Networking is literally the most important thing you can do for your career as a video editor.

Let me say that one more time for those in the back.

📣 NETWORKING IS LITERALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR CAREER AS A VIDEO EDITOR. 📣

We all have different career paths. Two editors can be working at the same post house at the same seniority level making the same amount and they both got there in dramatically different ways.

One editor got their job through Indeed and 1,000 online applications. The other editor got their job over a beer with someone from their network. I know plenty of editors who are the former. They apply to everything on Glassdoor and eventually land a gig. Me, I’m the other editor.

For me, every single job I’ve ever had or gig I’ve landed is because of networking. It was because I knew someone else who was in need of my skills. It was because those people knew I had those skills and was looking for work. It was because I wasn’t annoying about it (at least in my opinion I wasn’t). And it was because I never stopped networking.

If you take anything away from this post I hope it’s the following:

  1. The most important thing you can do for your career is to network
  2. You have to tell people about your skills, what you can do, and what you want to do
  3. The people you tell about your skills must know you’re looking for work or are interested in doing work in the future
  4. Don’t be annoying to these people you’re networking with
  5. Never stop networking, even when you have more than enough work

The rest of this post will focus on the why’s and how’s behind these networking fundamentals for video editors.

Why Networking is the Most Important Thing You Can do for Your Career — A Networking Story From My Past

Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.”? From a very early age I figured this out. My first experience with networking was when I was 14. I was determined to find a job and went out to every local business asking for applications. I got turned away from every single one because of my age. Then, CVS gave me a call! I got the job! I go in to fill out my paperwork then they realize I’m 14 and rescind their offer. WTH.

I was legitimately sad. Sad enough for my college-aged older sister who at the time could care less about her little brother’s feelings took me out for a brownie sundae at the restaurant she used to waitress at in high school.

The brownie sundae arrived and I started to feel better bite by bite. My sister got up and went and chatted with some workers in the back. This was pre-cell phone times kids, so I sat quietly watching a baseball game on the TV. Unbeknownst to me, my sister was vouching for me to the restaurant owner.

A few minutes later the owner came over and introduced himself and sat down while I ate. He asked about CVS and what happened and why I wanted a job so badly. He was interviewing me without me knowing it (this wasn’t the last time this has happened in my career and I’ve done this to many other people but that’s for another post!). Then out of nowhere he said, “Great! You start tomorrow.”

My network did this. My network, even though it was just my sister, convinced this restaurant owner who wouldn’t ever think of hiring a 14-year-old to give me a chance at this job. I’m not exaggerating — I did not disappoint him. In fact, I worked my tail off at this place all the way through college.

One summer while in college I got to know one of my tables of regulars. They found out all about me, what I was learning about in college (videography and video editing), and what I was planning on doing the next summer when I was home. These folks became part of my network. And these folks had a friend who ran the U.S. Senate’s in-house video team. Their friend ended up getting me my first in-the-industry job for him the following summer.

I can go on and on about how every job I’ve gotten has been connected through my network but I’m sure you’re ready for me to get into the tips and tactics so let’s get into it.

What is a Network?

As my story above shows, your network can and will get you work. I like to think there are four layers to your network.

  • Layer 1 = Your inner circle. These are your immediate family and your closest friends (think people who would be your bridesmaids or groomsmen).
  • Layer 2 = Your extended family and friends you have a texting relationship with. These are people who would never be shocked if you reached out to them to say hi.
  • Layer 3 = People you know and could contact but it might feel a little weird. Think like your cousin’s neighbor who you see at their 4th of July BBQ every year and exchanged email addresses with to send them a recipe or travel recommendations. Or an old college classmate and it’s been a couple years since you’ve caught up.
  • Layer 4 = People you know but it would be difficult to connect with. This could be someone like an instructor at a conference training session you attended and spoke with briefly afterwards. 

There really aren’t any other types of people that you know, right? They’re either your inner circle, your extended family and friends, casual acquaintances, and randos you’ve met once or twice. This is your network. Everyone else is a stranger.

In my opinion, the key to networking is to move as many of these people into layer 2 as possible. Layers 1 and 2 are your primary network. These are the people that will actively find you jobs if you ask them or they’ll approach you for gigs when they become available.

Every relationship has to start outside of your network then work into layer 4 then layer 3 then layer 2. It’s naturally how it works. Let’s go over some steps on how to do this.

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How Network as a Video Editor

Networking is a pretty simple equation.

(You) + (Someone Else) + (Create Shared Bond) + (Get to Know Each Other) + (Continue to Grow Relationship) = Networking.

Let’s break that down.

In order to network you need you and one other person. You two will create some sort of shared bond over something. Maybe you meet at a conference and get partnered up for an exercise and hit it off. Maybe you get stuck on an elevator with them. Maybe you stumble upon their latest tweet and reply to them about it because something similar happened to you.

Next, you get to know each other. Now that you’ve connected because of your shared bond, you take it a step further and start digging in some roots. Oh, you both like anime? Oh, you both are Nationals fans? Oh, you both drove a beat-up Ford Taurus back in the day?

When first meeting someone, even if you already know they are in-industry people, you don’t have to talk about industry stuff. Because at the end of the day, you network with people not their jobs. Get to know them. Then, when appropriate, find out about what they do.

At this point this stranger now moves into your network as a Layer 4 person. They can never turn directly into a Layer 3 person. They can only become Layer 3 by continuing to grow your relationship.

You continue to grow your relationship in two ways. First, by staying in touch digitally at least 2-3 times a year. And second, by meeting up again in person.

Related Reading: Fighting Shyness in Post

We’ll talk about staying in touch digitally later in the How Not to Be Annoying While Networking and How to Never Stop Networking sections.

You could hit it off so well that this person is ready to meet up with you again right away over coffee, lunch or a drink. Or, and this is more likely, you’ll need to give it some time. Like a few weeks or months. You’ll have to reach out and see how they’re doing and ask if they’re willing to catch up in person. In person is key. In person meetups > phone/Skype/email.

You network with people not their jobs.

You’ll probably never get a job out of a 10 minute conversation with a random person you meet in line at Starbucks. But once you get to know each other and continue to grow the relationship, your chances go up exponentially.

From here you continue to grow your relationship with this person. You’ll eventually end up expressing what you’re knowledgeable about and that you’re looking for work which we’ll discuss next.

Tell People About Your Video Editing Skills

Okay, you’ve made the connection with someone. Now, tell them what you do. If they’re in-industry folks, get specific. For example: “I cut trailers using FCPX and Motion.” If they’re out-of-industry folks, you can be a bit more vague. “I edit marketing videos for small businesses.” The main thing is that they know you work in video and what you’re good at.

It’s kinda obvious but if someone doesn’t know what you can do, why would they ever ask you to do work for them?

At this point in your relationship I think it’s safe to start sending them a link to your site, work samples, links to pieces you’ve made, and your reel. I’d hold off sending them your resume unless they specifically ask for it. You don’t want to scare them off or be annoying (more on this later). 

The goal is so they know what you can do. This is so they have a range of what to expect if they were to work with you.

Them: Oh, you do some animation? Can you make a video that looks like Coco?! Our marketing department has this crazy idea…”

You: “No, that’s not really the type of animation I do. It’s more kinetic word projects.”

Tell People You’re Looking for Work

Now that you’ve built a solid foundation to your relationship and they know what you do, it’s time to tell them you want work.

Telling someone you are looking for work, want work, or you will want work in the future is absolutely critical to this entire networking thing. Just because they know what you do doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll think of you when the need arises.

Once they know you want work, they’ll at least be passively looking for work for you. If you’ve made a real impression on them, then they’ll be actively looking for work for you. Your network automatically expands into their network. All their layer 1 and 2 people are yours by proxy as well. These people aren’t a part of your network but they function in the same way when you have someone actively looking for work for you.

Don’t Be Annoying While Networking

As I mentioned above, don’t just go right out in the first couple minutes chatting with someone and ask for their email address so you can send them your resume. That looks desperate and if that was me on the other side I wouldn’t ever respond to you.

Wait until it there is a natural fit in your conversations. Maybe you’re talking about messing with slow-mo videos and you have a great example of something you’ve done. That is a natural fit for you to send them that.

Don’t be a nuisance to someone’s inbox or voicemail. If they don’t respond to you, give it some time. We’re talking a couple weeks. People are busy and our email inboxes are just giant to-do lists created by people that aren’t ourselves. I recommend following-up once. If they don’t get back to you, then it might be best to move on. Any more follow-ups makes you tread on the verge of annoyance which I would avoid at all costs as word always gets around.

Networking is very similar to dating, at least from what I remember about dating. Sure you can try to go all out in the first interaction and maybe you’ll land a date that’ll lead to nowhere because you hardly know the person. Or you can play it cool, build a bond, get to know them, then land a date. With all the info you’ve been able to gather you’ll be able to plan the perfect date which will lead to many more.

When you’re interacting with someone you hope to get work from one day keep in mind it’s not about what they can do for you but what you can do for them. Keep their interests front of mind; not your ulterior motives. This will lead to a more genuine relationship, which is what you’re trying to do!

Networking is about playing the long game. It takes time. We’re talking years or decades!! Seriously. My position a few years back running the media department at a healthcare startup was because of a decades long personal/professional relationship I had kept with someone whose kids I taught Karate to when I was a teenager. This guy, who knew what I did and knew I was looking for work, thought of me when this opportunity opened up. Staying in touch with him every six or so months over 10+ years landed me a great job.

Networking doesn’t just stop once you land your first gig with someone. All this effort was just to get your foot in the door. Now you have to deliver. You have to do a bang-up job so you’ll continue to get more and more work from them. 

Never Stop Networking

I mentioned it a second ago but let me reiterate that networking takes time. And it’s something you must always be doing. Not always in a once-a-day try to meet someone kind of way. But more of an on-going process in your weekly or monthly tasks.

Once you get someone to a Layer 3 person, as long as you’re not annoying, I recommend touching base digitally once every 3-6 months. Newer relationships I’d lean on the 3 month side and older relationships can be on the 6 month side. A simple email asking how they are, how their family is, did they catch the new season of Stranger Things since you had that long chat about it when you first met… 

If at all possible, I suggest doing an in-person meetup at least once a year. This can be over a beer, cup of coffee, dinner, some random presentation you hear about, etc. Getting together in person will always lead to a stronger bond and give you one-on-one time to get to know them and their work better and vice versa.

But Josh, I have a great job. Why do I need to network?

You may not have that job next week or next year. You never know what’s going to happen. And networking is always easier when you actually don’t “need” to network. You might not need any gigs at the moment. You’re doing this for the time you will need gigs or a job or a referral or whatever. Probably less than 2% of the people you’re meeting / networking with will ever be of any real value in terms of career movement. That’s why it’s important to network constantly with new people. Always. Be. Networking.

Related Reading: Conferences Yes, No or Maybe

Here’s an example from my own life:

In March I met a person who runs a local full-service media company at a gathering at a friend’s house. We exchanged info and I shot him a follow-up email with my reel and some links (note: he asked me to send them to him!). Last month I shot him another email just touching base and asked about his family since I had met his wife and kids. He responded and mentioned some projects that are coming up but not until later this year and to reach back out to him then. Cool! So now I have a reminder set to email him in October to see how he’s doing.

I’ll give it a 5% chance I ever get work from this guy. But if I have one hundred other situations just like this one the odds grow much more in my favor.

Summary of Networking Fundamentals for Video Editors

Let’s recap some key concepts:

  • The most important thing you can do for your career is to network
  • You have to tell people about your skills, what you can do, and what you want to do
  • The people you tell about your skills must know you’re looking for work or are interested in doing work in the future
  • Don’t be annoying to these people you’re networking with
  • Never stop networking, even when you have more than enough work
  • Networking is a pretty simple equation: (You) + (Someone Else) + (Create Shared Bond) + (Get to Know Each Other) + (Continue to Grow Relationship) = Networking
  • You network with people not their jobs
  • Networking takes years

If you’ve read this far… wow. Bravo. Thank you. Since I didn’t scare you off, you may be interested in signing up to get emailed about new posts here on the site. To do that, go here. It takes like 15 seconds. No spam, ever. Just the good stuff.

Best of luck with all your networking adventures.

– Josh