When we go to events to network, we meet people, have a chat over a drink or 3, exchange cards and details. That's all good. But how many of them actually turn into friends? Collaborations? Partnerships? paid work? Initially you may be thinking what this person can do for me? However, the question you should also ask is, what can I do for them? It has to be a win/win situation. As a Songwriter /Producer, here are my top tips to make your net-work.
1) Treat everyone you meet like they just gave you A Million Pounds
If Richard Branson walked into the room and invested a million into you music career, you would treat him differently from that very moment. Respect would be given, a place of honour, humility, a feeling of I owe you, thanksgiving and compliments. These are things that everyone likes. So do your best to treat every encounter like a million dollars.
2) Listen and be helpful
"If we were supposed to talk more than we listen then we would have 2 tongues and 1 ear." - Mark Twain. If you listen to the person you're speaking with, more often than not, they'll tell you what they need help with. You'll also be able to identify what skills you have that they lack and visa versa. Be interested in them and 'Ask questions'. Make the other person feel important and highly skilled. What projects are you working on and see how you can help. Offer your skills or recommend/introduce them to a friend who can help them. They'll remember that. (I know I would) you become successful by helping others become successful. It's 40% a sales pitch about you, 40% about being someone they want to work with (Do I want this person in my house/studio?) and 20% about if you want to work with them.
3) Be remembered (for good reasons)
Wear something that makes you standout (a bow tie, a funky hat, a cool chain) It's better to have made 1 or 2 new friends at the end of the night than just have 10 new cards. Get to know them, be interested and buy them a drink. Don't be fake because people can see through that, be genuinely interested in the other person. If you're not a people person, you're in the wrong business.
4) Smile, have fun and be yourself.
Smile, have fun and be yourself. Sometimes, there just isn't a spark between two people. That's ok, if there's no connection, you don't need each other's skills, or you're total opposites who both of you know you'd never work together, don't hesitate to move on. But still be nice, and still swap contact details/cards (you're there to network). You never know who they know or will introduce you to down the line. You also don't know who they'll be next time you see them (A&R, Publisher etc.). They may see you at another event you go to and introduce you to friends there because you made a good impression, even if you haven't worked with them yet. The industry is smaller than you think and being rude, burning bridges will only hurt you in the long run. It's that easy to get blacklisted. "Don't be an Asshole" Martin Atkins. Most connections/collaborations are made through recommendation.
Final statement - "In this industry I’ve learned that it's not so much about who you know, but who knows you and the relationships you build with people.” Attending these events regularly will not only grow your network of industry contacts/friends, but will also show you as a person who is tenacious, proactive about their career and takes opportunities when they arise. Show up, be yourself with confidence (not arrogance), help others and collaborate with your skills.
THE ART OF NETWORKING - POST EVENT
You'd be surprised how many people go straight to the point when emailing new contacts. I admit i've been guilty of this in the past. Here's my music, here's a list of things i've done and how great I am, have a listen, let me know what you think.
Be informal but professional if you are contacting a potential collaborator. (e.g. A fellow songwriter or producer) Be Formal, succinct and professional if you are contacting a industry professional (e.g a publisher). Here are my tips/advice on what to do post event to turn your new network of contacts into friends and potential collaborators.
Be courteous in your first contact
"Hey Chris, How are you? or I hope you are well, or How are your projects going?"
Politeness goes a long way and shows your character through email. It costs nothing to ask someone how their weekend is going, but makes them feel glad that you asked. Remember and reference conversations you had so they'll remember you, or what you were wearing. Keep it brief and if you're sending songs, only send (a maximum) 3 strongest songs in order of strength (first being the strongest). Always send Links not mp3's. Remember to end your email well also.
“Hope to hear from you soon" or "I look forward to your reply”
These are nice ways to prompt and anticipate a reply.
Be swift in your first contact...
I recommend you contact your new friend within a week of meeting them. If you fail to contact them within a week you risk the new fire/spark between you both dwindling. It’s important to show an interest and be proactive, it shows how much you appreciate your new connection, and how keen you are to collaborate with them.
Keep all your business Cards in one place. Organise them in a way that's comfortable. Prioritise them in piles. A, B & C.
A is for A listers / people you definitely want to work with. Or people you're currently working with.
B is would like to work with
C is if you don't want to collaborate but they still may be useful in the future.
Make a Spreadsheet
If you have the time and patience. Make a spreadsheet for you contact list. List skills, where you met, if you've messaged them, the date you're meeting, etc. Any categories you need.
It's ok to be persistent, and stay fresh in someone's mind. If they don’t respond to your first email within a week or 2, send them a further email. Perhaps it got lost in their inbox or they need a gentle nudge to reply back. A simple, courteous email saying what you said in the first email is fine.
If you haven't heard back after 3 follow up messages, then it’s probably best to stop emailing. Hopefully you’ll see them again at another event.
On the flipside of that, many people, including Simon Cowell, got their first jobs with their mentors by badgering, calling, messaging them for weeks on end, until they inevitably gave in and offered them something. I don't recommend that style but in conclusion I would say be true to your personality. Some people are more upfront than others and this is my approach.
Evernote is great because you can take a picture of a business card and not only store it digitally, but it can also take the information from the card and save it into your contacts. Linked In. - Build your professional network, Showcase your CV, search & headhunt specific people in companies/labels etc. You may have mutual friends so ask for recommendations and introductions. Friends can also give you testimonials which is always great.
Written by: Christopher Smith
Influence is a multi talented Songwriter/Topliner from South West London. Specialising in R&B and Hip-Hop, he loves to co-write and collaborate! So check out his website here and Music Gateway profile. Feel free to have a listen and contact him for co-writes and collaborations.
He has written for BASCA and performed at City Showcase Sessions (Apple Store, Regent Street) MIDEM 2014, and over 50 schools and venues throughout London and UK. He's also attended numerous Songwriting Camps and was a finalist in the UK Songwriting Contest 2 years in a row.
You can follow him on Twitter & Instagram @influenceiam