Look around and see who your friends are.
What do you like about them?
I bet your conversations flow – as you share a lot of common interests.
You feel comfortable with each other – because they accept you for who you are.
You won’t get bored after spending an hour drinking beer with them – because they are just so funny.
Networking is not different to making friends.
When you feel like you’re making too much of an effort to connect with someone – it means you’re trying too hard.
When the conversation doesn’t flow – it means you’re not feeling easy with each other.
When you get bored after sitting with someone for a beer for 10-15 minutes – it means this person is just not your friend-material.
– Introducing yourself to someone new won’t necessarily make you a new contact.
– Pitching to someone won’t make you a new customer.
– Talking only about yourself won’t make someone listen to you.
– It’s the special connection that happens as you both go through something together.
– Try to find the people you feel good with and the moments you think you can share something real.
Imagine that you’re going to a party but you are not a party person. You’d probably end up having a couple of 1×1 conversations with two or three individuals. If these are the people you feel more comfortable with, then these are the people you should aim for while networking.
Think about it this way: if any of the contacts you make on your next networking session pans out, you’d end up spending hours, days and even weeks together. Not only in a limited working relationship such as an office environment, but cramped in a car full of musicians and equipment, stuck at airports when flights are delayed and in foreign countries where nobody speaks english and one of you has to spend the night in jail (true story! It happened to me in Morocco) because they can’t read your very legitimate, embassy stamped, approved travel visa.
Can you imagine yourself getting stuck in any of these scenarios with someone less than a friend? I sure hope not.
I like to call this our private human-marinade.
Just like when cooking, marinade yourself in like-minded company. Kind, trustworthy, professional people to ensure you will both come to each other’s aid when you both need it.
So don’t worry about not being the “hit of the party” or the funniest person in the room. Just make sure you have a few good conversations with interesting and kind people. Later on, try to meet them again outside of the networking environment, do something together. Go for a short walk, visit the gym or a spa, eat, shop, or whatever you like. Just make sure you genuinely enjoy each other’s company and work will follow.
When the time comes and the conversation veers towards work related topic, ask yourself: “What can I offer my new friend?” Before you ask what they can help you with. By making the 1st step, you will not only be seen as considerate, but you might actually end up being helpful. Earlier today, I introduced a colleague of mine to someone he wanted to get to know. In return, he introduced me to one of his contacts on his own accord. I didn’t have to ask for it. Think reciprocity.
Prepare your Elevator pitch
When making conversation with a new person, I would listen to them first. See who they are, what they like, what is their relationship with their work/colleagues and how passionate are they for what they do. I would never interject with a monologue about what I do. At some point most people will ask you as well “What do you do”.
For these moments, a ready made Elevator pitch is required.
– Make your introduction brief, memorable, enthusiastic and polite.
– Don’t overload your companion with information.
– Leave room for them to ask questions about your music, so don’t give it all away at once.
– Be modest, you can mention a few milestones but go easy on the self praise.
I personally have 3 versions of the elevator pitch ready:
Reserved for short encounters or spur of the moment opportunities.
When I lead with my initial pitch and see ad lib if people want more.
This version contains a lot of my personal story, and only very little “dry” information such as prizes & milestones. It leaves a lot of room for conversation to be woven into it, questions to be asked and a bit of a historical review of the culture my music stems from.
Tip: it’s not recommended to talk about yourself for non stop. Make sure this doesn’t become a rhetoric speech but more of a conversation / banter.
Dealing with rejection or: No = not yet
Even on your best behaviour/days, you might encounter negativity. NO is probably the most popular word in show-business. This usually means that people don’t see a fit, or a profit. It DOESN’T mean that you’re no good. I like relating to NO as NOT YET. Hearing no now, doesn’t mean this will be a continuous message. Not even from the same party.
There can be various reasons for that:
– The artistic director might not like your music personally. That’s ok, cause artistic directors change, or theuy can even change their mind.
– The venue might only program artists in a certain style
Do your research! Don’t waste your time on approaching venues that only host Acid music when you’re playing Folk.
– The festival might not have a stage that is suitable for your draw.
Some festivals sell an all-in ticket and are more flexible in programming, because it’s a full package deal. Some festivals will only have a spot for you in a far away theater and would have to sell tickets to your event separately. This makes their risk factor too high, so they won’t be able to program you even if they like your music.
For example, I applied to play at the Popronde festival in the Netherlands 4 times before I got in. The 5th time I applied, I got a personal email from the artistic director, telling me he was really happy that I applied because he considered me for the program each of the previous years but he never had a suitable spot for me in the programme. That year, however, he was happy to offer me 8 shows.
So no could mean not yet. That being said, don’t hassle people, updating your peers/applying to the same festival once a year is enough to keep yourself on their radar.
Prepare your elevator pitch. Imagine being in an elevator with an artistic director for 20 seconds, and what conversation you could have that would inspire them to want to find out more about you without giving them a full-on sales banter. Think about a two-way conversation and how you can make yourself memorable. Time it. Then learn it by heart.