Like a lot of musicians, I seem to have a quirk in my personality. Ask me to perform (or speak) in front of a thousand people, and I am fine with it. But, ask me to go up to one stranger at an event and “network” while exchanging business cards and I shrivel up.
With AsiaMatters and MusicMatters happening next week (the closest we have in Asia to SXSW), I thought it was time to take a look at networking, from a musician’s perspective. I’ve outlined what I do to prepare for a conference and also sought out some expert advice on networking from Jasper Donat, the President of MusicMatters.
The idea of going on stage doesn’t daunt most musicians because we (should) know how to prepare for a gig (and most of us have played some pretty weird gigs). Networking has its own set of preparation skills. Here’s my pre-conference check-list,
1. Check out who’s going – read through the speaker lists, check out the band websites, investigate the sponsors and use the conference networking tool. Also, look people up on Twitter and LinkedIn.
2. Get some business cards – the only thing worse than having cards with out of date contact info or employment details is having no cards at all.
3. Update the website – I’m rolling out a new website design this weekend. It will be minor changes, but the site will support the message I’ll be giving at the conference.
4. Kick Twitter into gear – there is no better social media tool for conferences than Twitter. Create lists for people attending the conference and artists performing in the showcase. Create saved searches for the three conference hashtags (#dm12, #mm12, #mml12).
5. Practice the pitch – OK, I don’t really have anything to sell this year. But, it still helps to ready to tell my story and answer the obvious questions about background, experience, plans, dreams, etc.
6. Reach out – set up some meetings and try to connect with people who could be interesting to talk to. The more you talk, the more you get to talk and the more you get introduced to people you want to talk to.
7. Hit inbox zero – it’s hard to be responsive and focussed when your email inbox is full of clutter, junk and other commitments. Clear out the emails so you can respond to conference related communications as they come in.
An Expert’s View Of The Conference
Of course, that’s just the preparation. To understand better how to make the most of a conference like MusicMatters, I decided to go straight to the top and ask the Jasper Donat, the president of President Music Matters and Digital Matters and also Co-Founder & CEO Branded, for his insights into networking at a major conference.
Jasper’s Key Points
What’s your pitch?
What’s your desired outcome?
Take it to the man
How can you achieve this in 20-30 seconds?
Help each other
Follow up is the real work
One Final Thought
If you haven’t already done so, take a look at my piece 7 Kinds Of People You Need In Your Creative Universe. There are all sort of ways the people you meet might be able to help you towards your dreams.