Networking in the music industry might seem scary at first but it’s vital in opening you up to opportunities and collaborations. Radio Presenter and DJ Maria Hanlon has created a list of useful tips for novice networkers…
I used to imagine networking in the music industry being very business-like and formal, with name badges and awkward conversations. Sometimes it is, but most of the time, when you strip it back, it’s just a chat between creatives. Although there are things to consider, if you want networking to positively impact your career, here are my simple suggestions.
Use Social Media
Join social media groups such as WhatsApp, Discord or Slack. When I decided I wanted to be a presenter I joined a group I found on Instagram called Presenter Friends. They welcomed me into their WhatsApp group of over 100 like-minded presenters and it has become a supportive space to ask questions, post job opportunities and invite each other to events.
Make sure you’re following the right profiles online, so you’ll be the first to know when they announce events. Most of the networking events I’ve been to are intimate and often free to attend so tickets go fast, be quick and grab one whilst you can.
Remember the famous saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’? Well, that can often be true in the music industry which is why networking and attending events can be hugely helpful. Find out which events are happening, why they would be beneficial to attend and who will be there. Top tip – radio station events, record store openings, music launch parties and panel talks are always good ones to keep an eye out for.
Get some business cards printed so you can hand them out to people and make a note on your phone of contact details. If it’s possible, research who will be in attendance and find out what they’ve been working on recently. That will be a good conversation starter and you’ll know who you’d like to chat to and why.
Set Yourself A Challenge
Most people find networking slightly intimidating but if you set yourself a challenge you have something to work towards. The challenge could be ‘I want to speak to 5 new people before I leave’ or ‘I want to introduce myself to… and ask them about…’. You’ll feel really pleased once you’ve done it and it will make attending worthwhile.
There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of drinks at an event to relax but remember why you’re there – to network – so know your limits. You can go to the pub with your mates anytime, but if you want to have memorable conversations and make connections it’s a good idea to keep an eye on how much you drink.
Don’t try to be someone you’re not to come across ‘cool’ or to impress people, because it won’t. Be yourself, be nice and listen to others. Don’t just talk about yourself the whole time, ask them questions, find out what they do and make sure the conversation is two-sided.
Put Your Phone Away
Nowadays, we’re so used to relying on our phones for company when we are left alone or feel uncomfortable. It can be so tempting to scroll but try not to as it will give people the signal that you’re busy and don’t want to chat. Instead use that time to strike up a conversation with someone new, as you never know where that chat could lead to.
Discussing potential collaborations is great but how will you make what you spoke about actually happen? If the conversation sounds exciting and something you’d like to explore further, ask the person for their email address and drop them an email the next day so you’re still fresh in their mind. A quick email such as ‘Hey …, great to meet you last night! Really enjoyed our chat about …. If you’re still interested in grabbing a coffee to discuss this further, what’s your availability like over the next couple of weeks? Thanks!’ would do the job perfectly.
Go On Coffee Dates
Coffee dates are a personal favourite of mine as they’re a brilliant way to network one-on-one and most people are up for it. Shoot big; email people you look up to in the industry or have always wanted to work with. Naturally, most of these people are very busy so be clever with your initial email. My Dad taught me a good tip – always end the email with a question that way the recipient will feel like they need to respond for example, ‘I’m free Tuesday at 10am or Wednesday at 11am, if either of those suited you?’ works more effectively than an open ended ‘would be good to meet up soon’.
Support other creatives and find ways to collaborate. I’ve made many friends online from interviewing artists, tuning into radio shows and going to gigs. Share people’s work on your socials or find ways to show your support. The more you get involved within the community, the more likely people will return the favour and help you out because after all, there’s room for everyone to succeed.
When I moved to London, I hardly knew anyone in the music industry, but through putting myself out there and networking, I now have an amazing circle of creatives who have become my close friends. We share opportunities, events, advice, bookings, the list goes on, but most importantly we elevate each other! So get out there, build up your network, collaborate, meet people, have fun and see what doors might open as a result.
Words: Maria Hanlon
Listen to Maria Meets on the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month 3-5pm on voicesradio.co.uk