Today, I attended an industry meet and greet.  A rarity for me because I tend to find these “informal” get-togethers uncomfortable, earnest, awkward, and always permeated by that unmistakable stench of desperation.  “Hi, I’m Bill Swizby!  Love your show!  I hope to one day write for a production of equally high calibre!” (subtext:  “Hi!  I live in my mother’s basement and my single daily meal usually consists of liquid cheese.  PLEASE, give me a job!”).

To be fair, there’s no shame in networking, and people who are good at meeting people tend to do well in this business, often making up for a lack of talent by having the right connections.  The sad reality is that as much as WE all loved Stargate, no one in Los Angeles really knows the show and no one in Toronto seems to care. People aren’t going to hire you if they don’t know who you are so it’s not a bad idea to put a face to name on the script and make a good impression.  My problem is that the individuals I tend to make a good impression on are the people who can’t really help me out in that regard, fellow writers or production personnel who I end up chatting with for the simple reason that…they’re fun to talk to.  This afternoon, for instance, I met a wonderful VFX guy, a lovely freelance writer, and a positively delightful coordinator who – bonus! – also happened to be a huge Stargate: Universe fan.  None of the aforementioned will help me sell a show, but they’ll all, no doubt, make great company over a few rounds.

Early on, during the scrum for seats, I did manage to flag down one network executive and had a brief and pleasant chat with her, but that was about the extent of my accomplishments on this day.  Okay, that’s not exactly true.  I managed to sit through the panel without fidgeting too much.  And I did have that big chocolate chip cookie.

I did make an effort.  Once the formalities wrapped, I stood around in five minutes increments, waiting to talk   just quickly introduce myself  say goodbye to the various network execs.  No dice.  It was like a wedding procession where you’re waiting for the groom’s drunk roommate to move along so that you can hand over your envelope.  One fellow was like a mime on crank, wide-eyed, animated, gesticulating wildly, commanding undivided attention.  Another couple, from a local production house, took a page out of the Brooklyn Nets playbook and actually boxed me out when I approached.    THEY had gotten to there first and they weren’t sharing!

So I finished my big cookie and went home.

If nothing else, today’s experience did provide me with some invaluable pointers for the next meet and greet:

#1. Sit close to the front and wear comfortable shoes so that you can outrace the other attendees to your target.

#2. The complimentary baked goods are a planned distraction on the part of your enemies.

#3. Laughing at absolutely everything anyone says is no guarantee people are going to like you.

#4. Wear something distinct that will set you apart from the crowd AND leave an impression (ie. a monocle or hip waders).

#5. Find creative ways to monopolize your target’s attention and keep your rivals at bay.  This, for instance, is a design I’m working on for next time which incorporates tip #4 as well:

℅ forums.heroesofnewerth.com (KhaosTarakhe)
℅ heroesofnewerth.com (KhaosTarakhe)

#6: Be interesting.  Or do something interesting that you can talk about on the day (ie. invent a popular app, save a life, learn to drive a rig, etc.)

#7: In the unlikely event you aren’t interesting (and can’t manufacture it), then make sure your pitch and/or script is interesting.

#8: Finally, in the unfortunate event neither you nor the project your pitching is interesting, make the best of things by stocking up on those complimentary baked goods and coffee.

36 thoughts on “March 25, 2014: Meet and Greet! And Stand and Wait!

  1. Ok those are all very good but maybe you want them to come to you. Hire some fans to come along and line up for a minute of your time. They’ll be wondering who the hell you are and come over to talk. Then you take it from there.

    Cheers, Chev

    p.s. Remember Joe, that VFX guy could have his own show in the future… look at Mark Savela

    1. Mark Savela was there and I tried to give him my resume, but someone had already gotten to him. 🙁

  2. I commend your courage Joe. There are a lot of “job fairs” up this way. Once, when between jobs I actually attended one. It went about as well as you described for your industry meet and greet. Hated it.

    2cats

  3. You could have dressed as one of the guys from the blue man group, or the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, I think you would be quite dashing, and attention getting. Just keep flashing that winning smile and eating the cookies.(choc chip,my fave) and good luck. You never know those nice people you talked with might be like an undercover boss and you just made points..
    @das, that picture is soooooo wrong, make it all go away…!

  4. I would hate going to something like that. LIquid cheese sounds better than that. I just wouldn’t go. If you want to impress, wear your black. Black slacks, black shirt, tie, shoes, belt, and black jacket. You look sharp in black and I would remember you. Also, can’t you take some small Stargate momentoes to hand out? Everybody loves free swag.

  5. I found that the best way to connect with the vips surrounded by beggars is to take a tray of snacks and offer them. Check that the appetizers are good. 😆

  6. Oh please this is an easy one! Next time take the dogs! They always get you attention. Or they always get attention. Either one would work, right? Akemi can make them little saddlebags to hold flash drives with copies of your resume and they can deliver!

  7. Hey, at least you’ve got #7 covered (the interesting script part I mean; you don’t need to worry about being uninteresting yourself).

    On the whole concept of meet and greets: I’ve never had much use for them. I’ve been at more than a few, some were even fun, but it terms of raising business they’ve never been productive for me. I’ve had more success at targeting a company directly and then working at arranging meetings with the key people that make the decisions. It’s not always successful, but it pays off a lot more often than the meet and greets (I’ve never had one of those pay off).

    Other than L.A., have you thought about other cities/states as possible places to pitch? I found the rankings chart on this page interesting:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_industry_in_Georgia_(U.S._state)

    There are more TV shows filmed in Louisiana (36) than New York (30), British Columbia (14), Ontario (16), or Georgia (13)? 😯

    I would have thought that TNT (Turner in Atlanta), would have put Georgia on top in this category versus Louisiana, but I must be missing something…tax credits maybe?

    And hey, they’ve heard of Stargate here in Calgary…well at least the one person I happened to bring it up to today did. He was a Vancouver native whose is now living in Calgary and he loved all the Stargate series.

  8. I say wear a funny hat. that way you can say, “remember me? I was the guy in the funny hat.” Also why not make up some cards with your contact info on one side, including your blog web address, and some career highlights on the other. a mini resume that is like 4X6 size. people like small stuff that is short and easy to read. One thing I do when I have to meet new people in a large group setting is I always think in advance of neutral questions I can ask them about themselves and then once I am there, and nervous, I know what to say. I even write them down so I can review if I forget. I find it better to ask people to talk about themselves or their opinions rather than talk about myself. It gets their interest for sure. You will be great!

  9. Maybe you befriend an elephant and ride said elephant into the meet and greet?

    And bring a bunch of helium balloons with your info stamped on them to hand out. Who doesn’t want a free balloon? No one!

  10. @ Airelle – Oh, it gets worse…

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v54/dasNdanger/Spring2014b_zpsd74e24d9.jpg

    On the bright side, last Monday we received 10″ of snow, which melted in 2 days. This is only about 6″ (we’re probably going to get more, but it’s melting already underneath, so the overall accumulation won’t look any different). That is one nice thing about living here – even when we get big snowstorms they usually don’t last more than a day or two, unless we get a big cold snap afterwards (as we did back in 2010). Tomorrow’s going to be windy, so all the pretty stuff on the trees will probably blow away before sunrise.

    I’m just hoping I get a snow day tomorrow. 🙂

    (I also forgot to mention that when I took that picture earlier Julien kitty bolted out the back door, and I had to chase him – barefooted – through the snow, catching him under the holly tree. Yes, I stepped on holly leaves hidden under the snow. 😛 Fortunately, I didn’t step on any sweet gum balls – those things are like stepping on mini-mace balls.)

    @ Joey – Food will be your downfall. You’re like the playful puppy that gets lured into the doggy crate by a bowl of kibbles, only to be locked up before company comes so that you can’t make new friends by jumping up and sniffing all the visiting crotches. Looks like you missed out on a few crotches today…but in retrospect, mebbe that’s a good thing. 😉

    das

  11. @ Tam Dixon – No – snow in March is not normal here. In fact, snow ANYtime is not normal here. Sure, we get it from time to time, but many a winter passes with nary a flake to be found. Well, ‘ceptin’ for this flake, here. *waves* 😛

    Next Monday (31st) is our 24th wedding anniversary. I sure hope it ‘springs up’ by then! Nor’easters are fairly common this time of year, but they usually bring rain and wind for us, not snow. Speaking of which…

    @ gforce – Are you in New England? I hear it’s going to get slammed tomorrow! Time to hunker down! We’re going to get some wind, but just what’s normal for us at the tip of the udder (25-35 mph, with gusts to 40 mph).

    That reminds me of the year my folks moved down here permanently. They asked how the winters were, and someone told them, “As long as you can handle the March winds, you’ll be fine!” Well, March came…and so did the winds. Mom thought to herself, “These must be the March winds I was told about!” Little did she know…

    Dad went out as soon as the winds died down. He came back home, devastated. He told mom that half of Cape May was gone. Well, not quite, but many of the structures near the water, and the boardwalk and convention hall, were destroyed. Seems it wasn’t just the March winds, but a major nor’easter that took out a huge portion of the mid-Atlantic coast: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_Wednesday_Storm_of_1962

    Not sure this will work, but I’ll give it a try – google images of the aftermath:

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1024&bih=653&q=cape+may+1962+storm&oq=cape+may+1962+storm&gs_l=img.3…1094.7051.0.7611.19.10.0.9.9.0.112.843.9j1.10.0….0…1ac.1.38.img..9.10.820.fFU8s-2fA20#hl=en&q=cape+may+1962+storm&tbm=isch

    Needless to say, Superstorm Sandy has often been compared to the March ’62 storm.

    das

  12. If you have COP friends, have them run the Competitions’ names for warrants, unpaid fines… Have them “picked up” AT the Event!
    Get to *know* the VIPs’ Handlers… [It’s the “LITTLE PEOPLE” who really *run* OZ!]
    Hire some Faux Paparazzi to follow your every move…
    Better yet, hire a few to hassle your VIP Target, then “rescue” Them!
    Start your own Catering service and get hired for ALL of the “good” parties…
    Audition for DANCING WITH THE STARS — seriously, you’ve GOT to be more “famous” than half of those People!

  13. You’ve got 4 & 6 covered, Joe.
    1. Your collection of ties
    2. Your collection of cufflinks, including, I believe, a pair representing pugs
    (You might add a lapel pin or tie tack featuring pugs or Frenchies)
    3. The pugs, Lulu, and Akemi, once someone notices the canine jewelry

    I also recommend adopting a quiet, portable hobby that would draw attention. Crochet works for me. You might try tatting, magic tricks, or yo-yo virtuosity.

    IF ALL ELSE FAILS, CHANGE YOUR NAME. Having an unusual name is an instant icebreaker. Trust me on this. 😇

    For example, if your mother’s maiden name is, say, Corleone, you could be Corleone J. Mallozzi, then brush off questions with “No, I was born before THE GODFATHER was published.”

    Or maybe Sicario J. “Killer Joe” Mallozzi, as in the classic jazz song.

    Wait! I know!
    .
    .
    Wait for it…
    .
    .
    JOSS WHEDON

    Thank you folks, I’ll be here all week. *bows*

  14. Now you know why Martin Gero owns that suit.

    There are some class dynamics at play here. From this far down on the ladder, my perspective is too near-sighted to say for sure, but I’m guessing you are middle-upper class and attempting to schmooze with the upper class while succeeding at schmoozing with the people from the middle and middle-upper classes. The lower you go on the rungs, the more polite it is to be more genuine. When schmoozing higher, being genuine in a professional setting is seen as not bothering with etiquette and makes it look like you care less about…something (sorry, my perspective is limited by my lack of care for another class’s values). Anyway, once you figure out what it is you’re supposed to care about, you need to fake this value to put another class at ease that you are able to care about the same things and therefore have plenty in common and therefore you are more likely to empathize with their perspectives than someone who doesn’t have as much in common (aka, thinking they are right).

    Let’s put it in foodie terms. It is middle class to appreciate how enjoyable a food is. It is upper class to appreciate how novel and visually appealing a food is. You are a hybrid of this and are able to sniff out a good snack from a distance. To show you are “one of them”, no chocolate chip cookies for Schmoozer Joe. (Don’t attempt to pronounce “Schmoozer Joe”. It hurts.)

  15. Hello,
    OH boy ! so true !
    un de vos meilleurs blogues ce matin! Me rappelle pourquoi j’ai quitté un gros bureau d’avocat et ne suis plus en pratique privée : plus capable d’aller à des cocktails pour recruter des clients ! Je continue pourtant à connaître des journées comme la vôtre lorsque je mets mon chapeau d’agent d’artiste pour une des grandes sculpteures au Canada !
    Thanks for your sens of mockery; you made my day today !

  16. Joe,

    It was nice meeting you today. I’m sorry my “unmistakable stench of desperation” was offensive. I guess that can of Right Guard didn’t work. I’ll use AXE next time.

    Thanks again, Bill.

    Ps. Mom is making meatloaf & mashed potatoes. Would you like to swing by for some? I’ve got a case of Mountain Dew we can split.

  17. Nothing like a Big Cookie as solace. The meet n greet I go is not work related, just meeting online friends annually. More booze than food, so lots of lubricated greetings.

    Perhaps a hip flask?

  18. So sorry about the meet & greet! It’s not as fun when socializing is scheduled. The people I know that are good at sales are easy going, friendly talkers. They’ve never met a stranger and are completely sincere. I admire those people…..

  19. In my experience, meet ‘n greets suck, even when there’s no reason for them other than “socializing”. Anything that organized and forced is kind of well, organized and forced. Although, I’m sure Mark S. would make a special exception to see you! Maybe I’ll put in a good word with him for you.. 😉

    @Das: I’m in New Brunswick, Canada, and as of noon today we are getting HAMMERED. Total blizzard outside. The office was open this morning, and rather than send us home just before the storm hits, they waited until about an hour after, when the roads were already terrible. Anyway, home safe now and I may actually post some video later if I go for a little walk!

  20. Here’s hoping some good luck comes your way Joe. And shame though, Stargate will always live in the hearts of anyone and everyone who loves Science fiction TV. Anyone who doesn’t know of Stargate sadly has missed something very special.

    It does surprise me though, with a lot of garbage that makes it to network TV only to pull ratings so low it either is pulled or destined for certain cancellation, why someone like you hasn’t had better luck. I mean, you were one of the guys that helmed the Stargate series in general, in an ideal world you should be getting more attention.

  21. In the “Art World” equivalent of these things, I found that trying to hide & purposely trying to be an ass to make people go away is the key to making people like you more. I’m nice, I just hate forced socialization. If there is music it also helps to dance with the old guy who is really having fun, he usually is important & would rather dance than talk.
    It also helps not to turn into a hermit like me.

  22. Ugh, that sounds dreadful! Well, except for the lovely-but-not-helpful-careerwise people that you met. At least there were some cool people to lighten the otherwise dreary affair. Do you have your resume posted online? Then you just have to manage to give someone a business card (with highlights of your resume listed on the back and your resume website address), instead of a whole resume, which can be awkward for your target to carry.

    Also, be a little braver about joining other people’s conversations. I’m being a total hypocrite with that advice, because I’m terrible at it, probably because I think it can be perceived as rude in real life to do that. But this isn’t real life. It’s a schmooze-fest, and people expect others to butt in. In fact, the target probably WANTS others to butt in, because s/he’s sick of being monopolized by the conversational black hole who’s standing in front of her/him. After you’re sure the other person has had their time (5 minutes TOPS) wait for the slightest pause in the conversation, step in, shake hands, and pipe up: “Hi, I’m Joe Mallozzi. I exec-produced the three Stargate series. I’d love to hear your thoughts on a couple projects I’m working on….” Have your delivery rehearsed so there’s no pause and thus no chance for the black hole to interrupt. As you get to the part about wanting to discuss your projects, move your body subtly to “block out” the other person (what that couple did to you). Hopefully they get the hint that it’s time to move on. Make your pitch(es) fast, leave him/her with your card, and move on to the next target. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  23. Storm update! Just heard they closed the main highway from Moncton, NB to Truro, NS, about 170km, because of the storm. Yikes!!

    This is really one of the bigger blizzards in recent memory.

  24. *Send steamy hot cocoa and fuzzy bunny slippers wishes gforce‘s way*

    And no worries, keep yer footies tucked under a blanket and no one will notice the slippers. 😉

    das

  25. Yeah…that was supposed to be ‘sending’.

    I just realized the reason I have such a high post count here: It’s because of all my follow-up posts correcting the boo-boos I made in a previous post. 😛

    das

  26. Stay warm Das & gforce! Would you both like to come down South until spring? It’s going to be 65F here tomorrow.

  27. The problem with your suit is that it won’t be that comfortable, but it certainly fills other tips. 🙂

    On Buddy, the link to their page doesn’t work, nor can I find another news source saying he was returned. Hope you are right..

  28. I absolutely suck at networking. I really don’t have the patience, nor apparently the necessary simpering to make the appropriate impression. Guess you will have to be like me, and rely on brains and ability.

  29. Wow @GForce No thanks on that one. Please keep safe. You, too, Das. I guess I should call my sister in Toms River. I haven’t heard from her lately. And that Storm from 1962 was very bad. I didn’t know about that one. We lived in Brooklyn back then–well I didn’t–I wasn’t born yet, but my sisters and parents did.

    Joe: How about this? “Advertise yourself in unexpected places, step out of your comfort zone, and, if you have to, invest a little money. You have to put some effort in if you want to see some results! A great example of this is a woman named Pasha (HirePasha.com) who took her last bit of money and bought a billboard in a high-traffic area that read, ‘I’m ready and available for work, HirePasha.com.’ It worked so well that she ended up creating her own public relations firm because of all the attention she got for herself! The lesson here is to not limit yourself just because you think something is too outrageous or unexpected. In this case, it worked!”

    So maybe you should buy the billboard across the street from the meet & greet and get your face plastered on it with that winning smile, a Stargate in one corner, food in another, and your dogs in the other to appeal to a diverse set of people.

    Apparently advice says you must have your own domain name. I guess this blog isn’t enough.

    Also maybe these suggestions might spring some clever ideas:

    “If you’re applying to a company in the fashion industry, print your resume on a t-shirt and send it.
    If you’re applying for an analyst or research position, put all your skills into a pie chart and list your employment achievements on a line graph. The pie chart, for example, can show the relative strengths of your skills.
    If you’re applying for a job in the food industry, print your resume on a coffee mug and send it.
    These are just examples, but the point is that you have nothing to lose here. Creativity is a characteristic employers admire, so come up with your own ideas.”

    Also: Be a consistent contributor on LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a great way to make and leverage connections for your job search, but why not have a positive reputation first? Contribute to LinkedIn Discussions of specific industry groups you’re interested in and participate regularly in LinkedIn Answers. Use the Discussions to post industry trends or contribute to topics, and use LinkedIn Answers to demonstrate your knowledge or ask questions.

    Don’t know if any of that is helpful, but I can’t imagine having to go out and do what you are doing.

  30. This is why I hate networking, too. I’m already awkward around people I don’t know, but you only don’t come across as desperate if you’re one of the big wigs everyone else is trying to meet. Which, then, is pointless. (Just came off some networking myself this week that I failed miserably at. Sigh.)

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