Make Emily Post proud

manners
White gloves are, of course, optional

A few months ago, after connecting with another writer on a networking site, I asked my usual get-to-know-you question – “How are your latest projects coming along?”

Their response: “Good. You can read these (2) copyrighted scripts HERE (link). Also looking into setting up some table reads.”

Sometimes this happens. I ask somebody how it’s going, they give a brief, no-nonsense answer, and that’s it. No “How about you?” Hey, it’s cool. I understand. You’re not interested in being social. No big deal. (Although it does defeat the purpose of this whole “networking” thing.)

My standard procedure after that is to let things drop, which I did.

Until a month later.

This same person sent me a boilerplate notice regarding something else, so I decided to try again.

“How’d the table reads go?”

“Still waiting for funding. Still haven’t read my screenplays yet, have you?”

Um, was I supposed to?

I looked over our previous exchange. Nope. No request to “please read my screenplays”. Just “this is where you can read them”, plus the emphasis on them being copyrighted, to no doubt put the kibosh on any potential IP theft on my part.

This was also just after I’d started my 10-day writing marathon, so I had absolutely no time to read anything. I said I hadn’t read them, and was currently involved with some really big projects.

That did not sit well with them, at least from their perspective.

“Figured this is the pat response I always get when I try to start a conversation here. If you ever join OTHER NETWORKING SITE, let me now (sic). That’s where I network the most and actually find fellow creatives to work with. Here, not so much.”

And that was that.

Huh? Did I miss something? They were starting a conversation with me? Apparently I was the latest in a long line of someone giving what they considered to be a lame excuse as to why I hadn’t read their material, which I supposedly said I would.

I considered responding with some kind of harshly-worded retort, but opted not to. It simply wasn’t worth the time or effort. In fact, up until I started writing this post, I hadn’t even thought about them since, and will have most likely forgotten about them by this time tomorrow.

I’ve covered this subject before, and am compelled to do so again.

A big part of this industry is establishing and maintaining relationships.

It is extremely important for you to be a nice person. To everybody.

Granted, not everybody is going to reciprocate, but you’re much more likely to make a good impression if you’re friendly, polite, and professional. Both in person and online. People will remember that.

And they will also remember it if you’re not. Establish a reputation for being a pompous, know-it-all jerk, then that’s how people will perceive you, which will severely reduce your chances of somebody wanting to work with you a second time (providing they survive the first).

When you initially connect with somebody and a conversation develops, take the initiative  and make it about them. Ask how their projects are going. In theory, they’ll answer and ask about yours. Be friendly, inquisitive, and encouraging. I’ve made a lot of good contacts and gotten to know a lot of extremely talented writers that way.

Added bonus  – Your network of writing associates has the potential to be a virtual support team. Part of why my writing’s improved over the past few years is a direct result of receiving quality notes from many of these writers, and I’ve always been totally willing to return the favor.

And they’re also there for you in the rough times. If I announce some disappointing news, I can always rely on receiving a lot of sympathetic and encouraging comments to remind me I’m not alone in this, and that a lot of folks (none of whom I’m related to) believe in my abilities.

All of this from being a nice person!

But, as exemplified in my little anecdote from earlier, sometimes a connection just doesn’t happen. If somebody doesn’t seem interested, don’t push it. Wish them the best and move on. There are a lot of other writers out there for you to meet.

And they’ll probably think you’re just as fantastic as I do.

16 thoughts on “Make Emily Post proud

  1. Paul,
    “How are your latest projects coming along?” I’m seriously asking you this in case I have been remiss in asking that recently. As an example of being nice, when I finished the “Genre Summit” workshop, I emailed the guy who put it together to thank him for his hard work & the quality of the speakers. He emailed me back to remind me that one of the speakers ( a successful screenwriter) is willing to read scripts & to contact him. I had forgotten about the writer’s offer. Yup, play nice & keep writing.
    Jim

  2. Paul, you are one of the good guys. This is evident by your use of restraint from responding. I often think to myself, if I met someone at a party, would my first action be to stick a business card in their face and ask them to read something? We would think this is rude, but somehow doing this online is acceptable. I get busy and don’t often spend much time networking as I should, but I do value all the relationships I have made with other writers over the years. I would be happy to share with you on the progress of my projects. Keep moving forward. Boomer Murrhee

    • Boomer – don’t worry. Another Project Status Update post is looming. Love that business card analogy. I may have to start using it (with all credit given to you, naturally).

  3. Getting reader book reviews is about as easy as taking teeth from a live shark. I asked a book blogger for one in May and never heard back. Monday, I found their “verified purchase” review on Amazon. I sent a note yesterday, thanking them. Sometimes you get very lucky.

  4. Well said Paul. I’m always nice or civil and when I’m annoyed or want to say/write something that’s rude or angry, I refrain. There’s nothing to gain and there are so many mean spirited people who hide behind being anonymous on the Internet.

    • I don’t think they were being mean. Maybe just not up to speed on social norms. Nor were they anonymous.

  5. ****RE DONE DEAL PRO
    Yes, be nice to people. But why did we have all these very hostile LOSER posters on Done Deal Pro. Some of them were pure evil. And now they are zero and havn’t sold a script because they done nothing. Is Done Deal breeding zeros. Your post should be read by those guys at Done Deal creating multiple accounts taking to themselves. And being hostile to those that have a better chance.
    Do you agree.
    Marylin

  6. I know we have to be nice.
    But why did some people at Done Deal Pro
    behave unprofessionally. And hurt others verbally and wrote lots of bad things toward others?
    You posted your article on Done Deal Pro.
    But I printed all the past posts from very vile people
    who use to post on Done Deal. Typical losers they were.
    And I heard that Done Deal is for losers.

    Sincerely,
    Marylin

    • I don’t go on DDP as much as I used to, mostly due to the “I know better than you, therefore you’re an idiot” vibe that more than a few users seemed to have. The anonymity doesn’t help, either.

      My advice is to use it only if/when you need to. There are a lot of other online resources available, including several worthwhile screenwriting groups on Facebook.

      Hang in there.

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