Networking matters more than you might think. Your skill level and/or knowledge as it relates to the music industry won’t mean a thing if you are unable to network. Relationships mean more in music than virtually anything else. You’re more likely to be asked who you know and what you’ve done with or for them in an interview than where you went to college or what GPA you had in school. That is because to succeed in this industry you need strong work relationships, and the only way to develop those is by networking with your peers.
But here’s the thing: Networking is not easy. To network, you have to squash whatever ego and anxiety you have, approach strangers, and engage them in a discussion. You have to step outside of your comfort zone, so to say, but if you do the rewards can be great.
No one can do the work for you. If someone did, you wouldn’t be networking. Someone else would be networking, and you would be someone that was mentioned in passing. You don’t want that. You want to be someone who leaves a good impression, one that invites future discussion and interaction.
Here are some tips to get you started….
- Dress for the role you want. You probably won’t need a three-piece suit to network, but you do want to look professional.
- Seek out places and opportunities to engage with others who have similar interests as you. Concerts do not count.
- Try and stay focused on the person you’re speaking to by resisting the urge to brag about yourself. Make them feel like the most important person to you in the world at that moment, and they will not forget the attention.
- Ask as many questions as you are able, but stay on topic. You need to know what a person does, who they do it with, and what they hope to accomplish in the future. You don’t need to know their favorite color or what they had for lunch that day. Be friendly, yet focused.
- Only offer your business card if you are asked for it. Otherwise, request information from the person you’re talking to and accept the responsibility of following up. You need them more than they need you, so you shouldn’t place the task of keeping up with you on them.
- If you recognize the person before speaking, make sure you know what you want to ask before approaching them. Keep the conversation casual at first, not to mention focused on them, but always be looking for an opportunity to make your request. If they decline or change the subject, move on for the time being and consider asking again once you’re better acquainted.
- Be careful to not come across as creepy or otherwise stalking a person. Don’t approach someone if they’re already busy. Don’t stare at someone from across a room without approaching them. Don’t ask too many personal questions the first time you speak. In short, keep things casual.