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Talk to the Hand – 6 quick tips on networking for Musicians

Talk to the hand, ‘cause the label ain’t listening!

OK, so we all understand that humans are innately fearful of rejection, but networking is NOT flirting.  An approach from an artist towards an ‘industry insider’ is nobody’s favourite pass time, but it’s never going to end up with a hand to the face.  We understand that networking’s an ugly, uncomfortable word.  I mean, where else in life (apart from a bar) is it condoned to walk up to someone, un-introduced and just start a random conversation!

However, in the music industry, we believe this to be an invaluable and essential skill.  The industry has becoming so much more personal in the past couple of years, because of the huge rise in successful independent outfits.  So many people open doors for themselves by just seizing opportunities to network, smile and chat to a stranger in a room.  During a large music industry networking session that we helped to organise at Musicalize, we watched as some artists got straight on to building new contacts and links, whilst others recoiled into the shell of their own fears and insecurities.


6 quick tips on networking
  1. Don’t be scared, the worst you can get is a slightly cold conversation.  Reluctance and fear should be an artist’s worst enemy as every person you speak to could be a direct or indirect contact to your next gig, publication and/or record contract!
  2. Strike up a focused conversation.  Think about why you’re approaching this contact, and be clear with your message.  Some of the most successful musicians I know, who manage to make quick progress so far as getting bookings goes, are also excellent negotiators and comfortable networkers.
  3. Be warm, personable and approachable.  Your talent will only get you so far if you’re a jerk!
  4. Further to the last point, PLEASE DO NOT do that whole, ‘let me pass you on to my manager’ thing when someone ‘industry’ approaches you.  This can easily be taken the wrong way and be a complete turn off to a potential new link.  Build up a personal rapport, mutual respect and warmth, and only pass them on to your manager when it becomes essential!
  5. Be a little bit prejudice – Ok, we know that prejudice is totally unacceptable in general, but sometimes, you can tell who to target by who they are speaking to and how much respect they hold of the people around them.  Target your targets by being observant.
  6. Ask penetrating questions.  Networking is not an attempt to build friendship, but an opportunity to see where there is potential to work together.  Don’t be afraid to ask people what they do, no one is ever offended by another human being showing an interest in what they do.  Just remember to listen closely when you’re given an answer!

So in short, if you’ve got the confidence to stand on a stage in front of crowd, then you’ve got the confidence to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger who could be holding the keys to your next big break! Take a deep breath, swallow your fear and speak up!



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