Why Being Good At What You Do Won’t Get You Employed

Call it a hangover from school, but whenever someone asks me to have a meeting with them – and specifically uses that word, “meeting” – I always assume I’m in trouble.

Boss Dog

Even if the person calling it is, as was the case on this occasion, a former colleague who, at the time, I didn’t know all that well.


What in fact happened was that I was offered a job.

A pretty sexy job at that, on a project that turned out to be a worldwide hit.

And a job for which I had ZERO previous experience.


A little background

I had worked briefly with Iain Morris at Xfm (the radio station that I told you about here).
He co-presented Jimmy Carr’s show, which was on after mine on a Sunday.

I’d usually take forever to put away all my cds in the studio (it was 2007, but we were still a little behind), and chit-chat with them.


One morning, Iain asked about my new music mailer – I’d mentioned it on air, earlier.

Later that day, I sent him an email reminding him about it, and asking whether I could add him to the mailing list. He said yes.


The (non-) ominous meeting

Several months down the line, I got the summons to a production office in Soho.

Crammed around a table in a dark room, he, his writing partner, and two producers all looked at me.


“We’ve written a TV show, a comedy that we’re making for E4”, they said.

“How would you feel about choosing the music?”.

Um. I’ve literally never done anything like this in my life before”, I told them.

I wondered whether I was shooting myself in the foot, but didn’t want to set any false expectations.

I would basically be making it up as I go along”.

That’s fine. We don’t have the budget to give you a ton of money. But we can give you a nice credit at the end of the show”.

Now, like any normal person, the idea of being on the end credits of a TV show made me feel faint with excitement.

All through my working career, I’ve been thrilled by any job that is one I pretended to do as a kid.

I’m not even just talking about doing voice-overs, or introducing records;

The first cinema I ever worked in had one of those old-fashioned signs, where you had to slide each letter in. Each time it was my turn, I felt like Carol Vorderman in Countdown.

Long story short, the show ended up doing rather well

– if you’re impressed by, say, a couple of million viewers per episode, a multitude of TV and comedy awards, the highest ratings of all time on its home channel E4, an MTV USA remake, and it being made into a film that broke UK Box Office records.

And I was kept on as the Music Supervisor for all three series of The Inbetweeners, and Music Consultant on the movie.

If someone offers you a job, pushes some work your way, or puts in a good word for you, it’ll be because they think you’re good at what you do.

But a LOT of people are good at a lot of what you do.

This is no diss to you – there are very few people in the world whose work involves a set of entirely unparalleled skills.**

And you are, of course, unique in your own way, have your own special way of doing things, etc etc etc.

But it’s pretty likely that much of the work you do could have been done to a similar level by another person on the planet.

So why would someone put work YOUR way and not the way of that other person (or those people)?

Because they’ve heard of you.

They know who you are, and they know that you do this kind of work.

(Hopefully, they also know you’re not a dick.

Remember how I said rule number one of networking is “Don’t be a dick”? It’s important. DBAD)

So how do you get the referrer to have heard of you and your work?

How do you make the Iain Morrises of the world – people who might one day employ you for a sexy job, or send business your way – aware of you and your services, skills and things you love to do for work?

Can you guess what I’m going to say here?

(go on, whisper it to the computer)

That’s RIGHT!

You send them “nice to meet you” emails!

Or ‘nice to see you’ ones.

(Or even messages that subtly get across, “I know you’ve never heard of me before, but I’m worth being aware of”. More on these next week)

If you’ve been following, you’ll know that networking is NOT about schmoozing.

It’s not about arrogantly talking about how AMAZING you are.

It’s not about slime-ing up to the most important people and fake-ly telling them you LOVE what they do.

It’s about building genuine relationships with people


my use of the term “relationship” can be very loose.

At it’s core, “two people who have a relationship with each other”, can mean:

two people who are aware of what each other do, and whether each other are nice enough people”.

If someone doesn’t know who you are, how will they they know to put work your way?

(Tweet that here!)

In the post I’m linking to in this sentence, I show youan example of a “nice to meet you” email.

Short, unobtrusive, and a place-holder.

It enables you:

(a) to be on that person’s radar, in case some work comes up that you would be just right for


(b) to be able to re-contact him or her – and have it not be a cold call.

Does this actually work?

(a) From my story above, clearly.

(b) This, I will talk about next week.

In the meantime,

Over To You

Have you ever had work sent your way from someone you just met?

Or have you ever bought a service from or recommended someone you’d only recently met or heard about?

Let me know in the comments below, or by clicking here!

Thanks for reading. If all this made you think of someone else (or you’re keen to let your online buds know about this stuff) you can share by clicking on one of the round buttons below.

You rule,

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha


PS I talked about how I went about choosing the music for the Inbetweeners on my first ever proper blog, called (appropriately) http://hereifyouareinterested.blogspot.com


*PPS the only exception I can think of is the amazing Willard Wigan http://www.willard-wigan.com/gallery.aspx



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