Wednesday, May 30, 2012
WORK IT, BITCH! A Gay Boy's Guide to Kick-Ass Networking
A lot of people are often impressed by how I network. While I won't brag about much, I will allow myself some credit on my art of bringing people together. Some of my biggest accomplishments in the past few years have shocked even me both as they were happening, and in hindsight.
I've brought international pop stars to my events, world-renown porn stars to my parties. I've been instrumental in some pretty big things in basically every industry.
And now, I'm going to teach you how to do it, too. Why? Because the world gets better with networking, and I'm not convinced that people who teach others how to network are teaching them the right things.
Allow me to give you a few tips on networking... or, as I prefer to call it, making Big Shit happen...
1. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU
So many people believe that networking has to involve them in some way. Let me debunk this right now. It is my opinion that networking is all about bringing powerful people together to make Big Shit happen.
For example, just the other day, I influenced the cover of a very popular magazine. How? I brought my friend, a pro photographer for the magazine, together with the owner of an internationally renown porn site. Where do I fit into this? I don't. I will probably get zero or less credit.
Guess what? It don't matter. The fact that Big Shit is going to happen... and that I played a role in it... is enough for me.
So think in this direction: who do you know? What potent combinations can you make between your contacts? What introductions can you make?
Every day I am networking other people together. Writers and artists. Pop stars and producers. Promoters and go-go boys. It doesn't matter.
Why doesn't it matter? Because I will benefit where it matters: these powerful people will remember that it was me who brought them together. They will introduce me to other powerful people who I can then network together in the future. They will come back to me when they have exclusive offers or other crazy ideas. And I will help them again.
2. DO FREE FAVORS
A lot of my powerful friends love me because they know they can depend on me. Last week the producer of a Provincetown musical approached me because he needed a specific type of cast member. The week before, a film director came to me with a casting call. The week before that, the editor of a major international gay magazine hit me up.
Why? Because they know that I'll post a casting call or announcement on all of my social networks for them. Why? Because I have fun doing it.
And, again, what's MY benefit? It's secondary. What's most important is that the role gets filled or the photo shoot gets models.
But the SIDE EFFECT is a sweet one. My crowd, followers, and fans see that I am their exclusive hook-up. I am the guy who knows when a film is looking first. They realize that sometimes, going through me saves them a lot of applications, auditions, tryouts, and letter-writing. My fan base grows because of this.
And the powerful people? Well they see that I can deliver what they need, when they need it. When I posted the casting call for the Provincetown musical earlier this week, I delivered to the directing team a total of 100 perfect potential performers. I am pretty sure they'll come back to me again next time they need something. And I will be happy to rally the troops again.
3. HAVE INTEGRITY
I don't advertise, talk up, market, promote, or support anything I don't 100% believe in. Sure, you could offer me money to tell my audience to buy your widget or wodget and I could do it. But if your wodget or widget is a flaming piece of elephant dung... what good does that do any of us?
For you, now you have pissed off customers complaining on the internet (bad). And me? Well, that means less people trust me. Justin Luke sells out, and cannot be depended on. My integrity is shot, and my reach is jeopardized.
Consider this when YOU network. Be sure YOU can get behind it. Because YOU will have to answer for it. Don't make bad connections. Make smart ones. Because every connection you make, every word you utter, becomes part of your permanent record.
4. DON'T THINK OF IT AS NETWORKING
Networking is a shitty word. It's a self-serving action you get taught in business classes at school. Fuck networking. Reframe it.
You're making good connections between powerful people. You're making Big Shit happen. The benefits you get MAY come, or they MAY not. But this is karma, people. You're doing good for the sake of doing good. You're empowering creation. That's reward enough.
And, that way, if you DON'T get rewarded, you won't be upset. Because you never did it for reward in the first place.
5. FUCK YOUR NAME
Think of everything in layers. For example, I created a group called GG20 (Gorgeous Gay and Twenty-Something). I then created a viral video featuring the members. Could I have announced it as JUSTIN LUKE'S GROUP GG20 PRESENTS?
Sure. But why? For the name credit? It's fleeting. It's not worth it at all. Instead I posted it as THE BOYS OF GG20 PRESENT. The second the video went live, the group experienced a surge in membership.
Did a number of the members enter the group to discover I created and run it? Sure. Maybe. So what? It's not about that. The project was about unity. Having fun. Increasing membership. By sacrificing my name and any potential "fame bump," I created a fun and viral video and a great activity for the group's members.
Selflessness is key, everyone. YOU are not important. If you put enough good out into the world, and point the eyes and ears of the audience to the right thing, you'll definitely catch some of the stardust. But don't be greedy. Don't be a pig. Keep your head on straight and do what's smart, and right.
If you tell someone TOO MANY things... or ask them to take TOO MANY actions, they'll ultimately do nothing at all, and you lose. If I said "Watch this video, join this group, follow me on Twitter!" Chances are none of those things would have happened. Keep this in mind. Keep it simple. Remember the audience... and give 'em what they want.
6. REWARDS WILL COME
It's just the way the universe works, friends. I helped a new friend with casting some projects he was doing for fun, and because I liked him. I learned a few days later that he actually has a "referral fee". I will be making money. And a good deal of it. For the work I did. I never did it for this reason, and the benefit came. Because I was expecting nothing, the benefit was even sweeter.
But you must remember: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. Trust me. You'll get yours. Word will spread. Fans will increase. Viewers will increase. Your network will expand. But it's not about that. That's just the frosting.
And the sky's the limit. I have gotten some pretty baller, unexpected boosts and benefits from the networking and support that I provide. And, like I said, they're THAT MUCH greater because I'm not doing what I do for personal benefit.
7. IT GROWS!
One of the best benefits from this method of networking is growth. And what gay man doesn't like it when things grow? Your fans and followers will grow as more people learn that you've got the hookup. This larger audience will attract more powerful people, who see you've got a large and listening audience. They offer you bigger things, which you can in turn offer to more powerful people, all the while your audience grows and grows.
Are you seeing how this works? Think of it as two ladders, side-by-side, stretching on forever. But I'm not just counseling you to continue climbing. No, you aren't USING people. You're all helping each other. So, as you clear a set of rungs, you're grabbing those rungs and putting them in a sack, and bringing them along with you as you continue climbing.
Everyone wins, including you.
8. HAVE YOUR BABE MOMENT
In the classic childrens' film, Babe, the farmer turns to the talking CGI pig towards the end of the film and says both sagely and wondrously: "That'll do, pig. That'll do."
I'm not calling you fat. But I AM saying that you need to take reward from ALL that you do. Knowing a magazine cover will come to be because of your meddling, or a writer has met an agent that may publish him, or a dance number will look fabulous because you hooked the troupe up with a costume designer.
These are your Babe Moments. Savor them. Enjoy them. You've earned them. And they're sweeter than any strip of bacon.
So good luck, friends. I am looking forward to the partnerships you will pull up out of the ether of nothingness. The shows that will go on because of your help.
Because, if we all help each other out, the rewards will be felt by everyone. And there is NOTHING in the world that is better than that.
- Justin Luke