How to conquer imposter syndrome and learn to work the room.
Shh… have you heard? We’re all supposed to be networking now?! Have you broken out in goosebumps? Is that a little perspiration on your brow? Is your heart beating just a little bit too fast at the very mention of that dreaded word?
Network, network, network.
Go on, say it out loud. Reclaim it.
We know, we know… you wanted to be an editor so you could sit in a dark room all alone all day long. You didn’t want to mix with strangers, chatting the chat, and working the room (gah!). But you know what? Networking is the best way to get yourself known and that my friend, is the way to secure gainful employment and a bright and shiny future.
The good people of Mental Floss, describe imposter syndrome as a: “distortion of thinking that makes [people] believe they’re actually incompetent, unintelligent, and lazy. They’re convinced they’re faking their way through their accomplishments, and one day, they’ll be found out—exposed as the frauds they believe themselves to be.”
That sound familiar?
Imposter syndrome is a tricky beast to conquer but fear not, we have some tricks and tactics to help you out.
Excuse me, I think I’m in the wrong room
Remember that one kid in school who turned up to the wrong room on the first day? Yup, there’s always one… Your school days are your formative years and it turns out that the fear of being in the wrong class at the wrong time, stays with us for the rest of our lives. There are a ton of different reasons why people get hit with sudden onset imposter syndrome, and there are a great many people who admit to being sufferers – the late and great Maya Angelou for one, and Sir Tom Hanks for another.
Fear not my friend, you are supposed to be here and you, and your imposter syndrome, are in good company. This is your life, your career, and chances are, you signed up for this darned thing in the first place. Hold your head high and get on in there.
Fake it till you make it?
Or, as a great philosopher once put it: “do or do not, there is no try”. Faking it until you make it is a handy little aphorism that makes it difficult for that negative Nellie deep in your head to get her voice heard. The crucial thing is though, while you’re ‘faking it’, you need to be actively taking the steps you need toward actually making it. This means taking advice, taking a course, asking important questions… nobody likes working with a perpetual faker, do they?
So how to do it… Look around you, see those people having nice conversations? That’s all you’re going to do. Be nice, compliment someone, ask them a question – tell them you like their sweater if you must (in a non-weird way natch). All you are doing is having pleasant chats with people who are just like you – they do the same thing you do, they work in the same field, and they probably have a lot of similar characteristics.
The early bird catches the worm
There are very few things worse than arriving late to a room full of people having great conversations that don’t include you. If you can arrange to get there early, you get to stake out the room and start up an easy convo with a fellow early bird – you’re probably both feeling the exact same way. This is a great strategy to get something going in a really natural and less terrifying way. You never know, your new friend might know some people already and might just take you under their wing.
Our very own Richard Sanchez had a great early bird experience at the Eddies where he ended up having a lovely chat with none other than Gary Dollner, ACE who went on to win for Killing Eve that same evening. Just goes to show, you never know what’s waiting for you in the cosmic order of things.
Relish that small talk!
Small talk really does have a purpose. Not only does it help make people more comfortable, but it also helps people to connect over a shared experience (the very reason that Brits love to chat about the weather). You don’t have to worry about coming up with something clever to say, you just have to be a pleasant human being who happens to be having a lovely chat with another pleasant human being (and if you’re not a pleasant human being? Well… there’s probably a Facebook group out there for you).
Have you seen..?
Some of us really dread not having the right answer to a kamikaze question. The: ‘Have you seen –insert random obscure film title here -? No? Oh, you really should…’ question is one we have all been hit with at one time or another.
And you know what? It is perfectly okay to admit to not having seen something. Just think about what you have seen… exacto.
You are a film fan, you’ve seen a ton of movies – you want to be part of making them for goodness sake. Stay strong young Padawan, the force is with you. Chances are, whoever asked you this question isn’t really interested in what you think. Now is your time to smile beatifically and let them do the talking. Have a few open-ended questions up your sleeve ready to deploy when you feel the conversation starting to dry up to keep the focus on the speaker and avoid drawing too much attention to yourself.
Make some connections
The best way to approach a networking event is to think of it as a way to make connections with like-minded folk. Once you’ve had a nice chat and chowed down on some tiny snacks, take some time to swap business cards or, because we’re modern now, Twitter handles. It’s often waaay easier to connect once you’re out of the firing line and a pithy online intro like “Gosh, I felt so awkward at that networking event!” might just make you a great new contact.
One top tip though? Make sure your online persona is just as lovely as your IRL one; heap praise where praise is due but don’t feel it necessary to share all your thoughts. It might be that the film you just tore apart is produced by someone looking to hire their next editor, or a friend of a friend of a colleague – you may have just put your foot right into your own mouth. You don’t know who will read your comments so remember what your Mom always told you, if you’ve nothing nice to say, don’t say itat all. Our community is smaller than it may at first appear.
Remember, people like to talk about themselves. If you’re a newbie, you have a great ready-made open-ended question that will actually serve you well. Never be afraid to ask how someone got started as an editor. Most likely, they will want to share their amazing journey with you and you get some great career tips free of charge – win win.
You want a final way around the horrors of real-life networking events? Get online. Join some groups (like ours!), follow someone on Twitter (like us!)– lots of people feel way more confident with a keyboard between them and the rest of the world and these days, the internet is your oyster.
Networking is often hard to quantify and often extremely daunting. Hold onto your hat though. You might not feel any benefit straight away, but somewhere along the line, something good will come of it – we promise. It might not be the next gig but something tangible, or otherwise, will happen, and it will all have been worth it.
Some great events to meet people:
American Cinema Editors (ACE) Editfest – (Los Angeles & London)
American Cinema Editors Invisible Art/Visible Artist (IAVA) – (Los Angeles)
Blue Collar Post Collective Events and Meetups – (NYC, Los Angeles & London)
Los Angeles Creative Pro User Group
Boston Creative Pro User Group
Industry Happenings – (Facebook Group with info about industry events)
National Association of Broadcasters Events – (Las Vegas, NY, Shanghai, Washingon DC & More)
International Broadcasting Convention – (Amsterdam)
Do you host a meetup for editing, film or television professionals? Let us know!!