If you’re like me, the idea of spending any length of time at a social event talking to LOTS AND LOTS of people makes you want to crawl back into your pajamas, get under the covers, and hibernate until you completely forget about it. Also, if you’re like me, you know that networking is a necessary evil, especially for songwriters. Here are some proven tips to take the pressure off of “casual mingling”:
Embrace the small talk.
This is what all these networking events are about: Small talk. Everyone expects it. Don’t feel like you have to instantly connect with someone the second you meet them and have an amazing, meaningful conversation. Networking events are all about dipping in, saying “Hey!”, and making considerate, thoughtful acquaintances with folks you can potentially collaborate with. It’s perfectly ok to be casual and ask folks “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?”, etc!
Ask other people about themselves.
It’s SOOO much easier to meet someone new when you don’t have to do the talking! Ask your new friend about themself. Ask them where they’re from, where they went to school or what they studied. What kind of music do they like, what do they write, what was the musician that first inspired them. Then, when they answer, ask them about their answer. You’ll be amazed at how quickly this breaks the ice and you can start a wonderful conversation with a complete stranger.
Ask them what their passionate about.
This is probably the most fun question you could ask anyone. What do they love! What gets them up in the morning! What makes their heart race! People love talking about what they love, and the excitement is contagious. And don’t worry if you don’t know anything about their passion – that’s why you’re asking them! To learn more about them and catch some of that enthusiasm.
Have a business card.
I can’t stress this enough! All your gearing up to go out and socialize will be in vain if you don’t have a card to leave with folks. This is how they will contact you after they realize how cool you are. This is what will jog someone’s memory when they need a co-writer, when they see your card in their rolodex. It’s an awesome bit of networking that works for you, even when you’re not around.
It’s ok to check out when you’ve had enough.
Please, please, puh-leeze do not feel guilty about leaving the event before it’s over! There’s no harm in checking out when you feel depleted.* The point is that you went, despite your nerves, and you talked to some folks. You showed face. You kicked your negative, doubting thoughts to the curb. There’s no shame in heading back home after a short time. Just remember to save all the business cards you’ve collected!
Do you have any other tips for networking that have helped you along the way? Please share them below! I’d love to use ’em myself!
*Open mic nights excluded!