You’ve probably heard it a million times; “Your network is your net worth.” The phrase has become so present in today’s entertainment industry that it’s become cliché. However, as with most clichéd sayings, it carries a great deal of truth and carries a lot of weight. But you may ask, How… If having a solid network of trusted allies is so vital to my success in the ‘biz,’ how do I go about finding these people?
1) Attend networking events/industry events/shows
Don’t just attend, but talk to people. Try to talk to everyone! Who knows? Out of the dozens of people you talk to, you may find the key to the next step forward in your career. Unfortunately, many people go about networking at industry events all wrong. Too many people are go-getters, trying to take from each person they meet without giving back. I urge Music Biz Wiz Kids to give more than they take. When you are talking to someone for the first time, think to yourself, “What can I offer of value to this person?” This can be a difficult question to think of on the fly especially when speaking to industry veterans, so try answering the question before you network. Another way to ask the question is, “what unique knowledge or skills do I have that this person could use?” You may know how to build websites and navigate social media sites or just be a part of a particular niche such as gamers or underground hip hop heads. Or you may just be a young person. Your perspective as a young person (I’ll avoid annoying terms like ‘teen’), could be invaluable to the person you are conversing with. (And it should be a conversation). Oftentimes, being a young person, you are the exact market they are trying to reach. By asking this question, you reverse the roles and set yourself apart from the crowd.
I’ve seen it way too often. A young artist/songwriter/producer/aspiringA&R/etc wants to promote their “project” by attending a networking event such as a showcase or conference and handing every panelist something. I say something because it can be anything from a CD to a flyer to a package to a press kit… you get the idea – the point is not in what is being given but the act itself. A lot of people think to do this and that isexactly the reason why it must be avoided. Music Biz Wiz Kids always think outside the box and do business in a professional manner. If each panelist received one tangible, physical item from every person they talked to they would need an assistant just to carry them all. A panelist might receive items from 20, 40, or more people. This will not achieve any goal unless your goal is to 1) waste money 2) waste your time and 3) waste everyone who youre dealing with times.
This is where the give/take thing I mentioned above becomes reversed. You might think you are giving someone value by handing them a CD, but unless you, as the promoter/seller/distributor, of this product, make an impact on a personal level (and aren’t all music products personal?) with your customer (the person who you are trying to sell on YOU) but you are not. This is also just as much true for interacting on the web. Blogs, like radio once did (and still does for the late majority), control the flow of information in a major way for music, that’s why (one of a couple of reasons) they are so powerful. Choose to offer instead with knowledge (not a tangible object) -it is the most valuable “thing” you can give/trade someone. Those who have the ability to obtain/ use/trade/barter/multiply information control the information and it flow. And isn’t knowledge power after all?