My secret weapon for building my network

Let’s be honest…is there anything that we as creative professionals hate more than networking? Wouldn’t it be awesome to just do awesome work all the time and the right people would just magically discover that we are in fact awesome?

Unfortunately success doesn’t work that way. Being awesome is definitely part of the battle. But the other part that so many overlook is that in order to truly be successful, the right people need to know that you’re awesome. And that doesn’t happen by accident.

But luckily for you, friend, the ability to network and build relationships isn’t something you either genetically have or you don’t. No different than any creative craft, networking is a skill that can not only be practiced but also mastered. If you don’t believe me, ask any of the hundreds of students in my Optimizer coaching & mentorship program who have leveled up their networking skills to land the gig of their dreams (seriously…just wait until you hear the success story I have coming out in January…it’s INSANE).

I wholeheartedly believe that networking is a skill that anyone can master.

Even introverts.

While you might find it surprising, I’m an extreme introvert. It takes everything I’ve got to muster up the courage to go to any kind of in-person networking event, whether it’s a panel event, a screening, an awards show, a holiday party, or even just a fun informal meetup with friends & colleagues. And this has nothing to do with Covid, btw.

I’ve been socially distancing at the Olympic level my entire life.

No seriously…here’s an example: I’ve been staring at an invite for this year’s ACE Holiday Party for like two weeks now. I know I’m gonna go, and I know I’m gonna have a great time. But my lizard brain is still brainstorming 150 excuses to skip it (even though it’s often my favorite event of the year!). And the fact I have a ninja competition the same day isn’t a good enough excuse.

Here’s the bottom line: All I want to do is make awesome stuff. That’s it. Just let me create awesome stuff in my small dark room (I do prefer having windows though) and don’t ask me to go places. Like ever.

But unfortunately success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And I’ve learned that in order for me to achieve my goals, I can’t do so on my own. That’s why I choose to surround myself with the best mentors who are absolute experts in their respective crafts.

As I shared in last week’s newsletter (here’s a copy of you missed it), when it comes to my crazy-stupid goal of becoming an American Ninja Warrior, I’ve gone from having exactly zero contacts in the fitness industry to being coached & mentored by two fitness legends (Tony Horton, creator of P90X, and Jessie Graff, the female face of the sport).

Jessie Graff Zack Arnold and Tony Horton


These relationships were not built by accident. I am extremely careful and methodical about the people I choose to surround myself with in every facet of my life, because I wholeheartedly believe every word of the following quote from motivational speaker Jim Rohn:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

If your entire networking strategy consists of randomly showing up at industry events & mixers, your network by default will become those who show up. Or if your entire networking strategy consists of staying in touch with people you’ve worked with in the past (or even worse sending group messages with your resume attached every time you’re looking for the next gig), your network by default will become people doing the same kind of work you are already doing now.

If all you’re interested in is having more friends and/or doing more of the same work you’re doing now, then keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t allow me to derail your networking strategy.

But if you intend to surround yourself with people who can help you advance your career (or the quality of your life) to a totally different level, you need a secret weapon.

My secret weapon for building my network is…are you ready for it?

→ Cold emails.

No seriously…every single major career break I’ve had – and every single mentor that I have in my life now – all began with a single cold email.

Those two fitness legends pictured above? Both of those relationships started with a cold email.

Landing my first big break in television editing the #1 show on cable TV at the time (Burn Notice) started with a cold email (technically a Facebook message that quickly went to email).

And the last four seasons editing my dream show Cobra Kai began with…you guessed it…a cold email.

I’m not saying you’re gonna build relationships overnight with the people you most admire by sending them a single outreach message and hoping for the best.

Building genuine relationships is a game of chess, not checkers.

But even with as complicated as chess can be, every game starts with the first move. And your first move is likely a cold email to someone doing now what you hope to be doing next.

And the best part about cold emails being your main networking strategy is you can do it from your laptop in your pajamas! (BONUS: It’s also pandemic-proof!)

My Best Resources to Help You Craft the Perfect Outreach Message

If you’re staring down the barrel of another ‘Case of the Mondays’ feeling like there’s no way out, I promise that you’re a single outreach email away from starting a relationship that could completely change the game for you. Because a single, well-written email can literally change your entire life.

→ Why Writing Cold Emails Is the Most Important ‘Soft Skill’ You Must Master (Especially If You’re An Introvert)

→ The 5 Most Common Mistakes You’re Making With Your Cold Emails (and How to Fix Them)

→ Want a Response to Your Cold Emails? Then Every Message MUST Do These 5 Things

Be well.
Zack Arnold
Creator, Optimize Yourself

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”