Not too many artists are very good at talking to people and making connections. Most prefer to sit on the sidelines during parties and important events, reluctant to strike a conversation in a fear of looking fake. You might think that the only thing you should be concerned about is your craft because that’s the basis for everything. In reality, knowing how to mingle may be more important to your career and overall success.
If you’re reading this, chances are you are new to this networking thing. First of all…Hey, don’t worry. It won’t kill your luster. Second, you are definitely not alone. Save for the lucky few, most of us started looking awkward and saying cringe-worthy lines. The good news is that we’re still alive and definitely have a wider network compared to those who never dared to.
Here are some networking tips so you will find it easier to talk to people:
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
When you hear the word “networking”, what comes to mind? Let me guess: useless small talk? Kissing ass? Weak man’s strategy?
I used to think networking is for losers who have nothing to offer except useless blabber until I met some really valuable people who’ve got plenty to offer but who are also good at networking. It simply means building friendships that could potentially turn into mutually beneficial relationships. There’s nothing bad there; It is a necessity if you want to be a valuable person in your community. You meet people so you can help each other!
Maybe what you see in televisions are salesmen who obviously can’t wait to get a sale. If it looks forced, that’s not good networking. For me, good networking is 80% friendship, 20% business (on the first meeting, at least). So change the way you see networking first for you to become comfortable doing it.
START WITH THE PEOPLE YOU ALREADY KNOW
Before you start talking to complete strangers, practice your networking skills to friends, co-workers, neighbors and relatives first. Make your circle grow bigger and bigger from the inside. Reach out to former classmates and ask them how they’re doing. Visit your old professor and ask career advice. Message your former neighbor who’s already living in a different state. You get the drill.
KEEP IT LIGHT AND SIMPLE
Forget impressing them. Forget sounding interesting. I know this is easier said than done, but try to act “natural.” Start with very casual topics like the Superbowl or the weather. Stay away from heavy topics like politics, religion, abortion, etc (again, at least for the first meeting).
FOCUS ON HOW YOU CAN HELP
Instead of thinking of the perfect timing to “sell yourself”, focus on when you can be helpful to them. If you have this intention, it will definitely show and you will appear more sincere with your intentions. This will also make you more comfortable talking about what you do, which is basically the goal of this article.
These tips are for those who are newbies at networking. Once you apply them, trust me, you will instantly feel the difference. You will feel less tensed and more confident talking to people you hardly know. Don’t forget to bring your business cards, demo reel, and merch wherever you go. Good luck and just enjoy meeting people because even if you sound lame, always remember that, at the end of the day, the people you meet only focus on their lives and how you can help them and not really on how you stutter.
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