Networking is critical to any career, but in the tight-knit Australian music industry, where entrepreneurs and employees thrive and dive on relationships alone, how you conduct yourself both on and offline is crucial.
Good networking isn’t about how many hands you shake or how many business cards you distribute – and it’s certainly not about how many people know your name. If you’re new to the music industry, or just want to sharpen your social skills, check out our top tips below.
1. Don’t limit the people you network with to the people who work in the sector you want to be in
For example, some people we know who work at major labels, started work in print media. Industry jobs don’t have direct ladders to the top.
2. Go to events with a friend or someone you know
It can help with breaking the ice and it’s good to chat to someone as you settle in.
3. Don’t be a social climber
Just because the person doesn’t hold a position of influence, or can’t help you professionally, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your time. Networking purely for selfish gain is bad networking and won’t get you far.
4. Don’t over-exaggerate your experience
If you know very little it can often work in your favour. Some companies enjoy the process of shepherding an employee.
5. Don’t pretend to know every band someone brings up in conversation
You WILL get found out eventually.
6. Do your best to remember names
Try not to fall on the use of ‘mate’, ‘dude’ and ‘big dog’ when you shake hands.
7. Run the marathon, not the race
Don’t expect a JV after one conversation. Be courteous and keep expectations minimal.
8. Do your homework
Be informed about who the person you’re talking to is and where they fit in.
9. Don’t gossip
It’s a tiny industry and bad news travels fast.
10. Focus on “palm-up” networking
This is where you network to give, not receive. You’ll get yours in due time.
11. Know your audience
If your goal is to run a record label and learn from those at the top of their game, understand how they like to communicate. Don’t tweet the head of Future Classic if you know he hasn’t tweeted since he joined in 2009 (If you’re reading this Nathan, sorry for calling you out).
12. Use social media
Networking doesn’t begin and end at the Lorde listening party. Your online persona is just as important as your offline persona – so keep the personal rants about your co-worker Susan to a minimum. Also know your format; Twitter and LinkedIn are great tools for direct engagements with those you haven’t met. Facebook, not so much.
13. Don’t be shy
The oft-used rule of ‘play it cool’ is necessary, yes, but we live in a world of entrepreneurs who achieved their goals after going after what they wanted.
14. Early on in your career, take on a job or a project on, even if it’s shit pay
Yes, there will come a time when you need to put yourself at a high price point, but early on you should be jumping in taking a lot of projects purely for the relationship opportunity. Seeing this as “being taken advantage of” is short sighted, you should be the one taking advantage!
Use every project, internship or job as an opportunity to build relationships with people at all levels in the organisation, if all you’re doing is your work – you’re a fool. Build relationships, learn, offer help, grow.