As an independent artist I am constantly looking for people to add to my team. So that means one thing and one thing only. Networking. A lot of people have a hard time with this one, but it’s really not that scary once you wrap your head around it. Successful networking is comprised of 3 things, doing your homework, asking the right questions and following through.
1) Before you venture into any networking situation you need to have a clear definition of what exactly you are looking for, who you’re talking to, what their expertise is and how they will be able to help you achieve what you’re looking for. If you don’t know anything about the person you’re approaching, then you might end up asking a person in real estate if they know a potential producer you can work with. (Yes, that is a real life example.) Before you make that phone call, go to that meeting or approach that person at the conference, you need to do your homework!
2) Lot of us, myself included, end up not asking the questions we want to because we’re afraid of rejection. However, you can completely avoid being rejected if you never ask a question that has a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Always, always, always ask open-ended questions that will either open up the door of opportunity with the person you are looking to connect with, or better yet, will open the door of opportunity to their network of people.
Here are a few examples:
“I’m looking for a producer for my next album, and I’ve always loved your work, would you consider working with me on my next project?”
This question looks lovely, because it’s a compliment sandwich, however, it might not get you the goods because it only yields a 50/50 chance of success. Either the prospective producer will say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The no might not be a mean no, they might just be busy on other projects. But a no is still a no.
“I’m looking for a producer for my next album, and I’ve always loved your work so I greatly respect your opinion. Would you be able to suggest any producers that I should approach for a possible collaboration?”
Once again we have the compliment sandwich, but this time there’s something different. It’s outcome has a far greater chance of getting you what you want. The person you’re talking to will either offer themselves for the position, or they will offer up their colleagues on their recommendation. What I love about this part is that it’s the most effective way to grow your network, because in the event of the worst case scenario (a no) you are presented with the opportunity to expand your network by asking the referrals the exact same question in the exact same way.
3) So now you’ve asked the question, and they’ve either agreed to work with you or have offered to refer you to other colleagues. This part is crucial, because it can be the most tedious. Follow through. Following through is a balancing act of being persistent without being annoying. I’ve found the best way to approach this is by alternating contact mediums, (phone, email, Facebook, text, repeat) combined with only reaching out once a week. This way you will stay present and show them that you’re serious without being too aggressive.
This is the networking method I’ve used for years now, and it seems to work fine for me! Do you have any pointers on how you conduct your networking?