That thing marketing people to do connect with other people so they can grow their brands. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing when you go to conferences, meetups, and events, right?
Traditional networking and the networking so many creatives and music-entrepreneurs (“musicpreneurs” as coined by my buddy Tommy Darker) do today are vastly different. The old school method was about building a relationship with specific people to provide reciprocal connection.
Or let me phrase that differently for a layman’s term understanding:
Old school networking was about building a two-way street where both parties benefit from connection with each other.
Networking That Fails
That’s not the same kind of networking I’m seeing. It’s likely not the networking you’ve been doing. What folks are doing now (that they’re called “networking”) is one-sided pitching with the intention of getting noticed.
There’s a difference between trying to appeal to someone to like you so that you can benefit from their influence, connections, and network, and actually building a relationship with specific people where both of you benefit from the engagement.
One is focused on the individual. The other is focused on the connection. There’s a big difference.
This is a practice in giving and receiving value. Value is giving worth to something or someone that you prize as being significant. What you value, and place significance on, has a powerful meaning to you in how you treat it.
Networking That Works
Think about this in terms of something you consider valuable.
You’re likely to treat a Mickey Mantle rookie card in mint condition with a lot of special treatment in how you care for it, should that ever become something in your possession.
You’ll make sure it has a protective case, is secured and away from the ground where pets or children might accidentally get a hold of it.
We can treat our relationships and connections with people with a similar kind of value. We can hold other people in regard for who they are and what they mean to us beyond just want that connection might do for us in a selfish way.
This is a different method of building relationships. It’s real networking that actually works.
How To Network At An Event
In a real-world example, let’s talk about an event you may find yourself at like SXSW. What’s a good way to network your band while you’re at an event where 150,000 creatives converge into one place for a week?
Should you get a ton of cards and flyers printed up so you can hand them off to everyone you see? You could, but that’s more of a marketing and promotional endeavor than it is a networking action.
Should you approach every speaker, panelist, promoter, and person of influence with promotional materials, a press kit, and CDs so they can pick you up to grow your music? You could, but that’s another action geared towards trying to market yourself.
Handing someone a flyer, business card, press kit, or CD at an event is an act of “notice me and follow my music!” You can start a conversation with someone to get them to stop and listen, but what is your intention?
Marketing And Networking Are Similar But Different
Networking that works (going back to the old school method) is a actionable steps with the intention of providing benefit to two or more parties. It’s not a promotional act. Handing out materials to strangers with the hope that they will pay attention after you leave their presence, listen to your tracks, and then take the initiative to follow up with you is not what networking is.
That’s marketing. Ineffective marketing usually, but marketing all the same.
Networking is an act of knowing and being known back. It’s something my friend Shaine Freeman excels at. His podcast and music media platform has been instrumental in this way for years.
Networking involves being specific. It involves having a conversation and building a dialogue with someone with the intention of growing something that serves both you and them.
It’s placing value on the individual for who they are, what they do, and the people their work benefits. The intention creates the opportunity for them to value you in those same ways. Then both of you win.
Make Your Intention To Network The Right Way To Win New Contacts
Networking is a focused endeavor. Long term growth strategy is the key to success. Tracking your contacts is building relationship.
It’s exchanging contact info, be that in business card or flyer or social media details. It’s you taking the initiative to follow up shortly after the contact is made and build on the interaction you shared. It’s what I reference in Being First in this video.
This isn’t a secret, but it is something a lot of creatives, entrepreneurs and people trying to build their contact list don’t do often. It’s old fashioned, like Dale Carnegie old. He’s the man behind How To Win Friends And Influence People. Kinda the go-to expert on effective influence building and growth.
“You can gain more friends in two months by showing interest in other people than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you.” -Dale Carnegie
One act is placing value on the connection with the other person. The other is about trying to shine the spotlight on yourself.
One works in creating opportunities for growth.
The other is just playing in the dirt.
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