By Jeri Goldstein
Networkingis it an industry buzzword or is there really something to it? The word is bandied about in relation to conferences and showcasing, but how can one take advantage of networking on a daily basis?
The first suggestion I make to consultation clients is to use the resources you have at hand, rely on what and whom you already know. When asked, most people can come up with a number of contacts they have made in the past that might be helpful to them in their current situation. One example that comes to mind is contacting a local media person with whom you have developed a relationship in your hometown to get a reference to other media people in nearby towns. If there is one thing you can count on, people in like jobs are familiar with their counterparts in other towns. They may even be friends or certainly have connections with media people in distant towns. Developing good relationships are the keys that unlock many doors in this business and for that matter, any business. Using those hard-won hometown relationships may pay off in ways you never imagined when you were trying to get that first mention in the entertainment section of your hometown paper.
The second suggestion I make to clients is to know who is on your mailing list. When you become familiar with the people who come out to see your gigs, buy your merchandise, and support your development, you may find untapped resources in those fans. There are many things necessary to grow a music career. Networking isn't only useful when looking for the record deal or a gig, it comes into play when you are ready to buy a touring vehicle or get your promotional photograph taken. You need to begin to ask for what you need, let those in your community, on your mailing list, know what is going on in your career. There may be people who are in a position to assist with upcoming plans. You may not know that one of your loyal fans is the sales manager at the local car dealership that just happens to sell the van you've been considering. One of my clients recently approached the dealership where he bought his van for a concert sponsorship. He submitted a well thought out proposal and they jumped on board with $1,000.
Networking is an art. It is also something that can become a part of your everyday behavior. So often it is a matter of thinking on your feet and really developing your listening skills. You may be having a conversation about one thing and during the conversation the other person mentions something of particular interest to you. Don't let it go, follow this new thread and get more information. You never know where it may lead. It may lead you to a new contact for a gig or a new media contact. It may lead you to a new printer who is half the cost of your current printer. This person with whom you are speaking may belong to a specific organization that has chapters throughout the region or the country. A well-placed word with other organization leaders may just land you multiple dates.
For those of you who have song lyrics running around in your heads rather than all the upcoming dates or projects you are planning, I might suggest keeping a small project list or book. When you begin to prepare the next mailing to your fans, look through the project book and mention your plans to your fans as you search for specific assistance. You might be surprised at the results. Look through your project book each day and jot down new ideas, review already listed plans to keep them fresh in your mind as you go about your day's activities.
Here are some networking suggestions:
1. Keep a running inventory of upcoming projects and what is needed to accomplish them.
2. Sharpen your listening skills.
3. Think on your feet.
4. Ask for what you need to accomplish your projects.
5. Rely on known contacts to break new ground.
6. Use resources at close at hand.
The next time to have a rehearsal or head out on the next tour, why not challenge your band mates to come up with a list of upcoming projects and some suggestions on how to accomplish them using resources you may already know. Get everyone thinking about networking on a daily basis. It is one of the most rewarding practices you can adopt.