Posts Tagged ‘Networking’

I don’t need to tell you that networking is one of the most important aspects of success in the music industry – I’m sure it’s been rammed down your throat sufficiently without my help. At Berklee, the first pieces of advice given to incoming students include the mantra “network, network, network,” and it comes back time and again in every panel and Q&A session available.

As a more introverted person, it’s difficult to keep up with the amount of networking I feel I should be doing. I’ve spent the past three years pushing myself out of my comfort zone and learning, through trial and error, what does and doesn’t work when networking as a non-extrovert. It’s been rough, but completely worth it. Now I bring to you, networking advice for the introvert:


Baby Steps

All the networking advice out there says to work a room, give out (and collect) cards out the wazoo, send follow up emails, and potentially meet with your new contacts.

I know that this was overwhelming for me. At functions, I’m the wallflower, the one standing near the food or drinks to have an excuse to not be talking to anyone, so striking up conversations with multiple people was incredibly daunting at first.

Instead of feeling like it’s all or nothing, find one person to talk to – you are building your network one person at a time after all. It could be a fellow wallflower, or someone who seems extremely friendly and easy to talk to. If the conversation is going well, definitely exchange information! BUT don’t feel like it’s a requirement. If you don’t find a natural opening, don’t stress about making one.

Also, choose events that interest you or that you feel will yield good results. Instead of attending EVERY event, which will cause networking burnout, you’ll only go to the amount you can handle, and will get much more out of each event.

Common Interests

I rarely strike up conversations with people I don’t feel I can connect with. Luckily, in this industry, if you’re at an event you automatically have something to talk about! Ask them what their involvement is or what they love to do (I find asking people what they do often leads to awkward answers – many people in this industry aren’t doing what they really love just yet). If you can get someone talking about their passion, most of the time you can just sit back and let them lead the conversation.

Utilize Social Media

Social media is a godsend for those with social aversion. A quick Tweet or message on Facebook is so much easier than approaching someone in person. It takes away the fear of stumbling over words and appearing confident. It’s much easier to craft a confident message than a confident demeanor.

Don’t be afraid to talk to people who are at a much higher level than you either! Social media has helped tremendously to level the playing field, and oftentimes musicians and industry professionals respond to every message they receive.

You Don’t Have To Use The Phone

Well, mostly. Luckily, the majority of people today view phone conversations as a time-consuming interruption instead of a necessary way to communicate. If given an option, always email. The only reason I ever use the phone is if the other person insists on a phone call, and that only happens very rarely.

Of course, if it does seem like the better course of action, definitely use the phone.

If I had advice for making it a better experience, I’d share it with you, but phone conversations still vex me.

Bring A Friend

Have an extroverted friend? Bring them to events! I’ve had friends that have essentially been networking wingmen, and it works extremely well. Have your friend start the conversation and chime in when you feel comfortable. If they’re good friends, you can share your trepidations and hopefully they’ll be willing to turn the conversation towards you and what you do in the industry.

Don’t forget that friends ARE your network. Ask them for favors (as long as you reciprocate) and find out if they know people who you may be interested in getting to know.

Push Yourself

Finally, the most difficult part – you have to push yourself. Create an atmosphere where you feel comfortable, and then use that support to push outside of your comfort zone.

The best way to do this is to REFUSE to think about how it could go wrong. People generally like meeting new contacts, and if you show a passion for the industry they’ll see that and appreciate it.


Your network is your way into the industry, whether you like it or not, but there are ways of growing that network with minimal stress.

Links:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/career-transitions/201010/networking-101-introverts

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/self-promotion-introverts/201007/networking-isnt-about-using-and-getting-used

http://www.inc.com/karl-and-bill/networking-for-introverts-3-tips-for-success.html

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-introverts-corner

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When I announced that I’m now managing a band in NYC on Sunday, some people (okay one person, I’m not exactly big time here) were curious about the events that led to that decision. Here I’ll tell the tale of how I came to manage them, from first meeting to now, with a sprinkle of advice thrown in (you know how I do).

NMS and Determined Networking

A few weeks ago, I attended the New Music Seminar at Webster Hall and posted about it here. What I didn’t mention was the band from Mexico that I met on the first night, the opening concert.

Before the show, there was a “red carpet” of sorts for all the media to take pictures and do quick interviews. I only had my iPhone so I was mostly there to see who was at the concert and hopefully learn a little more about the seminar. There were a couple bands that walked through that had the potential to play my preferred genre of music, one of which was The Oats.

I am not the most social person. Every outing takes a good deal of energy from me and I have to force myself to walk up to new people and start a conversation. But that’s exactly what I did. The first band did NOT seem interested in what I had to say…they replied with obligation and gave me their card, but they clearly had better people to talk to. Refusing to be deterred, I walked up to the next band in the hopes of, at the very least, getting their information and finding some new music. I didn’t realize I was starting a friendship and a partnership.

The Oats were very enthusiastic about meeting new people (my friend was with me) and we talked for a bit about their sound (The Pixies, The Strokes, The Libertines), their story, and my aspirations in the music business. We exchanged information and went our separate ways.

Networking Tips (Trust me, I know this shit. Thanks Google!):

  • Be Confident – If you don’t believe you’re an interesting person to talk to, no one else will either, and they’ll quickly run the other way
  • Have A Conversation Starter – With those bands, I opened by confirming their band name and inquiring about the genre of music they play. It can be anything from complimenting an article of clothing to asking about their position in the music industry.
  • Focus On Them – People love talking about themselves
  • Get Their Contact Info – Ask for a card, a number, or an email, and make sure not to lose it!
  • Follow Up – Send a quick email saying how great it was to meet them and include an open-ended suggestion to meet or work together

Follow-Up and A Show At Public Assembly

After the New Music Seminar ended, and I actually had some free time again, I sent out a follow-up email saying I liked their music and asking for a list of show dates. Of course, they added me to their mailing list (good move guys) and sent me a free download (and again!) along with their calendar. Naturally, I went to their next show, which was at Public Assembly in Brooklyn. At 8pm on a Sunday. What I’m saying is there weren’t many people there.

Despite the small crowd, The Oats rocked it and made the perfect self-deprecating joke, without making it awkward. They also enlisted the help of a rubber chicken to ask for emails from the audience. I was really starting to like this band.

After the show, my friends and I invited them to hang out back at our place, have a beer, and play some music (as we’re wont to do..). Even with their Mexican accents (meaning language barrier), they fit in with us Berklee kids. Musicians gotta stick together, you know?

The Rest Is History

But I’ll tell you about it anyway. We started hanging out more regularly, talking about their time in Toronto and how the radio stations in Mexico don’t like bands that sing in English, and I just became determined to help them build a fan base here in NYC. I checked out their online presence, gave them a few tips, and promoted shows through my social media profiles. Then, I got them a gig in Boston (THIS FRIDAY AT MACHINE). Occasionally, they’d mention they were looking for a manager, but, seeing as I don’t have any experience, I was resistant to offering my services (I was scared shitless that I’d mess it up).

But, after talking about my experiences with my internships and previous concert planning and promotion, along with all the help I’d offered them and my enthusiasm for their music, they asked me to be their manager. And, as you know, I said yes.

Sign Your First Band (Advice For Aspiring Managers)

  • Go to ALL THE SHOWS
  • Find a small band or two that you really believe in, based on their music and their dedication
  • Introduce yourself as a person interested in music business – and their band (don’t mention management yet!)
  • Prove Yourself – Because you lack the experience, you have to help them before bringing up management…give advice, help with promotion, book them a gig, whatever is in your capabilities to do
  • Mention that you’re interested in managing bands, if they seem interested, talk about how you would help them and let them know that if they need a manager, you would be glad to help
  • Wait – there isn’t much you can do after this without the risk of seeming desperate, so let them think it over and if they bring it up again, you’re golden

So now we’re in the development stages of this collaboration. We made a contract (always do this – ALWAYS), set some goals and guidelines, and are working non-stop to make it all happen.

Sometimes it all feels like a dream. Two years ago, I never would have believed I would be where I am now, or would have gained so much knowledge and so many connections. It’s a surreal feeling living your dream (forgive the expression). I wish everyone had the chance to be in my position, and that’s why I write this blog. I want to share my experiences from my pursuit of success in the music business, and I want those experiences to help as many people as possible, although even just one would make me happy.

If you want to see The Oats play live today at 4pm, check them out via uStream on Rew & Who!

Have a wonderful 4th of July everyone!