at it. Enjoy it. Find out more information, be inquisitive, and just connect naturally, and I think you’ll have a good time.

Making connections

So far you’ve been thinking about your own professional network and what you could do to build or develop it.

In this video, Talent Manager Simon Wright talks about how to create and sustain a professional network online, and how this can help build your career.

Do you agree?

Could you follow any similar steps to Simon? Share your ideas and reflections with other learners in the Comments section.

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This video is from the free online course:

Create a Professional Online Presence

University of Leeds