Self-Promotion and Networking For Introverts

self promotion and networking for introverts

Recently on the blog I laid out some strategies for self-promotion for people who were reluctant promoting themselves and their work. It proved to be one of our most popular blog posts thus far. Initially, I had thought about discussing what to do when it came to self-promotion and networking if you were also an introvert, but decided to tackle that separately…hence this post.

My name is Lynnaire MacDonald…and I am an introvert. Introversion gets a bad rap sometimes. People mistake it for shyness or think that introverts are unable to socialise effectively- not true! In fact, when people meet me they’re amazed when I say I’m an introvert. Introverts think deeply, have rich inner worlds and yes, when they need to they can shine on the stage, do the TED talk and show the world what they’ve got. You can see the definition of introversion here, but the real meat of it is that introverts are energized and drained in ways that are different to their extrovert peers. Introverts are energized by introspection and solitary activities, whereas they are easily drained by group activities and loud, busy environments.

Does that mean that being an introvert is a barrier to doing things like promoting your work, or attending networking events? Not at all. The key to doing so in a way that keeps you from feeling drained or overwhelmed is by having a few strategies up your sleeve. These are some of my tried and tested strategies:

Choose networking events and conferences wisely: as much as introverts would prefer to network with people via e-mail and social media, networking events or conferences are inevitable. The key is choosing events and conferences wisely. What do I mean by this? In my experience, small-talk can be draining, but really focused conversations about a topic are energizing for me and I get the most out of them. So, for instance, a general women in business-type networking event would be draining but going to a filmmaking networking evening or conference brings out the best in me because I can talk about the minutiae of filmmaking with the people I meet.

Have a conference or networking ‘wingperson’: sometimes there will be conferences or networking events where you don’t know anyone, and that can be unavoidable. But if you are attending an event and know someone else who is attending, think about asking them to be your ‘wingperson’ if it’s the first time you’ve attended that event. I had this happen last year at my first Big Screen Symposium. A friend and mentor was also attending and kindly introduced me to other people. This year I know I can attend the Symposium and I will see more than a few familiar faces.

Don’t be afraid to make an e-mail introduction: email introductions are fine, too, as long as each e-mail is genuine. No copy and paste, please! I have to do this often in my line of work so I’m used to doing this, but if you’re feeling a bit reluctant to reach out, test the waters by sending out one introductory e-mail a day for 5 days. Then 2 for 5 days, and so on.

Manage your energy levels: constant interaction with people over a sustained period of time can be draining, so it’s important to manage this by taking some ‘alone time’. Whether that’s grabbing some time to sit and read a book for a few minutes, or going for a solo walk, you need that time to recharge.

Know your ‘voice’:  self-promotion and networking as an introvert it can be difficult but it’s not insurmountable. It’s all about finding your ‘voice’ in various situations. For instance, I use a lot of humour in social media posts. I’m not afraid to say that something is shameless self-promotion, or use a cringe-worthy pun or ‘Dad joke’. Finding your ‘voice’ can be your superpower, because you know what works for you and what doesn’t. For instance, you won’t find me gushing over someone. I physically can’t do it- I find it draining and inauthentic. But I can connect with someone via social media over a shared interest or opinion. I once bonded with a fellow PR person over the UK version of Wallander (we had differing opinions on pickled herring, however).

Being an introvert is not a personality flaw. In fact, tapping into your ability as an introvert can help you both at work and in your personal relationships.

 

How Blogging Can Assist With Promoting Your Indie Film or Webseries

047

In the 21st century we tend to take things like blogging and social media for granted. It’s part of our everyday landscape. It’s easy enough to check your social media feeds and read a blog you love about a topic you’re passionate about. Back in the late 1990s when the Internet was starting to become mainstream blogging and social media were twinkles in the eye of their creators.

Blogging as we know it today didn’t exist, but there were websites which served as proto-blogging/ social media platforms, like Open Diary (which is now a subscription-only service) and Live Journal. You could share your thoughts and feelings with people around the globe, build up an audience…well, you get the picture. We now do this with social media and via blogs. These days, for every interest or topic there is a blog to match, including film.

Now, as you may already know, we’ve talked at length about how social media can assist with promotion of your film, but what about blogs? What benefits are to be gained by blogging regularly, and how can they translate into growing your audience for your films and filmmaking? This month we’ll be answering these questions and giving you some suggestions to help you create great content that people will not only enjoy but will share with their networks.

So, how can blogging be beneficial for promoting your indie film or webseries?

1. You can provide your fans with filmmaking updates: the beauty of blogging is that there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to the content you create, and updating your fans and audience is one way of producing great content. It can often be used instead of, or in tandem with, an email mailing list (but we’ll talk more about that in later posts).

2. It provides another way to reach and connect with your target audience: blogging can provide another piece of the audience building and publicity puzzle in conjunction with social media and earned and/or paid traditional media coverage. Not everyone likes or uses social media, so this is another way to reach hearts and minds online.

3. It can be beneficial when it comes to SEO of your website: if you choose to have a blog on your website as opposed to solely having a stand-alone blog, your posts can assist with site views and engagement through the tags, categories, blog titles and excerpts you choose to use for each post. Prior to having a blog on the Film Sprites PR website it was just a website, and once I began blogging regularly the site saw a huge upswing in visits which also culminated in more queries about PR and digital marketing services and more clients!

4. You can let people in on your filmmaking process: one thing I’ve seen filmmakers do very successfully with blogging is they let their audience in on their process. Just as behind-the-scenes photos and videos give audiences a tangible taste of your filmmaking, blogging can be a longer form of this. There are endless subjects to write about, and if you’re a keen writer and love sharing your process, inspiration and ideas then blogging is a very valuable tool for you to consider.

Stay tuned for our next post as we focus on blogging for filmmakers in February!

Looking After Yourself As a Creative or Entrepreneur: A Self-care Guide

410

A few years ago, just as Film Sprites PR was starting to bear fruit, I got sick. As in, really sick.

Initially, I picked up the worst flu I’d experienced in my entire life. On top of that, I also ended up with a chest infection, and as an asthmatic a chest infection is not something to take lightly. Unfortunately, it coincided with a visit from my brother-in-law and my niece. They came down from Wellington to stay with us and do some sight-seeing. But my illness was so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed most of the time. I think I saw my niece and my brother-in-law a total of 4 times in the space of a week. At one point, my niece (who was 8 at the time) was showing me the photos they took at the Antarctic Centre. She turned to me and said, “I hope you can come with us next time.”

That was a moment that broke my heart. I actually still tear up when I think about it. I had been working every hour under the sun, skipping weekends, skipping meals, and my immunity was so low that when I was working at my then day job at the local hospital I managed to pick up the flu. My doctor was pretty stern about the situation when I next saw her. Being a big supporter of my career goals, she told me in no uncertain terms that looking after myself had to be a priority, because all of the efforts I was putting into building a business would come to nothing if something more serious happened with my health.

Since then, I’ve taken her advice very seriously, and as a result looking after myself during contracts has been a priority that is built into my daily schedule.

I know what it’s like as a creative or entrepreneur. You’re so passionately driven to achieve your goals and make your mark on the world that sometimes you make incredible sacrifices which could end up impacting your physical and mental well-being in the long-run. Certainly, if you’re on a film set and doing a night shoot, or working a 12 hour stretch on something urgent it can be hard to slot self-care into your schedule, but it can be done. None of the advice below is new, or complicated- it’s straight-forward, no-nonsense, and you will be aware of these strategies anyway. Now’s the time to take notice of them and make them a priority!

daria-nepriakhina-340852-min

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Yes, you DO need to eat

It’s so easy to skip meals, ignore when you’re hungry and go through the day with an empty stomach, but your bod pays the price big-time. In order for your body (and especially your brain!) to function efficiently, you need to keep your energy levels up. If you’re the type of person who finds themselves skipping meal breaks on set, at the office or during conference sessions so you can get in an additional 15 to 30 minutes of answering messages/emails done, try and break this habit. 3 meals, 2 snacks, lots of water.

And don’t live your life out of a vending machine or your hotel mini-fridge, either! I was a shocker for grabbing a soda and a chocolate bar at 3:00pm in order to try and get over the afternoon slump. When I’m travelling domestically, I take little pouches of instant oatmeal with me, as well as packets of trail mix. Another snack I love is Tasti’s Smooshed Wholefood Balls, especially when I’m craving a chocolatey hit.

Make exercise your BFF

I won’t lie…I loathe most exercise activities. I do. I have to force, cajole and bribe myself to get my gym gear on and break a sweat. However, as much as I hate it, I know that it has a huge amount of benefits that will also benefit the way I run my business. As a busy creative or entrepreneur, it can be really hard to slot regular exercise into your busy schedule, but it can be done. Even incidental exercise has its benefits. Think about investing in a standing desk, suggest going for a brief walking meeting instead of meeting with someone at a café or in your office, or schedule in a block of time at the gym when you know you will commit to those sessions.

In my case, because I’m currently having to do a lot of desk-based work, I have made it a point to get in a 30-minute workout on DVD early in the morning before I start my working day. In addition to that, I stop every hour on the hour, put on a video from The Fitness Marshall on YouTube. One of the benefits of working from my home office means I can do that without looking like a complete idiot! See what works for you. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you DO IT.

les-jay-307974-min

Photo by Les Jay on Unsplash

Try meditation and mindfulness practices

I say without reservation that meditation has been a game-changer for me, both personally and professionally. I have been meditating every day for the past 5 years, and it has allowed me to cut through stress, get in touch with my intuition on a daily basis, and is one of the most important self-care practices I undertake personally. I went from being a worried, anxious, stress-head to someone who can take on a strenuous workload and still remain calm and happy. When you’re able to get in touch with your intuition through meditation and mindfulness, it means you will be better able to assess opportunities. You will be able to feel in your gut when something isn’t right, and take action as appropriate.

Meditation isn’t hard, and it doesn’t have to be complicated (in fact, it shouldn’t be). Hey, there’s even an app for it now! Try the meditation and mindfulness app Headspace. You can also do guided visualisation meditations to assist you with your goals. There’s a wealth of meditations available via iTunes and Spotify to suit a range of goals. You don’t have to have your butt on a meditation cushion for hours on end to get benefits- even small bites of meditation and mindfulness really help with your peace of mind and wellbeing.

Do a bit of something you love every single day

I know what you’re going to say: “but I love my business/film/gig, I’m doing that every day!”. I know. I hear you, I am passionate about what we do here at Film Sprites PR, but it’s not healthy to make it the be-all, end all. You should have other things in your life that you are passionate about, that give you pleasure and that you enjoy doing. It also gives you social currency with your friends and at conferences or by the water cooler. You don’t want to lament the fact you would love to do something you enjoy but don’t have the time for it!

Confession: for a short period of time, I didn’t go to the movies. I would attend screenings when I had invites or passes, but otherwise I was reluctant to go to the cinema. And this was a very bad thing for someone who runs a publicity and digital marketing consultancy for independent film and whose greatest passion is film and who lives for the experience in the cinema. Even my partner was concerned. “You used to love going to the movies,” he said, “but now I can’t convince you to go.” We currently live a 5-minute walk away from our local cinema, and it still seemed like a Herculean struggle. That’s when I knew I had to make sure I wasn’t working myself into the ground and losing my passion. After taking steps to get a healthy balance back, I’m now back to enjoying what I love, which also means that passion for film also benefits everyone I work with.

But it also meant becoming re-engaged with other things I loved to do, and making sure I integrated them into my life each day. So now, that means things like enjoying a chapter (or two…or three) of a good book just before bed, creating a digital art journal layout, or watching something good on Netflix (speaking of Netflix…how GOOD is Mindhunter??? I’m completely obsessed!).

Even if you’re passionately reaching for a goal, don’t lose sight of the rest of your life, because you’ve got a full life to live!

Why There’s No Such Thing As A Wasted Opportunity

nowastedopportunity

Many years ago, I trained to be a primary school teacher*. I was fresh out of high school, the world was big and uncertain and I chose to go to Teacher’s College. On the first day in our first class, our lecturer got us to introduce ourselves to one another. There were so many bright, bubbly people who were excited to be undertaking the journey. Some had waited their entire lives to become a teacher.

And…then there was me.

I couldn’t tell you why I wanted to be a teacher. I think partly it was parental pressure, partly trying to suppress my real desire to work in the film industry. So I persisted with this path for 3 years. I did well with the academic work, my teaching placements also went well. I was one teaching placement and a university paper away from graduating when I decided that this really wasn’t for me.

I felt like a complete and utter failure. My parents were supportive of my decision to leave, but I knew they were disappointed as well. In hindsight, it was the right thing to do- schools need teachers who are 100% passionate about what they do and can instill that into their teaching. The classmates I had whose eyes lit up on the first day and had wanted to teach from a very young age were exactly what the education system desperately needed (and subsequently they have gone on to have very successful teaching careers).

But what at first seemed like a complete loss was actually a gift. I may not have gained my teaching degree, but along the way I gained valuable skills which transferred over into everything I did subsequently. Even now, the skills I gained all those years ago are appropriate for the work I do in publicity. There’s not a lot of difference between the research, planning, implementation and review of a lesson plan and the research, planning, implementation and review of a publicity campaign. Teaching taught me how to be adaptable, to manage my time effectively and work with a wide range of people. Better yet, when I did a Bachelor of Arts a few years later I was able to cross-credit some of my teaching courses over into my BA and ended up completing my degree in 2.5 years instead of 3.

I firmly believe that there is no such thing as a wasted opportunity. Even in your bitterest disappointments, you’ll find a diamond in the ashes. You might have to wait a while to find that diamond (because let’s face it- disappointments are awful and you might ruminate for a while), but it’s there. If you’re in the indie film industry, you’ll know that sometimes productions fall through, you might not get the role, or locations that were initially viable at the start of production are taken off the table suddenly. None of this is a waste of time. A production that stalls or doesn’t go through to post is valuable experience. The role you didn’t get gave you the opportunity to audition and put yourself in front of an agent and director and put yourself on their radar for future projects. The location you had your heart set on that was made unavailable may open the way for a better location.

A few years ago I spoke to a filmmaker whose short was crowdfunding on Kickstarter. With Kickstarter, it’s a case of “all or nothing” for funding, and the campaign didn’t look like it was going to reach 100%. The filmmaker was incredibly positive about things. “OK, we’re not going to get the funding. That’s fine,” he said to me, “but having our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter meant we were able to gain positive awareness around our campaign, so we’ve got a solid grounding for the next steps”.  He subsequently used the data from the campaign to look at what worked, what didn’t and what they could do in the future to ensure they had a successful campaign.

Currently, I am transitioning from working for myself to potentially joining a new PR team and that has meant sending out a lot of applications and getting in touch with agencies. I’m not worried about rejections, because connecting with agencies is another opportunity to network, and at the very least they are aware of me and what I have been doing as a freelancer. I chose to look at this undertaking as being a positive one, no matter what. Eventually, there will be the right position and it may come from somewhere completely unexpected. You can never underestimate the power of networking- there are times when someone will know of another person who is looking for exactly the skillset you possess and can put you in touch.

So if you receive a rejection e-mail, you don’t get a callback or things go kaput on a production- find the gift in it. There’s always some experience or skill you have gained during the process that can be of use later on, you just have to find it.

*= for those of you who are American, primary school is the equivalent of elementary school.

Want To Give Up On Your Dream? Read This

dontgiveupcat-min

Trying to achieve any kind of dream is hard work, and seeing progress is the fun part. But there are times along the way when you may feel like chucking it in: the project stalls, you can’t see any forward momentum, or you’ve faced a massive disappointment. It’s completely natural to feel all the feels and want to give up. And yes, I’ve been there! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to give up. I’m still here to tell the tale, though, and right now I’m moving further towards my next goal more than ever before.

One of the reasons I was compelled to write this post was because, admittedly, I did have a recent period where I was ready to give up, and thankfully I didn’t. I wished, however, that someone had been able to give me the sort of pep talk I’m about to give you…and thus this blog post was born. So here’s some of the things I’ve learned about wanting to give up, and how to reset it and move forward:

Acknowledge that you want to give up…but do something about it: I think we’re conditioned to want to eliminate all the bad stuff and just be happy. But putting on a brave face can sometimes be worse than if we faced the issue head-on. So you want to give up? Acknowledge how you’re feeling. Say it if you have to. And then ask yourself why you want to give up.

Here’s an idea: Set a timer, grab a piece of paper and a pen (or open a document on your tablet/computer) and write for 5 minutes. Don’t judge it, just let whatever comes through come through for you. After 5 minutes, look at what you wrote down. Is there anything on the list that you can do something about so you don’t quit?

Let me give you an example: let’s say you want to give up on your dream of working for yourself, and one of the things you wrote down was that you can’t get enough time to do online courses that could help you. How can you change that? Look at the way your day is scheduled and see where you can make changes. Can you exchange a few episodes of Orange is the New Black for time dedicated to an online course? Being proactive when it comes to the things that make you want to give up can give you renewed momentum and help you to turn things around.

Never Lose Hope Graffiti

Take a break: true story- a year before Film Sprites PR came into being, I was studying, working, and networking. Not uncommon when you’re changing career, but I was so driven and determined that I took it to the extreme. I would be up until midnight, writing, networking, chasing leads, then I’d be working 8 hours in a day job the next day. Then I’d come home, pull out my textbooks, do my assignments, and subsequently continue networking again from about 9:00pm until midnight. And on and on it went. Weekends? Fugheddaboutit.

As a result, I caught a cold that turned to the worst case of bronchitis I have ever experienced. And I crashed. In fact, when my niece and her dad came down to stay with us on holiday, I couldn’t get out of bed for most of the time. She would show me souvenirs from her day trips and say: “I hope you can come next time”….and it broke my heart. There will be times when you do have to amp up your efforts, but don’t sacrifice your physical and mental wellbeing for it. Sometimes, when we want to give up it can be a subtle sign that what we really need is rest. Put things aside for a day, a week, a year. Have social media-free days. When you give yourself a break, regardless of the time period, chances are you are going to come back to your goal with renewed energy, vigor and inspired ideas.

Remember WHY you started: if I had to give just one piece of advice, this would be it. So often we get caught up in the minutiae of goals. Sometimes, we can seem completely adrift from what it was we wanted to do in the first place. When you’re wanting to give up, that’s the absolute best time to remember why you started. Write it down, blog about it, revisit whatever it was that inspired you to achieve your dreams and goals. Does that WHY still resonate with you? If it does, go forward bravely. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too- you might want to try the techniques above and re-evaluate or tweak your goal. Our goals change with us, because our lives change. Some dreams stay relevant, some transform and grow as we do.

It’s OK to ask for what you want: one of my favourite people in the entire world is singer/songwriter/performer Amanda Palmer. In fact, just prior to establishing Film Sprites PR I watched her TED talk The Art of Asking…which prompted me to hop on Twitter and ask filmmakers I knew if they needed publicity and digital marketing for their films (and thus Sprites was born!). Subsequent to the TED talk, Amanda wrote a brilliant book of the same name. I thoroughly recommend seeking out both, because whether you’re an artist, an entrepreneur, a filmmaker or a dreamer they are indispensable on your journey. Which brings us to our next point, in an albeit rambly way: ASK. Whether it’s reaching out to a potential mentor to help you so you don’t want to quit, or asking for volunteers to help lighten your load, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want or need.

And remember: if you want to give up on a dream or goal- that’s fine too! Ultimately, you are the best judge of what is right for you. No matter what your decision, just know that you’ve got one big supporter here.

Great Reads for Filmmakers

Great Reads for Filmmakers-min

It was the great Groucho Marx who said: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”. I’m hoping that anyone reading this post has not mastered reading inside a dog, but I think Groucho’s assessment of the magic of books is correct. And if you are an indie filmmaker, books can be a wise investment on your journey. Whether it’s technical texts or books to inspire, having a resource library at your disposal is very useful. Quite often when conversing with filmmakers, if there’s a book I know of that I think will be useful or that they will find interesting, I definitely make a recommendation. I also try and do an update on this subject on the blog as I find books that I know filmmakers, producers, people aspiring to work in the film industry, or entrepreneurs may find useful (and most importantly enjoyable).

Here’s an updated list of reading recommendations for filmmakers, people wanting to broaden their film industry knowledge base, entrepreneurs and dreamers everywhere.

Crowdfunding for Filmmakers: The Way to a Successful Film Campaign- 2nd Edition- John T. Trigonis

If you want to gain funds for your indie film via crowdfunding, this is THE book to read. John T. Trigonis knows his stuff. Filmmaker, strategist and so much more besides (check out his exceptional bio on his website), he has successfully crowdfunded his own projects, given a TEDx talk, and mentored some incredibly high-profile crowdfunding campaigns with successful results. This is the book I recommend to every single filmmaker who is about to undertake crowdfunding. It’s also an enjoyable read. Think of it as like having John sitting you down for a quick consult to make sure you’re prepped and ready to go.

Success in Film: A Guide to Funding, Filming and Finishing Independent Films- Julia Verdin and Matt Dean

This is an excellent guide for anyone getting involved in independent films in any capacity. Whether you’re a producer, director, publicist or actor, it’s a guide I thoroughly recommend, especially if you’re just starting out. It’s also a guide that will interest film-lovers who want to know more about the filmmaking process (and in particular the world of independent film). Julia and Matt detail the steps involved in independent filmmaking: from finding your script, through to creating a business plan for potential investors and/or distributors, right through to publicity and marketing of your film and the filmmaking process. It’s a dynamic and inspiring read with practical, no-nonsense advice. And it’s advice that comes from a deep well of knowledge: Julia Verdin is one of Hollywood’s leading independent producers/directors, so the knowledge comes from a wealth of experience. It’s definitely the kind of book you can read in one sitting.

Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is And What You Can Do About It- Steven Pressfield

So, why should you believe Steven Pressfield when he says nobody wants to read your sh*t? Pressfield has had the benefit of having a career that has spanned advertising, screenwriting, fiction, narrative nonfiction, and self-help. His debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, became a Dreamworks film, but it took seventeen years for his first writing cheque. He’s someone who has been ‘in the trenches’ and knows his stuff. Whether you’re writing a screenplay, aspiring to be a novelist or wanting to know how to connect with your audience authentically through your narrative, this book is excellent. You can read a sample on the Black Irish Books website.

Choose Yourself! and Reinvent Yourself!- James Altucher

Choose Yourself! and subsequently Reinvent Yourself! are two books I recommend to anyone. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, an entrepreneur, or if you’re currently striving for your goals but have nagging doubts about how things are going to pan out, these books are for you. We’re no longer living in a world where we take one job in a little cubicle for the rest of our lives. Society has changed, technology and communications have changed. These books are a rallying cry to the self-starter, the indie filmmaker, the dreamer and anyone willing to take a chance on themselves and make things happen.

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die- Steven Jay Schneider (editor), updated by Ian Haydn Smith

I’ll never forget receiving the first edition of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. I pored over it time and again until it became dog-eared, coffee stained and with a cracked spine. I would put little red ticks on the top corner of the pages of the films I had seen and aimed to see all 1001 films in the book. Unfortunately, I can’t recall how many I managed to see in that edition! Updated with each edition, film critics from around the world write magnificent entries for the films they believe require inclusion into the list. It also contains gorgeous colour photographs and vital statistics about each film. This is one resource that is always a cause for great discussion, especially when it comes to debating the merits of one film over another, or arguing for a beloved film that didn’t “make the cut” in the latest edition (pun fully intended). It’s such a gem of a book that I recommend it to every single cinephile.