How not to introduce yourself at a business lunch/gathering.
So. I was invited to a buffet lunch called “Media People Get-together.” To me this translated in my head as “OMG you’re cool enough to be invited to hang out with professionals now holy-shit-that’s-so-awesome!!!” I could swap business cards, and talk movies, and get freelance work, and stalk industry people, and just totally feel like a grown-up.
And then I realised. I HAVE NO BUSINESS CARDS.
The result of this realisation? Logging onto Vistaprint.com, designing a sexy little rectangle of informative cardboard, and ordering 250 of them for a total of £21.99. Score!
The cards arrived, and I strutted off to the lunch feeling like… well like a 19 year old playing grown-up (mainly due to the zit outbreak that had just occurred -_- ). But I wasn’t gonna let that stop me. I had timed my arrival very carefully: the lunch started at 12.30 but I didn’t want to be early in case I was the only/first one there (just awkward), but I didn’t want to be late (unprofessional). So how did I solve this impossible conundrum?? I strolled in at 12.34 🙂
[Btw, yes, it is worrying needlessly about every aspect of my day that achieves such great results in my early career. It is also why my doctor gives me expensive pills for stress-induced migraines. I’m gonna fit right in in Hollywood ❤ ]
I was then presented with a series of career-defining challenges:
- How to eat gracefully and network at the same time?
- What do you do when you’ve met someone before but don’t remember their name??
- How do I actually give you one of my bleeding business cards without coming across as what I truly am (insane and desperate media-loving freak) ???
Question 1: Chill. Enjoy the food – in fact I found it’s a great conversation starter. Obviously don’t talk with your mouth open or dribble down your blouse; just be normal (it is possible). And if they do that really annoying thing where they ask a question just as you’ve put a fork-full of noodles and sweet&sour chicken into your mouth…. Smile, chew quickly and use this moment to come up with a totally kick-ass response that’ll have them begging you to come work for them.
Question 2: My method was to assume they’re way to important to remember my name, and just go straight on up saying, “Hi, I’m ‘A!’ We met on that shoot when I worked in that hell-hole! How are ya?” Now this doesn’t usually lead to them telling you their name in return, but it makes them feel special and so you automatically get brownie points. What you shouldn’t do?
“OMG Hi! I remember you! You were at that lecture with Sandy Lieberson!! This is such a cool coincidence!”
Yeah. Now they know that I stalked them. Genius.
Question 3: ANYWAY POSSIBLE. DO NOT – I repeat – DO NOT let ANYONE leave that lunch without one of your cards! Geez. I mean, talk about missed-opportunity?! My tactics for business card swapping are pretty shameless; as the interesting conversation about their next idea for a feature film draws to a close, just say, “Well I’d be happy to help, here’s my card! Let me know if you need an extra pair of hands!” You gotta bite the bullet and be confident that yes, actually, I am cool enough to have one of these babies. (I learnt this as the lunch progressed. My original card-swapping bid was “Hey! I just bought my first business cards – especially for today! Here, you want one? Isn’t it pretty?”)
The best advice I can give though, is be yourself, be confident and sell, sell, SELL yourself. Another good idea is to send an email to every contact you collected, quickly remind them who you are, that is was great to meet them, maybe throw in a quick joke or something you ‘bonded’ over (hopefully) to make it more personal, and just casually add that you’re free for any work they can offer.
Yeah, so hope this helps you if you have any media get-togethers in the future!
And, uh, I have about 234 business cards left, so if you’d like one let me know! I’ll send it for free. Just comment with your name, telephone, address and email. (Note: you will be stalked)
Love ‘A’ x