Is there a fine line between networking and riding coattails? Not really. There is a broad band.
They can be related but only if some boundary is exceeded.
In my world, networking is simply connecting with others in my line of work. The degree of involvement can vary and that's where the confusion can manifest.
I found it's best when approaching people at a certain level that you keep it simple and direct. Be polite and tell them what you are about. Express your interest and appreciation for their work sure. But get to the point. Time wasted is time gone. If you are fortunate to get to know them, maybe there is time to chat.
On the other hand, if there is no direction or you just want to meet them or worst case hang with them, it's coattail time.
Most people realize for instance that actors are playing parts. They may have an interest in something the character represents. Or it might be the challenge of playing a part they could have in common with the actor.
Usually fans are happy to meet the person behind the character. Sometimes they are glad to see the actor is human and cares about the audience. It ends there.
If you are professional, that can usually be determined quickly. I've met industry people at conventions and conveyed to them what I'm doing. That is of course not to put the fans down. I'm one as well. It's simply to let the artist know where I'm coming from.
It's in the ballpark of the person you're approaching after you make contact. They may say sure call email etc to a contact. They may decline. If they do be businesslike and go on hoping to contact them at some other point perhaps through a mutual associate/friend.
Whatever you do, don't push. That old axiom about not being dull or desperate is remarkably true. Just be yourself and talk.
That last is from someone well known who wishes to remain anonymous at least in circumstances like these. I'm fortunate he knows I'm not coattailing him. Bob Wise and Pat McGoohan among others knew/know I'm on the level. That takes time and a buildup of trust. But to begin with, easy does it.
All of this and more applies to other facets of business and to other life endeavors as well.
As for those who are just plain dicks, walk on and don't give them another thought. Success is the best revenge -s-.
Most who are seemingly rude are usually protecting themselves. If there is a good reason later, you may deal professionally with them. And again if not, there are plenty of good professional folks to work with.
Lastly (for now lol), there will come a time when you will have to determine when people are trying to coattail or network.
Let experience, your own and others, especially friends, serve you as to which is which.
As for Facebook friends, I've mentioned it before and will again one day. It can be a different ball of wax.
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