questionmarkI’m a twenty-five year old aspiring TV writer living in LA. After a friend of mine sent my spec pilot to a few people, one (who works at a cable channel) said she’d like to set a general meeting with me to discuss my writing and the upcoming pilot season.

This will be the first time someone is acknowledging me as a writer rather than as an assistant (my boss is kind enough to let me take off work for the meeting). Do you have any advice for how one should conduct oneself in such a meeting? They’ve already passed on picking up the pilot, and staffing season hasn’t started yet, so it appears that this is just a “get to know you” meeting. Should I prepare pitches for alternate projects? Do I dress casual or professional? What should I do as far as follow-up goes?

— James

I have much more extensive answers to your questions in two previous posts, How to Meet and What to do in a general meeting. But for newcomers, I can offer a bit of a summary.

Your goal in a general meeting is to figure out what they might be able to hire you to write — if not now, then at some point in the future. They want to put a face with the name with the words they’ve read.

At a certain point, they’ll talk about the kinds of projects they have in development, and the things they’re looking for. If anything sparks, pursue it. Talk about it in the room, then follow up the next day, and the next week. You’ll be chasing a lot of half-baked projects, most of which will never come to be. But one or two might. And that’s what you need.

Your advantage at this point is that you’re cheap and available. A producer could likely hire you with discretionary funds to rewrite a mediocre project she has sitting on the shelf. A show might bring you on at the lowest level of staff writer. And if that opportunity comes up, take it. Do an amazing job, then let that momentum carry you into your next assignment. And your next.

You don’t have to put on a suit. In fact, it’s better to be the worst-dressed person in the room.

My overall advice is to not freak out over any given meeting. Pretend it’s just having coffee with somebody who went to your same school. Unless you’re pitching a specific project, don’t approach it with any particular expectation — simply enthusiasm — and it’s likely to go fine.