You’ve probably heard the expression ‘It’s not what you know, its who you know’. If you are developing a career in the media or creative industries this certainly seems to be true.
Certainly, your contacts and your ability to network is going to help you progress in a highly competitive industry. However, it is easier said than done.
I had an interesting discussion with MA Media students yesterday about the challenges and difficulties associated with networking, particularly when you are new to an area.
No one argues that networking is not important and there is quite a bit of information out there such as Creative Choices tips for networking creatively. But how do you get in the network? Who opens the first door for you? You can turn up to an event but students argues that you need someone to introduce you.
David Lee’s research paper entitled Networks, cultural capital and creative labour in the British indepdendent television industry examines networking practices including mechanisms for excluding individuals. He suggests that social networks are important and describes them as relatively informal. They depend on one’s cultural capital based on class, education, location and socio-economic status. He states:
While social capital is the vital ingredient in terms of negotiating the precarious nature of freelance labour market in the independent television industry, cultural capital acts as the means by which an individual amasses this social capital, and gains access to the resources of the network.
Discussions about networking, as it relates to enterprise, tend to focus on ‘how to’. Would it be useful to also take a critical look at networks and networking? At least to raise awareness? Even if it is a necessary evil!
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