5 essential networking tips
Networking is key to progressing your music career. We ask Oli Tatler from our Careers and Industry Hub for his top tips...
Networking is essential in the ‘people-focused’ creative sector to develop contacts and source projects.
Building your professional network means actively developing relationships with a wide range of people - the more connections you make, the wider your own network becomes so it is in your interest to be proactive.
Networking makes many people feel anxious and even overwhelmed (talking about yourself in front of strangers doesn’t come easily to a lot of us!) so Careers & Employability Manager, Oliver Tatler, has put together Career & Industry Hub’s top tips for effective networking:
People don’t typically respond well to people they perceive as being ‘fake’.
Being professional doesn’t mean that you can’t bring your own personality into networking events – people who work in the music business are people too!"
In order to make real connections with people, see events as an opportunity to make professional ‘friends’ rather than contacts. Getting a card from a professional is great but networking is a good way to start building relationships with people working in the same industry as you, which means you want to develop a natural rapport with people which may potentially develop into future collaboration or partnerships.
Be concise and relevant
When we are nervous, we sometimes talk more than we might normally!
The professional way to communicate is to always try and make sure you are being concise and relevant in what you are trying to say, whether this is in emails, on phones or in person.
The Elevator Pitch concept is the idea that you can pitch an idea to someone important in the amount of time it takes for an elevator to go from the top of a building to the ground floor. This can also be applied to talking about yourself. Prepare a short introduction you can give to people if asked and remember your reasons for coming to the event.
People who make networking look easy have usually become masters of preparing for similar events. Think about why you are interested in attending a networking event and what you want to get out of it. Prepare answers to typical questions you can expect about who you are and what you do as a professional in front of a mirror or even film yourself (as you might do for an interview).
First impressions count so practice giving a firm handshake. Consider whether you want to get cards made for yourself which you can handout to people you meet."
Ask open questions
If you are feeling shy, remember that typically people like to talk about themselves and give their opinions. Asking for people’s thoughts on key industry developments (or even the weather!) can make the person you are talking to feel like you are engaged and interested in them. It can help avoid uncomfortable pauses in conversation and also means that you don’t necessarily have to talk more than you feel comfortable doing; however, remember to actively listen and respond to people’s comments so that they know you are paying attention!
If you make a new professional connection at a networking event, make sure you follow up with them. If you haven’t got a card with you, consider whether you should bring a pen and some paper with you to make a note of emails or phone numbers.
Professional networking website LinkedIn can also be a helpful too for finding someone you have met at an event.
Be patient if the person you are contacting doesn’t respond and don’t pressure connections to make contact until they are happy to."
Remember to always be polite, professional and positive – the music industry revolves around people and your professional reputation is important for developing your career. And remember to have fun – networking can be scary but meeting interesting people in the industry you are passionate about can also be exciting and inspirational!
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