Networking. A dreaded term for introverted musicians... and really everyone, sometimes. The concept can be quite uncomfortable and pretty awkward. We're somehow supposed to go into a situation with loads of professional strangers and strike up a conversation about our lifelong career aspirations, but play it off as no big deal.
The whole ordeal is still foreign to many of us and can turn into a storm of stress and anxiety. What happens if you mess up? Or you don’t know how to start the conversation? Fear no more – here are some tips to ease the tension, start the conversation, and gain more confidence to meet and make music industry connections.
If you can do it with your instrument, you can do it with networking, too. You might know who you are inside and out, but not everyone else does. Rehearse your personal introduction in the mirror, to your dog, or with a friend.
If you have an idea of what you're going to say in your head, you won't find yourself spacing out when speaking with others in networking situations. Find a balance between being rehearsed and natural. Keep the conversation flowing, but think a few steps ahead at all times.
2. Do your research
You don't have to know that the CEO's second cousin named Susan just went on vacation to Italy, but you should definitely know some basic details about the person you're speaking with and the company he or she works for. Our good friend Google has nearly all the knowledge in the world, so go looking. You should enter into your networking opportunities prepared with at least some history, goals, and target markets for the company.
3. Dress the part
This kind of goes without saying, but if you find yourself in a networking situation, you should make an effort toward your appearance.
Job seekers hear it all the time: "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." While this is decent advice, it doesn't always translate seamlessly for musicians. After all, musicians aren't wearing three-piece suits and Louboutins to work. But spending the time to put on an outfit that makes you feel empowered can give you that extra "oomph" when entering a stressful networking situation.
A personal mantra of mine that seems to always give me a massive boost of confidence is, "You look good, you feel good. You feel good, you do good." It's simple, but straightforward. There's nothing that makes me feel more confident than an outfit that expresses who I am while making me feel like I can command a room.
4. Know your goals
Entering a room full of people who have the gigs you want to have is intimidating. But you need to understand and communicate why you're there to network. Are you looking for potential job leads? Seeking to form creative relationships? Whatever it may be, determine your goals ahead of time so you're prepared to ask the right questions and speak to the right people.
5. Remind yourself that you can't lose
Remember, networking isn't an interview. The point of networking is to get to know professionals in the industry who may help you out in your own future successes. You're there to learn and grow as a professional; it's not a win-or-lose situation.
Networking can be stressful, but at the end of the day, you're going out and making the effort to better yourself and explore your industry. That, in and of itself, is a personal win!
Get more networking tips:
- How to Nail Your Networking and Have Genuine Interactions
- 6 Music Industry Networking Tips Nobody Tells You
- How to Make Meaningful Music Industry Connections (Not Just Contacts)
- 3 Ways an EPK Can Supercharge Your Networking
Rachel Bresnahan is an editorial intern at Sonicbids.