We talked some time ago about the importance of making friends rather than just contacts (see here). I wanted to revisit the topic to add some more thoughts.
Persistence is Good. Being Annoying and Rude Isn’t
If you go to networking events, when you find someone you want to talk to, don’t barge in on conversations. The kind of people you want to talk to are probably in demand. If they are already talking to someone, by all means join the group, but to start with, just listen and nod when you agree. If, after a minute or two, you have something to add to the current conversation, or a question to ask about it, wait for a lull in the conversation and then go for it.
Interrupting a conversation is rude. No one will thank you and you’ll be marked as someone to avoid. Joining in, if done sensitively can make friends. If you join in for a while, inevitably there may come a suitable point to guide the conversation towards your objective. But is it wise to even bother?
Make Friends, Not Contacts
If you make a friend, a friend will want to help much more than a stranger.
One very successful writer/producer I know, when artists are sent to him, upon their arrival, he grabs his coat and takes them to the pub. He talks about anything but work; sports, politics, TV; anything which he finds interesting. If they get on, he accepts the project and makes the album/single. If not, he says, “thanks, but no thanks”. His point?If he can’t get on in the pub with the artist just chatting, how will they get on while working together? He wants to work with people he connects with.
Don’t just assume that because you’re in the room with them that they’re obliged to help you. Don’t even ask for help on the first meeting. Everyone else does. Be different and stand out. Sure, they’ll take your card/CD/flyer and smile and say thank you, and afterwards dump them all in the trash. Just don’t waste your time.
Make them laugh. Entertain them with great stories. Get them interested in you as a person, not an artist. Don’t even talk about your music on the first meeting unless asked. Focus on making a friend. They have no obligation to do anything for you or anyone else and no time to follow up every person who shakes their hand and thrusts a CD at them.
Follow-Up and Be Polite
After the meeting feel free to send a short email saying how much you enjoyed meeting them and thank them for making you feel so “at home”. Unless you have already discussed and agreed to send them something, don’t. However, if your email signature should just happen to contain a link to your website, so be it, but keep it subtle. 😉
At a later date (but not so long that they forget who you are), feel free to send them a link to something they will find interesting or entertaining, related to something you chatted about, and say, I saw this and thought you would like to see it. Include a “how are you doing?” before the link.
If they reply, maybe you could invite them for a drink and a chat? If they say yes, you’re in. But don’t suddenly turn into a salesman. They’re expecting to meet the friendly guy they chatted to before. By all means bring up your project later in the evening, but don’t ask for help (remember that’s what everyone else does); wait for it to be offered. Better still, if they’re having trouble with something, maybe you can help them? Focus on making a friend, and if you play it cool, all else will follow.
Let me know how you get on.