Lou Lesko of BlinkBid Fame Explains Why Social Media is Useless Without Real World Connections

Social media is useless without real world connections. The founder of BlinkBid, Lou Lesko, talks about how to build a network.

The most critical advice I have for anyone trying to make it in this mad industry is to get out and meet people who can hire you. While this seems obvious and simple, the basic concept is often misunderstood or ignored in favor of spending hours producing promos, tweaking web sites, and posting to Instagram. Promos are important, web sites are important, and having a curated Instagram account is important, but they are useless unless they get seen. This is where your network of connections comes into play.

The first tenet of connection building starts with you. Be human, be warm, be real. Of all the people I’ve met at the hundreds of parties I attended in Hollywood, the people who were the most memorable were the ones that appeared most human. In a sea of hyperbole, it was the individuals who seemed like they woke up and scratched their asses on the way to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee that I liked the most.

The second tenet is to listen like you care. Whether you’re engaging with someone at a party or in a meeting, it is part of your mandate to focus on the conversation. In those moments, your phone should not exist, and your eyes and your mind should not wander. If you’ve ever sat with someone and noticed their eyes darting, following everyone or anything that passes, you understand how frustrating it is. Even more so when they don’t even notice you noticing them being distracted.   Think in other people’s shoes and be polite. Know that the same is being thought about you.

I have a friend, a cinematographer, who I love dearly who cannot help being distracted by television images. Because he’s remarkably self-aware and empathetic, whenever we meet at a bar with a TV, he positions himself in a seat where he can’t see any screens. Understand who you are and what quirks or limitations you have that might  jeopardize your attention span. Then make adjustments to help yourself.

Never make someone feel like they are taking up your time. The decision is yours to take a meeting or a phone call or attend a party. Feigning that you’re needed elsewhere is an oft-used, thinly veiled attempt at self-aggrandizement. It is obvious and a little pathetic.

Conversations at parties go in one of two directions: a slow layering that builds to an interesting discussion, or a complete miss of personality types causing a spectacular fizzle to nothingness. Find something open-ended to talk about to create an opportunity for robust discussion. Avoid opening with negative opinions. And never, ever denigrate anyone. You don’t know who knows whom in this industry, and allies, not enemies are the way forward. A good way to distinguish yourself is to closet your insecurities and be amiable toward everyone.

Don’t fake knowledge about a subject. This happens all the time; someone asks if you know a notable artist, author, photographer. The kneejerk reaction is to say “yes,” so you don’t look culturally vapid, which is a very normal and common social fear. But the truth is usually a better choice. It gives the other person an opportunity to speak about something they know. And, you avoid any chance of looking like a fraud. That said, you will always find someone who will snub you because you don’t know about some latest trend. That’s just what those people do to inflate their self-importance. This industry is full of people like that. Let it roll off your back, then move on to someone with more brains than ego.

After you’ve attended a fabulous event and personally connected with a bunch of people, it’s time to follow up with an email. Do this the next day. No matter how busy you are, even if you have to stay up past your bedtime, follow up the next day. The two most common types of follow-up are; “Great to meet you, you know you love me and everything that I do,” and, “Great to meet you, if you could connect me to that person you know that can do great things for me, that would be awesome.”

Here’s an example of an email for the first type of follow-up:

Hi Lou,
I enjoyed meeting you at the event last night and hearing about your time in Barbados.

If you don’t mind I’d like to check in with you every so often to keep you updated with my latest work. I would love an opportunity to work with you one day soon.

Here’s the link to my web site.

http://blinkbid.com

Best regards,

Jay Flo
jay@blinkbid.com
310-555-1212

The email above is short, includes some context of where we met, what we chatted about, offers a link and quick exit.

Here’s an example of an email for the second type of follow-up:

Hi Lou,
I enjoyed meeting you at the event last night and hearing about your time in Barbados.

Thank you for your offer to introduce me to Gabrielle Kentfield. Her company produces the kind of products that I love to shoot. I think she would be impressed with my work.

Here’s the link to my web site.
http://blinkbid.com

Thanks
Jay Flo
jay@blinkbid.com
310-555-1212

Again, the email is short and concise. It has a splash of confidence and, most importantly, it has all the information necessary so the email can be forwarded. The more work you do to make it easier for them to execute a favor, the better.

Where most people fail utterly is the follow-up to the introduction. For all the people for whom I’ve arranged introductions, the ones that stay on my radar are the ones who send me the following type of email.

Hi Lou,
Thank you for the introduction to Gabrielle Kentfield. She was kind enough to meet with me and was enthusiastic about asking me to bid on her next campaign.

I hope this note finds you well.

Sincerely,
Jay Flo

Notice the inclusion of the last name of the contact. It is again, a simple method for providing context for the busy recipient of the email.

One thing that was tough for me to learn was that many of the connections you make don’t need to end up being friendships. It’s too much work. It was a valuable lesson I learned after I got my first meeting to pitch a TV show. The meeting went well, and I was going to need an agent. A friend of mine was a studio head and called in a favor. Next thing I knew I had a meeting with an agent at ICM Partners in Los Angeles. Nervous as hell, I showed up at his office and was greeted with the following:

“Hi Lou, I looked at your commercial directing reel and it’s nothing special, but Lori asked me to meet with you and I’m not about to say ‘no’ to her. The treatment that you wrote for the TV show has some legs, but until it’s turned into a pilot script it has very little value to me. Still, I don’t want to miss an opportunity. So, let me know how things progress. I will not answer your phone calls, but I will return your emails. As you communicate with me keep in mind that I’m not interested in being your friend, only in making you a good deal that benefits the both of us. Thank you for coming, Mark will validate your parking.”

I’ll leave you with these last thoughts. This is a business replete with rejection. It is a fact of creative life and it happens no matter where you sit on the hierarchical ladder. The sooner you can partially numb yourself from the sting of rejection, the quicker you can get back out into the fray. Always keep in mind, the more connections you can gather, the better your odds.

Thank you Lou for your insights and great advice.  It is no wonder BlinkBid is such a success.  If you want to learn more about Lou and what a great tool he has created for our industry, check out this link.  And, thank you Mark Laita for the use of your imagery.

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One thought on “Lou Lesko of BlinkBid Fame Explains Why Social Media is Useless Without Real World Connections

  1. Pingback: Weekend Reading 7.14.2017 - asmp

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