An international festival or a conference is an ideal place for networking. Usually people working in the music industry are attending festivals to scout for talent, how the crowd reacts to certain acts and to see what is hot and what not. If you want to get the most out of this opportunity, you better come prepared. Networking is more than just a friendly chat or a sales pitch; it needs (SMART) objectives and preparation.
First thing to consider is what you want to get out of it; what do you aim for and whom do you need for that? It is advised to think that over and set goals that are specific and measurable, as well as achievable, realistic and time bound. So you need to think when you will be satisfied with the result, when looking back, when can you say that your networking was success?
Some people make business cards and set the goal that they want to hand out 20 cards to a specific group of people; that can be artists managers, agents, people working for record labels (see also Music Business Explained or under Artists) or potential sponsors, club managers, etc. Think whom you need to talk to reach your goals. Of course you can chitchat with people and give your cards out to random people, but we recommend targeting the right people who can help you to get where you want to be.
When attending a conference it is good to find out who will be attending. You can make a list of whom you’d like to speak to. What can help is to build on existing relationships and ask for help by getting introduced to certain people. When you get introduced, know your story and make it stand out. Shake their hand and repeat their name; it helps you remembering their name. If you meet up later and forgot his or her name, don’t worry; just ask – it happens to anyone (you can add a joke; humour is always good) Create, practice and use a description of yourself and your work that can be said in 30 seconds or less. A nice way of telling what you do, is to say what you do for people. For example, “I make people dance”, “I help people to keep fit (through dancing)”, “I comfort people when they are sad (when you make melancholic music)”, “I make people feel relaxed (when your music has more a chilled vibe), etc. This will make people curious and they might ask what it is you do. Then you can give a 2-minute pitch.
Believe in yourself your art, have a good story and practice. You need to be able to tell your story within 2 minutes and to be able to do that, you have to rehearse. Ask your fiends if you can try out your 2-minute pitch on them, ask them to time it, or practice in front of the mirror. It might sound silly, but it does help if you practice your pitch. It is good to listen more than you talk and to ask questions. Everybody loves it when people are interested in them.
Bring some business cards. They don’t have to be fancy; MYA is known for DIY business cards and flyers. We make everything ourselves and hand out mini flyers, just prints on little pieces of paper. Our business cards are also homemade and simple prints that we cut out. It takes some time, but we actually stood out because of our DIY prints and it became our trademark. It is also good to bring a pen and small notebook. My colleague Jorien never leaves home without her notebook and I always try to carry one as well.
When you want to push your music, make sure people can listen to your music on Soundcloud, Reverbnation, SonicBids or another online channel. It is good to have video, especially if your aim to get live shows booked. These live videos have to short, as promoters only listen to the first 10-30 seconds, so make sure you immediately hit the highlight as a decision is made within 10 seconds whether they want to book you or not (you can read more about this under ‘promoters’ in the section about Music Business Explained and under Artists). A Facebook page is good to have, as that is the place where you can put up links to your videos on YouTube and your music on other sites.
Initially, try to mingle. Talk for about 5 to 10 minutes to one person and then move on to try to cover as much ground as possible. Make sure you return to the people that can help your career. And contact these people via mail as soon as possible; ideally within 48 hours and no longer than 1 week
When you get the opportunity to network at an event, make sure you have game plan. Know your goals and talk to meaningful people who can help you reach your goals. Make yourself memorable! Spend time and energy in making yourself worth remembering. Have your music and (live) video available online, so people can listen to your music and see your performing live on stage. Practice your introduction (30 seconds max) and your 2-minute pitch. Bring business cards, listen & ask questions, and follow up via email within 2 days or max 1 week.