We are so often working in our own little worlds that I find music industry events a helpful and much needed opportunity to expand the way I think, see things in new ways, learn new ways of doing things, and build my community.
I remember the first music industry events I went to over 20 years ago. I would interrupt conversations people were having, shove CDs in front of people’s faces and do the big pitch. I wasn’t connecting with anyone. I could feel them repel me, and I felt way more comfortable hanging out in the bathroom by myself. I thought this was what I had to do to network, to promote myself, to get ahead, to grow, to learn. I was really wrong.
Now when I go to events, I have a really different intention for going. I want to connect with people and make friends, because I have a far more rich and joyful experience doing that. And as a result, I am open to far richer opportunities and experiences.
Make connections and build relationships for your career, not a year
I mentor a group of artists and I’m often reminding them to make connections and build relationships for a career, not a year. See every connection you make as one that might stand the test of time, not just how that person can do something for you now.
For example, I might meet someone and there is no obvious connection for how we might work together. But as we chat I might realise they’re a really cool person and we connect over something in our everyday lives and then there’s an instant friendship formed. We swap details and connect on socials, and then I’ll see them again at another event and the relationship develops organically over time.
This isn’t about how the other person can help me do business now or how they can support me or help me get ahead now. But I can say that these relationships have resulted in friendships where we naturally want to help each other out, because people want to help their friends out.
You’ve been spending years honing your craft in songwriting and developing your artistry, the last thing you want to do now is go so hard on pitching to people that people don’t want anything to do with you. This is time to start building relationships and connections that can help grow your career. And people want to help people that they like.
Build connections and opportunities by networking regularly
One of the other ways you’re going to build your connections and community is to be present at these networking events. Like everything, you get better at what you practice.
Aim to go to one networking event every month. Find out what’s happening in your local area by doing some research and seeing what events are on. You might find a local music conference, workshop, seminar, webinar, festival, Q&A night or formal networking event. Even gigs and open mics can be a great place to practice networking.
Once you’ve got clear on what event you’re attending, buy a ticket and pop that event in your calendar. Next thing you can do to make the most of the event is do a little planning.
How you can best prepare for a networking event
Know why you’re going
Getting clear on what it is you want to get out of going to an event can assist you to have a richer experience and stay balanced and grounded whilst you’re there. Is it to connect with a community, learn about the industry and what’s new in the industry, have fun, or perhaps make meetings with key people?
Set up meetings prior
If you’re wanting to make meetings with people attending the event, get in early via email to request a time. Keep your emails short and sweet, and make it easy for them to say yes to meeting you. Suggest a café near the conference venue and give them 2-3 times that you’ve available to meet. Link them to your EPK rather than send a bunch of attachments.
Update your socials
Before attending, give your socials a little spruce up and update your bio, glowing statistics and list any upcoming gigs. People look at socials after they meet you at a conference, so make sure this is updated on all platforms to put your best foot forward.
To business card or not?
A business card is still a really easy way to swap information so that you can follow up with people. So if you plan on having cards with you, make sure they’re packed and ready to go. As an artist, it can be a simple card with your artist name, website, and email address.
You can’t connect with everyone at the event
When you arrive at the event, you might feel overwhelmed by how many people are there. How do you tackle this? Well, the reality is you can’t connect with everyone so don’t even try. Go with the flow, but if you want a bit of guidance, pace yourself and seek out 3-4 meaningful relationships per event, or per day if it’s a multi day event. That way you have met 3-4 great people that you can grow a relationship with over time.
If you’re travelling solo when you arrive you’ll find that there are other people also travelling solo. You might have an instant friend in them, an event buddy that you can come back to during the day and check in on.
How to strike up a conversation with someone
If you’re a bit awkward striking up a conversation with people you’ve never met, you might want to have a few conversation starters prepared so you always have something to say to the stranger right next to you.
Here are some suggestions:
- What city do you live in?
- What was your biggest takeaway from the last session?
- What are you listening to right now? What artists are you looking forward to seeing tonight?
How to make meaningful connections
The quality of the connection can also come down to how memorable and unique the conversation was.
If it’s a big event, I can start to forget some of the earlier conversations I had. To avoid this, I take brief notes in my phone during the event to help remind me about the conversations I’ve had and something really specific about the person.
I also make a note of what I’d like to continue talking about with them. Or if I have some ideas of how we can work together, I pop those notes on my phone and then I will take action later.
The follow up is how the connection develops
After the event, send a thank you email or message on appropriate social channels to the person to let them know that you really enjoyed meeting them.
If you see a genuine opportunity to do business with that person, this is a great time to continue the conversation in that direction. If you don’t hear back, it’s okay to follow up with them about 2 weeks after the initial email. After that you might do another email a month later, then after that, let it go. They either haven’t gotten on top of their emails yet, don’t have space for your idea just now, or it doesn’t align for them.
If you continue to move in the same industry circles, you will see these people at events in the future. Go up and I say hi, see what’s new in their world, and keep the connection alive. Stay open to the magic of where this relationship can go over time.
I hope this information supports you to build your connections and community. If you would like more personalised guidance and support for your artist project, please check out our mentoring program Level Up Club.
Episode Show Notes:
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