Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Efficient favorinepotism

I don't normally just post pointers to other blogs (I like to offer original content and maintain a select blogroll), but I like this post from LA Casting Director Bonnie Gillespie.

What initially grabbed me was this quotable nugget:
"That, in short, is why people who like to work together like to work together. Call it favoritism. Call it nepotism. Call it a closed network. What it is is an efficient, familiar, easier way of doing business when every second counts (and costs a bundle)."
In a nutshell, a great summary of personal and professional dynamics -- People like to work with people they like, and time is money.

A lot of the post resonated with me for several reasons. Bonnie touches on research, active listening, confidence, authenticity, and other topics that fall pretty close to where I live, and, frankly, are staples of good business networking, regardless of vertical market. (For more on my take on authentic networking, see this previous post of mine -- one of my most read and most republished.)

You've probably heard, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." I actually think it's "what you know and it's who you know".

It can be pretty frustrating to lose out on a gig or a job because they auditioned or hired someone they knew, rather than you. But it's a great thing when you're the person they know.

I'm sure we've all wanted to instant chemistry with someone at some point or another. Think of that personal or professional contact that you really wanted to get to know better, after a "non-sexual professional flirtation" (Bonnie's words) interaction.

It's not like you can force chemistry, or this "relational shorthand" thing Bonnie talks about -- no matter how much you want to. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Here's a quick positive and negative example from me.

On the positive side, I've always felt like in order to be "full", I need a complete set of mentor relationships around me. These can be on the relationship, spiritual, professional, creative, personal, or hobby side of life (or best, all of them). That means I actively seek out mentoring more junior folks, hanging around peers that encourage me and hold me accountable on what I can do, and meeting with someone who mentors me.

I met a guy who talked about things he struggled with that I struggle with. He showed video clips from and talked about my same favorite movies. He was a comic book fanatic. He was a toy appreciator. He was a small business entrepreneur. He was in life where I wanted to be in 25 years (with the important stuff; not money or recognition or any of the transients).

So I asked him to be my mentor. Thankfully, he said yes, and we've been meeting formally, seeing movies, and going to things like Comic-Con for almost 7 years.

On the negative example, there's a writer whose work I really like. Later I ran across his bio and some of his Web postings, and saw he had been reading, watching and listening to some of the exact same stuff at the exact same time I was (William Shatner, Johnny Cash, Death Cab for Cutie, Brian Vander Ark, Sandman, the Firefly boxed set, Batman the Animated Series, and so on).

I thought, "This guy's a lot like me -- a professional creative with great stuff of his own inspired by some of the same stuff I am; I want to know him."

I met him at a professional conference. He didn't know I was an actor, and he spent the entire time during a panel badmouthing actors. Not only was he vitriolic, the stuff he said wasn't opinionated -- it was false (and he was disrespectful of the panel members' time).

For a bunch of reasons, I still wanted to work with him, and with his company, so I hit him up for work (my clients know I generally introduce myself in creative ways). I then found he was making fun of my submission and deriding me within his company.

That's unfortunate by itself -- it dis-incents me from wanting to work with him -- but worse, because he's been unknowingly badmouthing me with people with whom I do have good rapport (which is how I know), which hurts him within his own company. I feel bad for him.

To be fair, I know I've probably been a version of an "unapproachable chemistry guy". I've received feedback in the past that I'm so focused and making so many things happen in the business world, or being so passionate and black and white with things like beating my "do the right thing" drum, it can be a bit intimidating to folks who don't get the chance to know me more personally. Because I care about improving as a person, that's feedback I take pretty seriously, and look for ways to to improve how I interact with folks in those contexts.

And there are some relationships (business and professional) where the chemistry just isn't there, for any number of reasons.

Anyway, those are some thoughts from me. But check out Bonnie's full post over at The Actors Voice.

Huh, I snuck some original content in there, anyway. ;-)

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