Before I tell you about the tips and unique experiences I’ve encountered along my short but meaningful road down the social media highway, let me first tell you a little about me. I am a twenty-one-year-old, African American male born in Hayward, California about 30 miles north of San Francisco. I have wanted to be a screenwriter since I was ten years old. I guess you can say it’s been my calling from a very early age. I’ve been film-making for over six years and writing stories since I was eight. After leaving high school, I began my educational journey at Columbia College Chicago. During that time a film producer in Los Angeles and excellent professors at Columbia College became my mentors. These experiences provided me the foundation for my growth as a screenwriter and fueled my desire to grow my network and share my unique perspective of the world.
This summer I started a campaign to expand my social media network across multiple platforms and to grow my network from 0-500 followers. After five months of vigorous networking, I became the most viewed screenwriter on LinkedIn amassing 4900+ followers and ranked in the top 1% percent among’st my industry connections. My connections include film, fashion, music, graphic design, and high-tech industries professionals. Through this process, I connected to talent recruiters from studios like ABC, Amazon Studios, HBO, NBC, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, and Warner Bros, as well as talent agencies such as CAA, IGM, and William Morris. I also have five industry connections in every major film studio in America. Through LinkedIn, I was able to connect with executives, producers, and directors at the BBC Network and with multiple European and Canadian film production companies.
To achieve my goal I targeted two professional networking platforms: LinkedIn and Stage 32. Through these awesome networking platforms, I launched a fierce networking campaign that far exceeded my wildest expectations. Today I have 4,967 LinkedIn connections and on Stage 32 I have 2,592 entertainment industry connections—and growing every day.
My Stage 32 campaign was hugely successful in helping to create opportunities that would have taken me years to achieve. Through Stage 32, I connected with the founder and executive director of Ghost Writers, Inc., where I landed a gig to become a ghostwriter for them, making me one of the youngest writers the company has ever hired. My connection with Ghost Writers, Inc., lead to a connection with a diversity recruiter at Amazon Studios who has taken tremendous interest in my work. She has given me extremely important input on my short screenplay Connor and gave me great ideas for ways to further develop it into a script for a feature length film.
The secret to my success came to down to “C.U.R.E.” (Confidence, Uniqueness, Repetition and Endeavor), a formula I created to drive the success of my campaign.
Target a social media platform in which you have the most confidence. This will enable you to attract the type of followers most likely to support your future goals. “Lean in.” Driving a campaign to increase your professional networking presence in a big way will initially be time-consuming, nerve-racking, exhilarating and sometimes a crazy experience. There are many unknowns that can impact the number of people that will respond to your comments, posts, and shares. The confidence in which you communicate will attract new followers and give your existing followers a reason to continue to pay attention to you.
True belief in the content that you post, like, comment, and share will transform your presence on the platforms that you target. This understanding has been vital to why millennials attract huge followings.
Highlight and embrace your uniqueness. Ignite your curiosity by asking for feedback on ideas and subjects in which you’re passionate. If you present an idea, share a post or comment on content that is unique, thought provoking, or just funny, you will increase your viewers and followers. Don’t get me wrong; it can be difficult finding a unique set of ideas that will resonate and take flight as you grow your network, but that should be the challenge. Because sharing your uniqueness is worth the effort and reward.
My uniqueness sadly comes from the fact that I am among a small group of African Americans pursuing and actively working as screenwriters. This presents a unique opportunity to share our view of the world while deepening the added difficulties of getting our stories told. Inviting a diversity of viewers and influencers into my network has been invaluable to shaping my cultural perspective and worldview.
The third important aspect is repetition. If you implement the C.U.R.E formula, you must be tenacious and repetitive in your execution, by posting and sharing content at least three times per week. Once the formula morphs into a routine, it will spark interest and help you increase your network and viewership.
My routine for success began by going onto LinkedIn and searching and connecting with individuals within the film industry and industries connected to it. I actively set a goal to connect with 50-100 industry professionals per day, and I would endorse anyone of my connections if they asked me. I ended up usually endorsing 20-40 people a week. I also share at least 5-7 posts which vary from job opportunities from talent recruiters to articles written by my connections that I believe were fun, interesting, unique, and most importantly, positive.
The fourth and final aspect of creating a successful networking campaign is to enjoy the endeavor. Striving hard for something that you deeply care about is one the greatest things anyone could ever do. There are many people around the world that never achieve their goals and many more not put into a position to succeed because society/life dictates another plan for them. But if you are courageous enough not to care about what the world puts in front of you, and you strive hard to fulfill your dreams and goals, then the skies are the limit. So enjoy and appreciate the endeavor!
It has been a truly amazing experience growing my social media network. I believe all human beings are connected, and we live in a digital era that allows anyone to connect to anyone, anywhere. All we have to do is keep furiously moving forward. Using formulas like C.U.R.E can help you move from the point of complacency and apathy to creating a vibrant and active social networking sphere of influence and influencers.
Thank you for reading, I hope my tips and experiences encourage you to continue to keep moving forward with what you love and help you network to connect with others that love to do the same.