If you’ve ever been the new kid at school, you know that you always seem to meet the trouble makers first. Not so difficult to figure out they are on the outs with the people who make positive things happen. They aren’t necessarily loners, but typically they don’t have that many friends. They’re charming, confident, and have certain areas of expertise, but their goal is not to be your friend. Their goal is to exploit you for their own purposes.
The same is true in the professional side of music.
As a general rule, it’s hard to find good people to work with right off the bat because they’re busy. They also know the riffraff is out there, and they don’t want to get involved. So how are you supposed to create relationships with those who will help you the most, not waste your time or money, and get you off on the right foot?
Be observant. In social media it’s easier than ever to monitor and measure those who can actually help you. Then begin talking with them. Ask if you can email or call to discuss your current project, and what your goals are. Don’t settle for those you talk to first. Talk to a lot of different people.
It’s important to have good chemistry in a working relationship, so trust your intuition. Listen to what they don’t say as much as what they do tell you. Make sure you’re asking the right questions.
This network is not a one-way street for anyone. Always make suggestions of new clients and anyone you know who may be of interest to those you’re talking with. The best thing you can do as an artist is refer new clients to industry professionals. Build community around yourself first rather than join someone else’s community.
Most people believe that going to conferences that fit your style music is the way to go. It doesn’t hurt at all, but it really doesn’t help all that much either. They’re expensive if you’re on a limited budget, but there is generally a lot of good information available everywhere you turn. But when you follow up with these folks, they most often have too much on their plate and aren’t as helpful back in their routine as they were at the conference. Save your money if you have a tight budget and network all year through with the same people when they’re in their natural environment.
Be careful not to waste people’s time. Follow up when necessary and do the things your mama always told you to do. Send thank you notes, cards at holidays, birthdays if you know them, and when you know there might be a new baby on the way or someone lost a member of their family.
Treat people the way you’d like to be treated, and doors will begin to open. The Golden Rule is more hip than most people give it credit for.