The art of cultivating business connections

In business, your connections are important. You've maybe heard that line "It's not what you know, it's who you know?" Well that line is true in a lot of industries and especially relevant in the entertainment industry. In the entertainment industry, your network is everything. But also equally important is knowing how to use that network in a effective way as an individual, team or company.

So, it's what you know and who you know that is important. In the case of Virgin Produced, our network could help us find the next breakthrough content idea or something as simple as a recommendation for a crew member on the next production. For our company, this is especially important in the world of attracting talent (actors, writers and directors) to our films, TV concepts or advertisements. Your network and connections are important. Cultivating those connections is the art form that is even more important.

At Virgin Produced, the connections begin in our office - from our amazing team members who have a 20+ year history (some more) in the industry to our extensive network of support staff and interns (both current and former).

Mentorship means mentorship 

I'm extremely proud of the internship program we have at Virgin Produced. Since the start of our program five years ago, we’ve had more than 50 interns. We take great steps to ensure that nobody feels taken advantage of and that the interns’ hard work and willingness to take tasks on behalf of the company is appreciated. We avoid this by following the simple rule: Don’t ask the interns to do something that you wouldn’t do (and let them see you doing the same task at some point before you ever ask them). This has fostered a trust in the industry for our company/brand and because of that, thankfully, our application process for our internship program has become, well, a process within itself.

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We provide Virgin Produced interns with real world experience by having them join us on set and inviting them to sit in on meetings. Perhaps the interns most enjoy their end of term "pitch fest" to our executives. When their internship is completed, we register them in an active job board and alumni group that allows us to stay well connected as they move forward in their careers.  In fact, we often hire from the job board when we need some extra staff on one of our projects.

Putting people first

Just like with our interns, we pride ourselves in putting our people first and foremost. Happy and fulfilled staff will ensure we have happy talent and in return a better product. That concerted effort speaks to not just Virgin Produced, but also the efforts of Richard Branson and the entire Virgin Group family.

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The insular nature of the media industry means that eventually everyone works together. "My boss is my former barista" is a joke heard throughout Hollywood. There’s a serious truth that underlies the joke, however. The meritocracy of media can mean a stratospheric rise by someone who was an unknown years – or even months – before. So it is important to treat everyone with respect and keep in contact, as you never know where you or they will be in the future.

We also feel the need to draw a distinction from the Hollywood stereotype that many outside the media industry hold of media companies. Hollywood has a mixed reputation in both the financial and creative space and we work hard to provide a positive experience to talent and any investors equally. We ensure a great experience both internally and externally.

Blurred lines

It is clear that the lines between media are blurring. Beyond the Virgin operating companies' diversity and breadth of operations, more and more of these companies (and we aren't the only brand) are bringing brand work in-house to creatively build breakthrough content/digital campaigns and own the deployment of advertising content to their respective consumers. We’ve noticed that companies are beginning to see the value in having a dedicated team that understand what they’re pitching and who they’re speaking to.

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We proudly work with over a dozen Virgin companies worldwide in creating their individual brand campaigns. Those connections in their own right allow us ensure brand authenticity and provide those companies a service that is cost efficient, collaborative and now multi-award winning. Working with all of the companies in this capacity is just as valuable as the entertainment experiences we create for their respective consumers. It also allows us to keep Richard consistently informed as well as Virgin Group's new Global Head of Brand, Lisa Thomas.

Finding a dedicated team that can speak to the strengths of your brand means deep, insightful work that resonates with consumers and producers alike. Virgin Produced is uniquely positioned to have an impact due to our relationships in Entertainment. Our work with talent and celebrities help to provide that unique experience to our partners - especially our Virgin sister companies. Virgin consumers expect the brand will provide these experiences and we work hard to deliver.  We utilize our relationships to secure top talent for projects like the Virgin America Safety Video. We also use them to provide "money can’t buy" consumer experiences that resonate - tickets to our latest movie premiere, on set visits, exclusive advanced screenings, contests, promotions and much more. To date we’ve launched over 30 consumer-facing promotions targeted at our loyal brand fans.

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Riding the wave of the future

The new normal means that the interconnectedness we see across industries and people isn’t going anywhere - and the companies that recognise this stand at an advantage. We’ve taken hard steps at Virgin Produced to ensure that we leverage our tremendous relationships effectively to ensure quality projects and experiences on every occasion. Virgin Produced celebrates its sixth year of business in August. Be sure to check out what we've been up to at www.virginproduced.com - in truly Hollywood fashion, our website just had a nice little facelift.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

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