It's been a strange couple of weeks for me.
As you know, I'm a financial coach. Prior to starting this business, I was a TV Producer for 15 years, and before that, I was a Journalist, mostly in television and radio (wait...what's that again, you ask? It's just like a Podcast but in a studio, LIVE, broadcast over airwaves. LOL.)
For some reason, these last couple of weeks, I've gotten requests to be interviewed about producing ABC's mega-hit franchise, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette...I spoke on a panel with other uber successful women and men in entertainment (see photo below)...a friend asked me if I'd be willing to speak to a middle school journalism class, and a few colleagues asked about how to pitch to media and what looks good on camera.
So...I think the Universe is telling me to write and give you advice on how to get a job in television (and in general, how to get your dream job) because that's close to my heart these days, as a financial coach. Some financial advisors may tell you to stay at your soul-sucking 9-to-5 job until you retire because it has great retirement benefits, but my job is to help you to transition from that job you hate to your dream career, in a way that won't leave you broke and wishing you had never quit in the first place!
(Some of this advice I know my fellow panelists also said. I agreed with so much of what they had to say and also learned so much from each and everyone!)
From Journalist to TV Producer
My entry into TV producing wasn't so thought out. I loved what Journalism represented to me...another way to create checks and balances on our government...to fact check what politicians, company CEOs and others told us about the products we use and the laws enacted, "on our behalf." Personally, I also did well, moving from market to market, working in newsrooms in Austin, Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles, D.C. and NYC. I became a News Director for a public station in Los Angeles, and I won an Associated Press Mark Twain Award for Best Newscast there. I was also the youngest news anchor at XM Satellite Radio, which is now, Sirius XM.
A year after 9-11, the head of the company laid off the news department. In that meeting, I said...
"What? You're going to lay off the news department right before the country goes to war?"
Now, I wasn't upset because I didn't have a job or that I had just moved less than a year ago to take this job. I was truly dumbfounded that this decision came at a pivotal time in our nation's history. Wouldn't they want or need journalists? Apparently, they can outsource that now too.
I moved myself back to the suburb of Los Angeles, where my parents lived. Shortly after, a college friend asked me to come work for her. She was a Supervising Producer at the now defunct Style Network. She was working on a show called The Look for Less, a makeover show all about getting designer looks on a real budget. (So funny that this first show had to do with money! Onscreen, we added up total costs, at the end of each makeover.) It was hosted by Elizabeth Hasselback, who was first a contestant on Survivor and then, went on to have a big career, as a co-host of The View and finally before she retired, Fox and Friends. I was an Associate Producer and within six months, I got promoted to a Show Producer. After my run on the show ended, I wondered how freelancers made it "work," financially-speaking, and that's how I got interested in personal finance.
Network (But not the way you think)
So, I got my first job as a television producer because I knew someone, and as many others on the panel (mentioned above) also said, I never got a job in entertainment by applying for it. I've come close on a few occasions, but I never got the actual job. Every single show I had the privilege of producing happened because someone recommended me or I reached out to someone I knew working on the show. So, IMO, that's the #1 key to success in entertainment -- your network.
Now, networking may still sound, to you, like a bad word. You may think it's scary or difficult. Or some may think, hey I have 2000 friends on Facebook, or Instagram or LinkedIn, isn't that networking? Sure that's great! And it may increase your chances of getting hired in some circles, like it's great for actors and models these days to have those numbers. However, having a huge social media following does not usually translate into jobs behind the camera or not in the spotlight. So, to me, networking is truly just making friends and having friends. The more authentic your connections, the more you'll have people thinking of you for that next gig they're hiring. Now, you do have friends, don't you? If you're someone who has a difficult time making friends, then here's where you practice! I'm not going to teach you how to make friends in this post, since that's a Post by itself.
I was on the panel mentioned above because I had met the moderator of the event last year at a networking event, and we've kept in touch. She even wrote this Blog Post recently about how she was able to pay off $45,000 of debts in just 1 year! Really inspiring! She also told the attendees to reach out to people you want to work with and ask them for an informational interview. A lot of people didn't know what that was. It's basically buying that person you admire a cup of coffee or lunch and asking them about how they got their start and any advice they can give you!
Afterwards, I told two young women to not just talk to those of us on the panel but to meet and talk to other people who came to the event. This will end up being their "network."
Here are some things to keep in mind when forming your authentic connections:
- Find someone you genuinely connect with. If they said something at an event, tell them why what they said connected to you specifically. If you're just connecting with someone to find a job, then that other person is going to sense that and really want nothing to do with you. Not because they don't want to help but because they don't even know you, and you're already asking them for something that they may not even be able to give right now! How many friends do you truly LIKE that's asking you for favors all the time? Now, how do you feel if a total stranger came to you to ask you for a favor that you can't really give? Wouldn't you try to avoid that person, at all cost? Thought so.
- Next, make your ask super clear and easy for them to say yes! I would say:
"I'd really love to know how you got your start and ask your advice on my skills, resume...whatever...Could I buy you a cup of coffee or tea and pastry, for your time?"
- Then, pick a day and time that works best for them and try and go to where they live or work, so it's even easier for them. If you live in L.A., you know why I'm not going to
- want to go to Venice on a weekday, especially because I live in Pasadena!
- While in your meeting, really LISTEN. Pay attention to what they're saying. Then, when it's your turn to talk, make a real connection by relating to the things they talked about. If you can't relate, ask questions! Why did you do this and that?
- Again, don't ask them for a job!
- Try and keep the meeting to 1 hour max. If they're having a good time, then they'll indicate to you that they're willing to talk longer. However, I always believe that it's best to leave them wanting a bit more and not overstay your welcome.
- Finally, afterwards, please send them an e-mail to thank them! Make it personal. Point out specific things they said that really made a difference to you. This is not just a nice thing to do. This also helps them to remember you, when a job comes up! Then, keep in touch every now and then. Ask them about what's going on in their life. If it's a friendship, go and do something together the next time!
You got the job. Now, what?
Congratulations! First, celebrate!!!
Then, thank the person who got you the job. I like to get them a gift certificate to their favorite spa, but you do you.
Now, it's time to work your butt off! Really impress your current employers. Make them want, actually make them NEED to hire you for their next show! Don't complain. Try not to take things too personally. Do the work to the best of your abilities!
Because I truly believe this...
It's WHO you know that will get you into the door, but it's WHAT you know that will keep you there.
So, what are your questions about how to get into entertainment or your dream career? Did what I say resonate with you? Do you have a story you want to tell or advice you want to give on how to get your dream career? If you're in entertainment, how did YOU get your start? I'd love to know!! So please Subscribe and Comment below! I can't wait to hear from you.