Strategies and methods for networking, even in lockdown.
Networking is the key to unlocking doors of opportunity within the music industry. Whether it be through meeting your next music collaboration or striking up a conversation with a label executive – meeting people outside of your circle of influence is important to your career because they could bring value and opportunities which can’t be found on your own.
Although, during a time where events have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 lockdown, it can be hard to meet new people. As well as this, networking can be scary, awkward and a difficult skill to master.
Fortunately, there are several strategies within networking which can mitigate the initial awkwardness, allow you to network even in lockdown and bridge the gap between your career and its next success.
You’ve all heard that first impressions count, but did you know why? Let’s explore the psychology and theory behind meeting new people.
The Psychology of Networking
Unfortunately, as humans, we have the survival mechanism of deciding what we think of someone new within just 3 seconds of meeting them! People make assumptions based on the clothes you wear, your appearance, how successful you are and how aggressive you are.
Psychologists call this “Thin Slicing.”
Other people’s assumptions of you is also based on your status and wealth. In a small study conducted by Dutch researchers they found that “people wearing name-brand clothes — Lacoste and Tommy Hilfiger, to be precise — were seen as higher status and wealthier than folks wearing non-designer clothes”
Their research concluded that no other social dimensions affected this outcome. Not even attractiveness, kindness or trustworthiness, just status and wealth. Now this sounds shallow, but it is an instinctual process to help protect us and determine whether or not someone is endangering our survival. Fortunately, we can hack this instinct to be perceived as a valuable member of the music industry through our fashion and social skills.
“If you’ve ever wondered why businessmen and women always wear a suit, this is why.”Infinite Vibrations
You can achieve an instant rapport with someone if you wear a suit. When you wear a suit, you automatically convey success to somebody. It symbolizes that you are succeeding, and this has a big effect on people. But don’t think that you must be a stiff and dress formal everyday – especially in the music industry, as we tend to be more expressive and relaxed when it comes to wearing a uniform. However, a t-shirt/blazer combo can achieve the same effect whilst blending casual/formal attire.
On top of this, you can convince many people of your value by the way you speak. By being slightly more expressive and maybe a little more dramatic, you can make people take notice of what you are saying, just by the way you are saying it. As well as this, if you want to make a point, then less is more. If you’re naturally a quiet person than this can play to your advantage. Timing is everything and if can say something at the right time – it can leave a big impact.
Now you know how to network with new people, it’s time to learn where to network.
Where to network in the music industry
There are many places to network within the music industry. From social media to supporting your local music scene or straight-up attending networking events; Here’s 6 gates into networking
There has never been so much freedom to networking than there is on social media, especially during the current times, where everything has been converted to digital events due to the coronavirus. Some of the best platforms for networking are Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and LinkedIn.
Facebook gives you access to groups where you can pose questions, engage in a discussion and learn more about a specific topic in the music industry. Try searching for “(your location) music scene” or “(your location) musicians” as well as broader search terms such as “music producers” or “musician support group” and join these groups.
Initially you may be reluctant to post or comment in these groups but once you feel confident enough, remembering the internet can be a cruel place so wear your tough skin, you should give your thoughts and opinions to these groups, who will then recognise that you are delivering value to them and return the favour when you need it.
Instagram is the underdog of networking via social media. There aren’t many people who see this platform as a mainstream form of networking, which can make meeting new people a fresh experience.
The first method to use on this platform is to “slide into DM’s” and whilst this may be a meme; it is also a great way to introduce yourself to new individuals. However, copy and pasting a mass message to loads of people about your new song is a definite way to get ignored or even blocked. You need to engage with these accounts before you message them. Give them a complement or ask them a constructive question and engage in a real, meaningful conversation. Get to know them before you talk about your music.
As well as this, you should really explore hashtags on this platform. Look at the hashtags you are posting and then look at the hashtags your influencers are posting. Find the comparisons and then try to piggyback onto these hashtags and engage with other people who are posting the same or similar hashtags as you. This way can discover new people within your field of music and strike up connections all over the world.
Reddit can be a great source of making new connections as their sub-reddit pages act like Facebook groups. Here you can find like-minded musicians and even some industry operatives, especially if they are doing a Reddit AMA (QnA).
You can search for specific genres and strike up conversation in a relatively anonymous way, in case you feel anxious about meeting new people. Remember, we have been told since birth that we shouldn’t speak to strangers, so it’s no wonder networking can feel weird at times, but this can be a great way around the anxieties of beginning to network.
Lastly, LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for networking. This is because it eliminates some of the social barriers surrounding the balance between professionalism and friendliness. It does this because LinkedIn as a platform is built for professionals to network with each other and inherently sets that precedent that if you reach out to someone, you assume they are trying to meet and network with you.
As well as this, LinkedIn has seen organic growth boom due to its lateness to developing an advertisement service, meaning there is a lot of opportunity for people to naturally discover you without having to put that extra legwork into marketing and promotion. But, don’t think this will last forever, as LinkedIn will soon follow suit with Facebook in that they will try to charge you for ad space in order to reach a wider audience.
5. Supporting your local music scene
“Speak to other musicians in your scene as they will know who the promoters are, who the venue owners are, who the recording studios are and pretty much every contact you need to push your career from the bedroom and into the limelight”Infinite Vibrations
This is arguably the most important form of networking, especially in the early stages of your career. If you’re lucky enough to have a bustling music scene in your town or near where you live, then this will be the bouncing board which will propel your career forward. This is because any good musician or band has always started out surrounding themselves with their local scene and seeking the support of friends and family.
Your local music scene are the first people who will support you and your music so you should make a conscious effort to become a part of it. Play as many shows as possible in this location and people will begin to recognise you as a house-hold name. As well as this, you should be proud to represent where you come from, as when you begin to spread your wings into other territories, these are the people who will remember you and shout about you from the roof-tops.
Try to meet at least 3-4 people every time you go to your local venue, because you never know who you could be speaking with and who they know themselves. Just remember not to push your music on them straight away. This is because, if they are not working, they are probably on their down-time and want to relax rather than talk business. Engage in small talk to begin with, test the waters and then proceed to introduce your music to them. This way you are demonstrating that you want to get to know them instead of just using them to further your career.
6. Conferences and networking events
Once you have begun to take these first small steps into networking, you are then ready for the big leagues. Conferences and networking events are the crème-de-la-crème for gaining contacts in the music industry. This is because these events are organized for the sole purpose of meeting and engaging with other people and wider communities. They will often host a plethora of key industry figures such as: label executives, managers, promoters, successful musicians and enterprises which aim to help musicians. Here you can meet people who will make a BIG difference to the success of your career.
As with any networking opportunity, it is best to prepare beforehand, especially for these types of events. First, you should identify who you want to make a connection with, who is attending this event? Choose 2-3 people within your field of music and learn about them, what are their likes/dislikes? Do they have a favorite drink? The more information you know about your desired contact the more points of conversation you will have. Ask them if they would like their favorite drink and go and buy it for them. If there’s something that they dislike then avoid a discussion about that or if you’re feeling confident, demonstrate your knowledge by engaging in a debate about it – just remember to remain courteous.
On top of this, you need to make sure your web presence is in order. This is because if someone you meet goes to search you online, you need to have an attractive and up-to date website and social media, otherwise they might lose interest. To help encourage your new friends to go online and check out your stuff, you should always have business cards to hand with your website and social media handles advertised on them. They’re relatively cheap to produce now-a-days and they can mean the difference between staying in contact with someone or remaining a stranger.
As well as this, you should follow-up each new contact with a nice message or email the morning after. This will show that you cared about the conversation and want to continue to develop the relationship outside of the event. Make sure you get the business card of the person you we’re speaking to, as well as handing out your own, so you can remember their contact details too.
Building and maintaining relationships
Once you have met someone new and made a connection with them post-event, it’s time to begin developing that relationship so you can benefit each other’s career.
“If you find networking hard or are struggling with making connections during lockdown, then you should come to one of our new Online Networking Events”Infinite Vibrations
I’m sure you’ve all heard the age-old saying “It’s not WHAT you know, its WHO you know” but it’s no good knowing someone if you don’t know how to speak to them in a professional yet friendly manner. Being simultaneously professional yet friendly at the same time is the art of networking.
It’s all about building a long-term mutually beneficial relationship. Investing time in developing a relationship with someone is one of the most important investments you can make in your career – and all its costs is your time and attention! This can be done by simply checking in on them every now and then or going to a coffee together, it doesn’t even have to be a business call. In fact, the more time you spend together as friends, the stronger your business relationship will be.
Remember, people invest in people first and music second, that’s also why fans want to engage with the person behind the music as well as just listening to the music. They want to know what you are like as a person, because if they like and relate to you on a human level then they are more likely to relate to your music. It’s the same with making industry connections. If they know the person behind the music, then they have a reason to care about your music and your career.
However, if you find networking hard or are struggling with making connections during lockdown, then you should come to one of our new Online Networking Events. The first one is completely free and will take place in September – Keep an eye on our social media (below) for new updates.
It’s the perfect opportunity to meet new industry figures, as we will have a guest attendee at every session, as well as network with like-minded musicians to skill-swap and discuss issues and topics in music.
Every session will include resources you can take from the event, a guest member of the music industry and grant you access to an exclusive networking group for musicians on Facebook, where we engage in discussion and promote safe and healthy networking opportunities for musicians.
How do you network? What are your tips and tricks for meeting new people? Share your thoughts down below and let us know what you think on social media by tagging us below.
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