How to network? What does it even mean? We all know the internet has done wonders to help us connect with each other in a virtual world, but talking to people face-to-face is still the strongest of ways to get to know and interact with people. Make it a mission for yourself and always strive to meet someone new. It doesn't really matter if you are attending a social event, going to a club night, charity event, festival or maybe even sitting down for coffee in your local cafe. People know people and it really doesn't matter what the environment is where you will first meet them. The more people you know, the bigger your network becomes.
What is this 'networking' BS people keep talking about?
It's not about advertising yourself, your work or your skills to everyone you meet. You'll come off as needy. The goal is to meet new people and as time goes on with your relationships, your own aspirations and goals will eventually come up. Networking positively means talking to other people about THEMSELVES. People love to talk about their own lives, so help facilitate it and learn to be a good listener. You never know who you’ll meet, and here are a couple of advice on how to network.
Most attend networking events to gain something.
Contacts, exposure, gigs, record deals, referrals, connections or other opportunities to further grow their career. Going out to network, one should never have big expectations as networking isn't a sprint, but is really much closer to a marathon. People usually don't have the patience to do networking the right way and would often dismiss it as a waste of time. On the other hand, there are people who will get motivated, inspired and excited to mingle with others and work on helping them get ahead.
Networking is not about what you can gain but much more about how you can help others first, so they will want to help you afterwards. If you want something – give something first. If you are too concentrated on helping yourself you won't get far.
Every person has value. But do you really know what your's is?
Before going out to mingle, you need to figure out what your skills are, your talents and strengths as well as connections you can bring to the table. A little bit of planning and preparation goes a long way, especially if you're a bit introverted and inexperinced at conversing with strangers. Make a list of all the things of value you might be able to offer and think of who you could partner with. (Not just your demo, gig request or whatever you're after!) Think wider.
- Do you have a mailing list you might be able to swap with someone else to expand your fanbase (having a website and knowing the worth of newsletters/fan engagement)?
- Could you partner with someone in a video who might need your type of music?
- Could you do a joint event with another crew?
- Can you help other djs get booked somewhere you play regularly, so they could return the favor later?
- Would it be possible to bundle your music with a product to enhance their offer?
- Could you offer music workshops to a local community?
Could you help in any other way?
Figure out how you can be useful. Before any conversation comes to a close, be sure to ask: “How can I help you?” Because it’s done so rarely, you may encounter a surprised look, but it will most likely be accompanied by an appreciative smile.
While the person may not have an answer for you that night, they may have an idea later. Always close by saying something like, “If you need anything, please reach out to me or connect via social media or whatever the info you've put on your business card. After that do your best to maintain and nurture that relationship. That is all.
Connect, help in whatever way you can and always do it with a smile.
Smiling is the easiest thing to do, but so hard for so many. This is because most aren't confident in these situations and think too much about what to say. However, when breaking the ice in a networking event smiling is all-important. People mirror smiles. Test this for yourself. Generally, if you smile at someone, they will smile back even if they don’t mean to. It may help to remember the last time you felt truly hospitable - to be welcoming you have to smile!
People mirror attitudes.
It's pretty much like 'The Law of Attraction' saying, which goes a little something like this: a bad mood attracts bad vibes.
Being in a bad mood, people are less likely to want to talk to you. You will come across people who may not be in the mood to converse. This isn’t personal, tell them to “Have a nice day/evening/week/weekend and take care.” Exchange cards so you can connect with them later. Let them go and move forward. Shake hands at the beginning or end of the interaction depending on what feels natural.
REMEMBER: When you believe that the true value of networking lies in helping others and you've done your part, you’ll soon discover magic happening all around you. The beauty of this approach is that you never know when that magic may cast its spell on you.
When you have met someone to connect with, you may want to have a few opening lines ready for example:
- Simply introduce yourself and what you do
- Ask people how they found the seminar, talk, workshop (some networking events contain these)
- "How is business today?" is always welcome
- Ask the other person what they do
- Even if you know, ask what time the event ends
- Ask how the other person’s day has been
- Offer introductions
- Asking a question whether the other person is enjoying the networking event and who have they met always helps to break the ice
Once you have broken the ice and in a good flow of conversation, remember the following:
- Don’t have an agenda - and don’t let other people have an agenda either
- Prepare for some skepticism - all this means is that more information is needed
- No judgement
- Prepare some questions that you don’t know the answer to
- Take time to get to know the other person
- Beware of BS
- Keep the conversation alive with new questions
- Offer ideas
- Listen !!!
With practice, you will gain huge benefits from these networking exercises, for example:
- It builds your social skills. You also enable another person to build theirs and after a while this just becomes a natural part of who you are
- Learning new things
- More opportunities
- The pleasure of creating opportunities for others