Why Animators (and You) Need To Create A Network

Last night I attended a networking event put on by Loyola University here in Baltimore, where I currently undertake an MBA course of study. Now I’m not one to readily go out and ‘network’, I can be tremendously shy and nervous at events like these, however, I did find last night a great help insofar as persuading me that I need to attend more events like this (if that makes sense).

The most important lesson I took away from the evening was that relationships can matter a whole lot when it comes to business. Although this is kinda sad in a way, it is the truth, and thankfully, there is plenty you can do about it to help yourself get where you want or need to go.

For animators, creating a professional and personal network should be one of their highest priorities. You’ll likely already have one from school, but it is important to create one outside of that, either from the neighbourhood you live in, organisations like ASIFA or the Animation Guild, a drawing class, or even just the folks you work with.

One of the points that was hammered home last night was to build and maintain relationships. One of the panelists put it like this:

It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

That’s a great quote and pretty much sums up how you can determine your place in the labour supply pool. If no-one knows you, then there’s a good chance that you can become isolated professionally and that can have detrimental consequences when it comes time to look for a job or even climb the career ladder.

ASIFA-East President and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, David Levy, often mentions networking over on his blog, Animondays. His reason is more practical than most. As a New Yorker, the tight-knit animation community flourishes because of personal relationships. There are no really large ‘faceless’ corporations operating in the city so a fair amount of the time, he is working directly with an individual or small studio. In such a situation, personal relationships can (and do) count for an awful lot. Animondays has plenty of advice so check it out (if you don not do so already).

Relationships are also something that can slip away easily. I know myself that I am a horrible communicator. If you ever get an e-mail from me, I can come off as whiny, needy, hyperactive or just plain ignorant. If you don’t receive a reply from me, I more than likely neglected to take the 5 seconds to reply.

I know these are things I need to work on, and it can be hard when you’re working or going to school full-time to justify spending an evening or afternoon schmoozing with other people in the field. However, once you create a relationship, it is imperative that you take the small amount of time to maintain it. E-mails now and then, or even the occasional lunch can work wonders.

However, it would seem that the benefits are well worth the time put in, and like a couple of the panelists were saying, the more people who know you’re out of work, the greater the chance they know someone with an open position that needs to be filled.

So quit making excuses for yourself. That TV show or computer game can wait this evening. Head on out there and meet someone in the same boat as yourself! You’ll be surprised at they great kinds of people you’ll come across.

Joe Murray is Moving In New Directions And So Should You

Via: KaboingTV.com

Joe Murray (erstwhile creator of Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo) has announced that his fledgling online TV network, KaboingTV, will make its grand premiere on March 11th. In case you didn’t know, KaboingTV is Joe’s attempt at creating an online TV station devoted solely to cartoons and also passing more moolah back to the creators.

Why is all of this important? Joe, for all his track record in producing hit TV shows, is moving in an entirely new direction. Heck, in one sense he is being a true pioneer. Some people have tried to do what he’s done (and been successful too) but none have done so with the specific aim of mutual benefit and comradeship.

Joe is not resting on his laurels and has actively searched out new ideas and potential sources of income when he hasn’t been making cartoons. There are tons of people out there who would never in their right mind take on what Joe has. It’s just not in their nature, and that’s fine. We can’t be an entire nation of Warren Buffetts (although I sure could use the kind of money he has).

I’m not saying that you need to go out and repeat what Joe’s done (for starters he’s already beaten you to it), just that actively toying around with new ideas, any new idea, will reap rewards. Maybe not initially, but down the road. It’s kind of like me and the MBA. I’m not going to see the payout immediately, but I do expect to see a difference maybe 10+ years down the road, when I am in a better position to use the knowledge I’ve learned.

On the flip side, you don’t even have to come up with a new idea at all, just engage in something you don’t normally engage in! For animators, this could mean attending a life drawing class, learning a new computer program, exploring the fun (or serious) side of your creativity. You have no excuses for not doing so, and in the end, there are great benefits to be had.