One of the things that I enjoyed the most about working at LSU AgCenter was the community outreach and networking with so many community leaders. During this time I came to understand the tremendous value of relationship building and how it serves as a source to helping people accomplish great things. As a result, I have tapped into a wealth of connections that has span 15 years or more.
Networking is all about making those strong connections and building lasting, mutually, beneficial relationships. There is a beauty to the art of networking that I love. My experiences have taught me that people do business with individuals that they like and trust. But as a wise man once said, “You have to be able to decipher what is good and what is bad.”
I recently had the pleasure of watching first-hand how this magic can unfold, as well as how exceptional opportunities can present themselves through networking. It all began when I, Gisele Haralson, author, screenwriter, and founder of Follow Dreams Productions, was connected with Jim Johnson of Better Marketing Concepts. Mr. Johnson is a mastermind in the area of marketing and he suggested that I meet Gregory “Kawi” Thomas of Lights, Camera, Action, Acting Studio. Mr. Thomas is an ASCAP member, producer and former SGA/Aftra talent agent, and Grammy nominated writer.
With conversation bouncing back and forth; Mr. Thomas and I set a meeting date and he shared the ins and outs of the film industry as he knew it. It was at that meeting that I was invited to attend the grand opening of Lights, Camera, Action, Acting Studio that Mr. Thomas would be running. In turn I informed my business partner, Adrian Spurlock about the studio and asked him to join me. Other obligations prevented Mr. Spurlock from attending but Mr. Johnson made the 4 hour drive from Texas to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to show his support. We were giving a grand tour of the studio, and I must say I was very impressed with the space.
As I moved from on event to the next and began winding down from what had been a long but eventful day. I found myself negotiating the usage of the acting studio for the final taping of a domestic violence campaign I had been asked to be a part of.
My mission and goal as I corresponded with Mr. Thomas about the space was to connect him with a great group of business people. I felt the collaboration with the team of individuals that was being bought to the table would be very beneficial to the overall marketing of the studio.
I had met Derrius Montgomery at another domestic violence event- he explained that he was in marketing and I revealed that I was a writer who had published two books and had completed a screenplay that I was interesting in pitching. Mr. Montgomery is the CEO of J Braxton Media, which is a lifestyle marketing company whose expertise is connecting people to lifestyle where they work, live and play. After a brief discussion; we thought there might be some common grounds of interest; therefore we set a meeting for the following week.
Mr. Montgomery invited Adrain Spurlock, the founder of Fresh Wave Media and a very well connected gentleman within the film industry in Louisiana. We proceed to explain each of our goals and how if any way they could merge. One meeting led to another, and within a short period of time I realized that I had everything I needed to produce my screenplay.
At that moment I connected with Fresh Wave Media and we began the process of working together to develop a motion picture entitled The Art of the Chase. It is my desire to partner with Light, Camera, Action, Acting Studio to do acting auditions- which in turn will drive foot traffic through the studio giving aspiring actors an opportunity to develop their skills.
Networking is all about developing relationships with interesting and influential people regardless of the immediate benefit of these relationships. What I learned early in my career was that relationships are the catalyst for success and much of my success has been shaped by the wonderful connections that I have made. Although by no means do I consider myself as an expert in networking; I do know that there is a power that cannot be denied.