By binger0 Tue Sep 14, 2004 6:04 am
Phatz wrote:9 Simple Steps You MUST Take To Guarantee That You Make The Connection When Networking Within The Music Industry!
Recently someone asked, "How do I Network?"
They said they know they should talk to the 'right people' and they know about press kits but they weren't sure about how they should behave or what to do when it came to meeting with the folks that might be able to make things happen.
Here's a list of things to consider each day as you're out in the world:
First, don't seem TOO 'needy'. Yeah, you're desperate for that gig or recording contract but clingy, begging people are just annoying and sometimes perceived as high maintenance. So even if you're on your last dollar don't appear uptight about getting a deal - relax and breathe.
Talk to people everywhere you go and ask what they do. This doesn't mean grab everyone in the checkout line to play twenty questions. What it means is become a conversationalist. Talk to the woman with the kid in a shopping cart. Who knows? Her brother might run a studio or have a friend who's a music reviewer. Networking literally means connecting one point to another so that mom might be the 'dot' to someone that can help you.
Break the Ice. Again, don't play twenty questions with the checkout line 'mom'. Ease into the conversation by asking how old the child is. Maybe you have a nephew the same age or you can relate a story when they were that age. Perhaps you were that age when you had your first fishing trip with your dad. Point is, always think of an opening based on what you know about them on the 'surface'. But let's say there is no child there. If they sit down a box of your favorite cereal, casually mention it to them. Little things can open up a conversation and look for ways to keep the conversation going. That means listening, which we'll get into more detail below.
Have materials on hand and be ready to take the next step. Always, always, always carry business cards and hand them out. Also make sure to always carry a working pen. Let's use shopping cart mom as an example: During the chit-chat let her know you're an artist. If nothing else maybe you'll be able to make a CD sale but then again perhaps she mentions a business connection. Be bold, and polite, and ask if you can follow up by getting the contact person's name and information. Suggest that you'd like to send the contact some material but ask if she might let them know you spoke. Also ask for mom's name by saying something like, "Can I get your name so I can tell Roger who referred me? I don't want to be rude and just send him something." Chances are you'll get at least a first name and how they know 'Roger'. Write it down as soon as you're alone so you don't forget when you call or send your query letter. Sometimes getting your foot in the door really isn't about what you know but who you meet.
Become a good listener. Ask people questions and, here's the tough part, listen to what they say. People can usually tell if someone is genuinely interested in them or just killing time so get involved. Listen to the answers and keep the chat going. As with the 'cereal' comment, maybe she says she hates the brand she's buying but her husband and kids who love it. Uh oh, what do you do? Well, ask her what she likes or talk about how your mother used to make a certain supper dish for the family but never ate it herself because she didn't like it. Bottom line is you need to 'think on your feet' to keep the conversation going. Remember these two points: listen to what people tell you and continue to look for a common ground with them.
Learn to communicate. If you find you have a hard time communicating, starting conversations, etc. take a continuing education class at a local college or high school to sharpen your skills. Sometimes they offer classes in body language too which can be helpful on two levels - you'll be conscious of how you look to people and you'll be more observant and learn if they are really listening to you too.
Stay in touch with people that might not be able to help you right now. Perhaps 'Roger, the brother of check out mom' is a label executive. He likes your sound and enjoyed talking to you but he can't take on any more acts at the moment. That doesn't mean you totally discredit him. An opening might come up and if you stay in contact with friendly conversation from time to time guess who'll get the first call? Remember, don't burn bridges.
Mirror practice and role-play. If you're in a band do a mock network meeting to practice your skills. You don't want to sound dry when you talk to people like you're giving a canned speech but role playing helps you get comfortable with talking to people and, more importantly, talking about yourself without coming off as pompous (or nervous). If you don't have anyone to 'rehearse' with, talk to yourself in the mirror. Okay, your neighbors might think you've gone insane if they hear you carrying on a conversation with yourself but talking out loud (and in a mirror) does help to notice how you sound and look in social situations.
Follow up on leads. Sounds elementary but that means following up on EVERY lead, no matter how big or small it might seem. Sometimes in life the biggest rewards come from the smallest of beginnings so don't blow off any chance at promotion and exposure no matter how tiny it might seem.
You might think networking comes naturally to some people, a.k.a 'social butterflies'. They basically breeze in and out of conversation, from one person to the next, in what seems to be effortless behavior. Just remember, all behavior is learned and you can learn too.