Networking is one of those things that people love to write vague tips about. Truthfully, networking basically boils down to two things: being cool to people and having something they want.
Here’s an example of ten networking tips for musicians. They’re all great points, mind you, but a bit vague for my tastes. Let’s keep this simple.
If you’re super cool, you can easily meet people even if you don’t have a lot to offer. Cynics might point out here that this is because being cool is offering something–people like being around interesting characters–but let’s keep them separate in our minds a moment longer. This is where you want to be if you’re just starting out.
It also breaks down further into a couple of things, like being polite, friendly, showing up on time, having your shit together, etc. I’m going to assume you’ve already got that stuff all wired, you Rico Suave, James Bond, Emily Post mixture you.
Having something to offer
If you have lots to offer–let’s say you’re famous already, or maybe you’re gorgeous and everyone wants to sleep with you–you can get away with being a little less cool than you’d need to be if you’re poor or plain looking.
If you’re beginning, though, or you want to grow your situation, you need something to offer people. The easiest thing to generate that everyone needs is a network of contacts. Meet everyone, even if it seems like they have nothing at all to offer you. Introduce them to one another whenever possible.
The easiest thing you can do to benefit yourself is be the guy or girl who is always around, always cool, and always connecting people. All you have to do is take your “Being Cool” game to the streets. To do it, though, you need some face time and you need some place time.
Face time and place time
Probably the biggest mistake people make with networking, in my opinion, is they try to do it all online. No one wants you to maximize the internet for artists more than we do at Set.fm, but we’re not out to replace in-person human experience, only augment it. Make it better, baby. Aw yeah.
If you’re looking for gigs for your band, or you’re looking for a band to play with, you need to be meeting every musician in town face to face. You need to be showing up for every show you possibly can and introducing yourself whenever possible.
Yeah, you want to be tweeting and facebooking your butt off too, but when you’re asking a band to open for them it goes over a lot better if you can say “Hey I just saw you guys at <venue> and I think our band would be a great fit. I met your electric tambourine player Sandra, and she mentioned blah blah blah”
Or you can say “Hey, I really enjoyed your show, why not check out this recording of my show at the same venue on Set.fm? It’ll blow your pants right off your body it’s so amazing.”
On second thought, maybe leave out the pants bit.
Bonus Tip: When you’re heading out to venues, be cool to the staff. This means bartenders, barbacks, valets, servers… everyone. They will remember you and word gets around.
It really is that simple, folks! You can do it. Get out there and let people see all that value you create. Now you’re networking!