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How to Network When You’re Really Uncomfortable Networking

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Networking is undoubtedly one of the most important things for every musician to do. That includes you: musicians, songwriters, composers, producers, lyricists, and anyone working in the music industry — all of us.

Often we see people experience success based on who they know, and not necessarily because they are the most talented or qualified person for the job. I wouldn’t go as far as saying everything in this industry is a popularity contest, but the circles you keep are surely one of the biggest catalysts for getting that gig or highly coveted opportunity you’re after.

So, what is a musician to do when they know they need to network, but are really uncomfortable networking?

…GET OVER IT!

Just kidding. But only sort of. The truth is, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone to make some quality connections, especially with the people you really want to get to know. There are a few ways you can dip your toe in and make things a little easier before you reach new heights as a networker extraordinaire.

Here are some tips.

1. Make it easy for people to contact you.

First, make sure you have a well-made business card at all times. This should include all the important info including full name and/or stage name, phone number, email, relevant social media handles, your website, any related professional associations you’re a member of, etc. This will save you the trouble of having to rattle off your résumé on the spot or of awkwardly searching for a pen to write your info down on the dreaded drink coaster.

You should also get your website in order. Like, now! Make it easy for people to get in touch with you if they just happen to come across your stuff online with a well-designed website and contact page. Need a bit of inspiration? Head over to our free online course, How to Create a Killer Musician Website, and learn everything you need to know in just a few minutes! These first two tips are really about being prepared for the big moment when an important contact crosses your path. Don’t let opportunities pass you by!

2. Don’t go in cold.

Next, you’ll want to know your audience. Who is it that you’re talking to and why are they here? And if you’re about to start chatting with someone new, make sure there’s a context in place for starting to talk to them. Position your introduction in this way so it doesn’t just feel like some kind of speed dating adventure. Here are some examples:

  • If you’re at the bar at an album release party, ask how they know the band.
  • If you’re at an educational event for say songwriting or production, ask how they found out about the event and why they’re there.
  • If you’re at a formal music business function, ask the person at your table about their career and how they got started.

These are all great icebreakers and allow the person to throw those questions back your way, so you can share your background with them as well.

You can also opt to bring a friend to a networking event to help put you at ease — ideally someone who has some connection to music or is there for the same reasons. It will give you the chance to mingle together until you get a foothold in this unfamiliar setting and meet some new people. But be careful to not bring a friend who doesn’t fit the type of event (e.g., an over-talker, a complainer, an inappropriate joker, etc.). Bring someone who shows the good company you keep as an artist — who is a positive representation of who you are as a person.

3. Always make sure you know why you want to increase your network.

Lastly, keep your goals at the forefront of your mind. What do you hope to achieve from making new connections? Why is this important to your life and career? What kinds of contacts are you hoping to make?

Think of it this way: What’s the worst that can happen? Someone takes your card, leaves, and you never hear from them again? OK. You’re in the exact same position you were in before you started networking. Nothing has changed! There is literally nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Try to remember why you love music, why you love your music, and what you have to offer the music world. Bringing a level of confidence and comfortableness will help you feel more at home at networking and other events involving the public, and it will help you start conversations that your nerves might otherwise prevent you from doing. People would be better off knowing you, so walk into that room like you know it, too.

Connections with other people make the world go round — not least in the music world — so share the gifts you’ve been given and the experiences you’ve had, and become the networking champ you were always destined to be! I believe in you.

Got 10 minutes to learn something new?

Explore Soundfly’wide array of free online courses and expand your musical skills over your lunch break! Here’s just a few free courses you can choose from: How to Create a Killer Musician WebsiteTheory for Bedroom Producers, Touring on a Shoestring, and How to Get All the Royalties You Never Knew Existed.

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Christine Elise Occhino
Christine Elise Occhino

Christine Elise Occhino is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for the music business. In addition to being a vocalist herself, she is the CEO of Elise Music Group, Artistic Director of The Pop Music Academy, and owner of Stamford Recording Studio. She is also the proud Founder and Executive Director of Hope in Harmony, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that uses music to help and heal those in need. Christine is a member of the Grammy Recording Academy, the American Society of Composers, Authors, & Publishers, and the Berklee College of Music Alumni Association. She has spoken on many music industry panels, contributed writing for music business publications for over a decade, and currently hosts the music-based web series and podcast, Soundbytez.