There's a strong belief that your success in music is based on who you know in proportion to what you know.
What you know is certainly important, but people tend to work with those they know, like and trust. Take a moment to ask yourself: how many people know, like and trust you?
If you want to build meaningful, two way relationships, then you need to accept that there will be highs and lows. Forcing your agenda on others is a surefire way to create rifts in potentially valuable relationships.
Here are several ways in which over persistence can kill your music networking efforts. Be sure not to do these.
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You See Networking As Little More Than Networking
If your goal as a networker is to get to know as many people as possible and immediately figure out how you can use and take advantage of them, then you're failing to see the bigger picture of networking.
Networking is the building of a relationship; a friendship. It's about creating an authentic connection with those you come across, and figuring out how you can add value to them first, without expecting anything in return.
“Are you serious? Without expecting anything in return?”
Unfortunately, innovation in technology has only encouraged a more elfish culture than in the past. We've forgotten what it means to genuinely communicate, connect, and make friends with others. However, friendship is the foundation of good networking.
How do you get into someone's “good” books? By adding value to them. But don't count on them to return the favor. Rather, trust that the law of reciprocity will take effect. What you give, you will get back, in one way or another.
You Follow Up Too Often
Follow up is hugely important when it comes to networking, and don't forget that. But if you do it too soon, too often, you're going to come across as eager and insecure.
There's a reason why we tend to avoid people who are overeager and insecure; it's just plain annoying.
It's not that people don't want to help those who are insecure, it's just that they aren't totally sure how to interpret the overblown showering of compliments and attention. Furthermore, they're not sure if you have any grasp of reality.
By all means, follow up. If you get 30 business cards at a weekend conference, set aside some time to reach out to each of those people. If you make some new friends at your concert, send them a message of “thanks” and start building a friendship with them.
But try to avoid sending a high concentration of messages in a short amount of time. People are busy. Adding more noise to their voicemail or inbox isn't going to fix the situation.
Yes, it's necessary to get a “yes” or a “no” if you're trying to book a show. Yes, it's important to talk to radio DJs after you've mailed out your new release to them. But if you're not sensible in your correspondence, you're going to have a hard time getting airplay, getting reviews and interviews, booking shows, and so on. You're going to miss out on a lot of opportunities.
You Don't Pay Attention To Communication Preferences
This can be quite problematic. In fact, there's nothing that can kill your music networking efforts faster than failing to observe the guidelines others have set in place for you. In some cases, it is a test, but most of the time when industry people say they want to be contacted via phone or email or text or in a particular way, they're not messing around.
You're more likely to come across these situations when you're talking to industry gatekeepers like radio programmers, music reviewers, journalists, and so forth. That's all the more reason to pay attention to how, and how often you're communicating with someone.
We all know that we need to be persistent when we're trying to reach someone specific, but if we don't reach them in the requested manner, there can be a dissonance between our intentions and how we're perceived. The message we're sending is that we don't care enough to learn how they prefer to receive communication.
Easier to ask for forgiveness later than to ask for permission upfront? Perhaps. But try to be understanding of their preferences. Showing up in the right way can make a big difference in your interactions.
You Fail To Identify The Mutual Benefit Of The Communication
This is really the core message of this guide. If you want to network well, you have to become others-focused. If you're only in it for yourself, why should anyone else care?
Nowhere is this more self-evident than online. If you're in a real-life conversation, it might take a moment for you to realize that the person you're talking to is only interested in themselves. However, if someone isn't adding any value to a discussion online, it's immediately apparent.
I often get emails from artists and bands. It seems that very few actually know how to begin a conversation that has any mutual benefit. Many will send me press releases without even asking.
Thank you, but I can't do anything with that, because I have no context for the interaction. It's not that I don't want to check out your music; it's more that you never said anything about me in your message.
Does that sound selfish? Then really think about the emails you've immediately deleted without giving a second thought. They probably weren't relevant to you or your situation. Maybe they were just spam messages.
Regardless, it was the lack of personalization and mutual benefit that stopped you from bothering. If someone stopped to compliment you, you would say “thanks”. If someone shoved their shiny new widget or product into your face yelling “buy now!”, you would probably say “no thank you” (or something worse).
Persistence is generally a good quality to have as a musician, and networking is generally a good thing to do. Just don't go overboard. See things through the eyes of others, and seek to add value to them.
Have you found that you've been too forward with networking in the past? How have you since changed that? Let us know in the comments.