How To Strategically Go About Building Your Professional Network.
Networking. Most artists will cringe when they hear the word. Most people, in general, find the experience mind-numbing and boring. And it can be. But it doesn’t need to be. Ultimately, it’s all about knowing how to ask great questions.
First off, networking doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you go to a pre-planned event and walk around awkwardly wondering what conversation you should drop in on. Another approach is to go to seminars, workshops and free events around your city where you’ll get to meet like-minded people. It can be done behind the scenes as well. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to the people you want to learn something from. You never know what can happen.
Building a network is incredibly valuable but it does take time and effort. Below are four thoughts on the matter.
- You Build A Better Understanding Of The Macro-Environment
The macro-environment refers to the external and uncontrollable factors that affect your industry. As an artist, regardless of all the rebelling and question asking you should do, you need to understand the industry in which you’re looking to make some noise. By connecting to the people who work within this world you get their insight and gain a better understanding of the obstacles and opportunities you’re facing.
For instance, what are the latest social media trends or in what cities are independent artists making most money?
- The ‘Ask’: What To Know
The ‘Ask’ is when you ask one of your connections to introduce you to someone or do you a favour.
Before you ask someone for a favour though, keep the following in mind: “Have I connected with this person enough for them to actually want to help me?” It’s important to take yourself out of your shoes for a minute and think about these things because when you ask someone who you otherwise never speak to for a favour, you’ll most likely come across as a dickhead. You also need to keep in mind that everyone who has a network has worked hard to build it and they tend to value the relationships they’ve created. If they’re going to introduce you to anyone they need to know that you’re someone who’s going to make them look good as well.
However, if you can justify your relationships, the ‘Ask’ can be incredibly powerful.
- The Law of 33%
Tai Lopez suggests in his TED talk when building a network we should surround ourselves with 3 types of people. One group, or 33% of them should be people ‘below’ us. These are the people we can teach. They help raise our own confidence in what we do, what we know and give us an opportunity to give back. The second 33% are your peers. These are the people on same level as you that you can relate to. You share struggles, worries and successes. Then the third group of people most people forget to seek out. This 33% are ‘higher’ than you. They’re 20+ years older and more experienced. These are the people you can look up to and mirror. They offer inspiration when it comes to where you want to be. Tai goes on to explain how generally you’ll be surprised to see how willing these people are to help you. They remember their own struggle.
So when you’re building your network, keep this in mind. Keep it varied and don’t be afraid to be the least knowledgeable one in the group. That’s how you become better.
- Your Network Is your Greatest Asset… Or Is It?
We’ve all heard the cliche "it’s not about what you know but who you know”. It’s a cliche for a reason and I'm inclined to agree with that statement. Your network is what will get you more exciting work and better opportunities. And let’s face it, the best vacancies are generally not advertised online but shared with you via a mutual connection.
However, you can be a singer/songwriter who knows all “the important people” in the music industry and still get nowhere. Why? Because SOMETIMES THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU DO. Now what?
Just because you know someone from Universal, doesn’t mean you’re going to get signed to Universal.
Artists are always encouraged to network and I strongly the concept has merit. Go out and see who you meet. You never know. Or let’s put it differently, you know with relative certainty what will happen if you stay at home.
I'd bring that initial statement even further and suggest that it's not about who you know but what you’ve got to say. If you ain’t got nothing to say, you can go into every social situation and make zero impact. At the end of the day you need to make things happen for yourself and once you can communicate your message through action, the right people will present themselves and offer you opportunities. In other words, bring your creative ideas to life now.
Either way, I hate to be the one to bring you the news but, sometimes you’re going to need to leave the house.
Call To Action: Not sure where to start? How about attending one of our meetups? Meet like-minded individuals, discuss any questions or doubts you may have and find your networking buddy. Alternatively, MeetUp is a great platform you can use.
Your voice matters. Let us know what you’re thinking and leave a comment below.