They say that it’s not WHAT you know but WHO you know that matters the most. As much as we want to believe otherwise, it’s partly true. Talent is cheaper than table salt save for some prodigies and geniuses, so what’s important is what you do with your talent and who you know. Talent alone would lead you nowhere the same way that a good network alone would lead you nowhere. You need to have BOTH!
Almost every artist hates the N word but it’s part of the game. You might think “Okay, I’ll do this networking thing once and for all so I can get it out of the way”. So you give it all you’ve got. You give it your all. You want RESULTS right away so you can reach the top faster. But good networking is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. In your efforts to make networking smooth sailing and successful, you put your best foot forward. However, be careful when you’re doing these networking acts. They could backfire on your bad days:
1. Name-dropping. So you want to impress people and you think it would help a lot if you pepper your conversation with the big shots that you know. That’s all right if you really know these people too well or if that bog shot has a good relationship with the people you’re trying to impress. But imagine if you claim that you’re close with someone and the person you’re talking to happens to be his or her best friend? Or if you claim some things that are not true. Or, if that big shot would say he or she doesn’t know you? It’s like you’re digging your own grave. Solution: Don’t make name-dropping a habit. Only mention people if necessary. When you do, make sure that everything you share is true and mutual.
2. Approaching too many contacts in one event. Being a social butterfly is nice but always remember that it’s not the number of business cards you collected but the friendships you’ve established. It’s much better to make five potential friendships in one night than thirty introductions.
3. Sharing secrets. You may have realized that sharing secrets is one of the quickest ways to be intimate with people. That could work if you’re sharing secrets about yourself (and they better be relevant to the listener!). However, if you’re simply spreading rumors, this will turn off a lot of people. First of all, do not use other people’s misery just to hold a conversation, and second of all, this is revealing of your character- that you cannot be trusted with secrets.
4. Being the life of the party. Well, this is great if it happens effortlessly. However, if you go to an event with this goal, it will likely do more bad than good. Why? You are not yourself and it will likely be awkward. So you drink a lot to be jolly and shameless. You may feel like you’re winging it but the people who go to these events regularly can only see desperation. Don’t overdo it.
5. Being “real” by just sitting in a corner. With the stuff I enumerated above, you might think that my final tip is “Don’t give a f*#%”. Not at all. Networking is still socialization with a purpose. If you just sit in the corner and act timid, it’s not likely you’ll get good connections. The worst thing that could happen is none of the above; it is going home without even knowing a single person in an important event. You should have just stayed in bed and watched Netflix.
Networking takes practice to become more organic. I’m pretty sure we’ve all said something or did something that would make us cringe until this day. Keep trying. Start by following these tips and pretty soon you’ll be a master at being friendly but still true to yourself.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.