Using Linkedin to Break into the Animation Industry & find a Mentor.
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Growing a network is a valuable asset no matter what industry you are working in . Of course, having the necessary skills is important, but if your work isn't getting noticed by the right people it can still be difficult to land your dream job. (or any job for that matter).
Being a self-taught animator can make this even more difficult! Considering the fact that you don't have the benefit of starting out your network at school with your classmates and teachers. You are the new kid on the block, nobody knows who you are or what you are all about. But the good news is, in today's digital age it is easier than ever to connect with an exponentially large number of people. Having even the smallest online presence is a great way to start introducing people to your work.
Linkedin has evolved into quite a useful tool for networking in the industry. I have personally used it to connect with all of my past and current employers. A lot more studios are posting job openings and reaching out on the platform.
My strategy for building my network revolves around the search bar.
I search for the studio that I am looking to apply at and usually they will have an info page. The example below is an animation studio in Toronto. Here is where they usually post job or studio updates, complete with instructions on where to send your reel. Checking in regularly can ensure that you are up to date on all the latest news.
Another cool feature is the "People also viewed" tab. Here is where you can find a bunch of similar studios, all with their own info pages and job openings, waiting for you to apply. When I am between jobs I spend a couple hours a day going through this tab and seeing who is hiring or who is ramping up for exciting new projects.
It is good to apply through a studio's email (they are pretty good at responding and you can be pretty confident that they will at least look at you reel). But a great way to start building actual human connections, is by looking at the "employees" tab.
Here you can click and see who is currently employed at the studio you are looking to work at. Directors, animators, recruiters, anyone! These are the people you will be working with in the studio. Now is the time to connect a face to your work and really make a lasting impression.
This is also a good way to get the answers to any questions that you may have from actual industry professionals. Don't know if your work is at a professional level? Ask for a quick review. Wondering what work life is like in a studio? Ask about the work culture or work life balance. I found that most people are willing to help if you ask nicely.
Of course there is a correct way to go about this. Spamming your reel to a bunch of busy professionals is not a very good strategy to leave a positive first impression. Be respectful and search for knowledge rather than a job. Being patient and focusing on creating lasting, meaningful relationships can really pay dividends in the future.
Happy Job Hunting!