3 Easy Steps to Follow Up Like a Pro.
Networking is an important skill for musicians to master. More so than other industries, a musician’s ability to connect with others directly impacts their ability to get more gigs. In our current “connection economy” networking is the currency of choice.
I have to admit something … I don’t believe I’m that good at networking. Those who know me might disagree. They’ll comment on how outgoing I am and easy to talk to. Many people ask me for names of good private teachers or session musicians. I have a large roster of musicians to fill out my weekly gigs. And, in my younger years I couldn’t walk into a venue, bar, cafe or music shop without knowing somebody that either worked there or was a patron.
Still, networking is a challenge for me, especially now that I’m out of college and don’t go out on the scene as much. I find myself having to be ever more intentional about my networking efforts. Without the advantage of living on campus or in an urban environment where music is everywhere, I have to be strategic about creating connections that lead to more work.
Today, I want to share my method for following up with those people who can influence your career and get more out of the connections you already have.
I’ve also included a freebie for you to help keep track of your networking. Read on to learn more.
Step 1. Who Matters Most?
Chances are, you already have some connections that can have a huge impact on your ability to get more work. You just need to activate that network. Your goal is to track the people and the interactions you’re having to steer your music career in the direction you want to go. Otherwise, we can drift and find ourselves far from where we want to be.
Tier 1 – Create a list of the 20 Most Important Contacts you already know.
These are your Tier 1 type people. These folks have a direct impact on your ability to work and probably get you the gigs you already have. You want to make sure you have constant contact with them.
Some people suggest 2 – 3 times per year but I say more. You want to treat these folks almost as friends, or at least work colleagues. Most musicians I know are friends with this 1st tier of their network.
For now, just list the names of these folks. Later, we’ll schedule some actions for this group.
Tier 2 – Influencers
Next, you’ll want to start listing people you know of that could lead to more work. You may know them personally or not. Don’t be afraid of them being on a different level than you. The point is to think about the gatekeepers and influencers who are active in the community you want to be a part of. Then, start making a plan to connect with them.
Be sure to list:
- Booking Agents
- Sound Engineers
- Music Directors
- Publication Editors
- Gear Liaisons
- Label Execs
- Bar/Restaurant Managers
- Event Planners
- Other Musicians
Tier 3 – Fans and other Supporters
This last group is a bit more ambiguous. Ultimately, it will include your target audience, your fans, and those who want to see you succeed but don’t have a huge impact on your career as individuals. As a group, however, they can be very influential to those in the top two tiers.
This is where you want to create your customer avatar – your target audience. Instead of thinking of this group as a giant mob, picture an ideal fan. Someone who is die-hard about what you do. You may want to write down the age, gender, likes/dislikes of this person. This is called demographics and psychographics. I’ll go into more specifics in an other post here.
For our purposes in this exercise we want to have an easy way to identify and later track our interactions with this group.
In my upcoming Free webinar, I’ll go into a deep dive about engaging with different members of each tier. You can sign up today and reserve your seat.
Step 2. Initiate Contact
Now that we have our list we want to schedule interactions with them. It’s a good idea to have a very clear ask for those in the top two tiers. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time by just inviting someone to coffee to talk shop.
Shoot for a specific result. If your goal is more studio work as a freelancer, ask the studio what they look for in a player. Offer to solve a particular problem they are having in their business or refer them to someone who can.
Here are a few tips at making a real connection when networking:
- Give before you ask – I’m working on this a lot lately. It’s easy to say “Hey, I play drums. Anybody got gigs?” That usually falls on deft ears and could hurt you more in the long run. Instead, offer resources that could help those you want to work with.
- Be the connector – Another way to help others is to connect them with people they need to meet. The producer that struggles with finding a pedal steel player will remember you for introducing them. This could be non musicians too. You might know accountants, web developers, photographers or other folks that you could refer people to.
- Be generous – Go the extra mile and show thanks in unique ways. A hand written card stands out in our digital age. Taking the time to let people know that you appreciate them will create strong connections for the future. Instead of mentioning a book to someone, send them a copy. Give away your cd or merch to anyone who helps you.
- Be yourself – Sometimes this gets overlooked. It’s easy to think that being professional means speaking a certain way or being boring. It doesn’t have to be. Relax. Use the same enthusiasm you have with your friends while networking. You should still observe certain etiquette but don’t stuff your personality. It’s also good to inject a little more personal info into your exchanges.
Step 3. Follow Up
This is what separates the wannabes from the achievers. I would know – I’m terrible at following up! I’m very good at talking up ideas and creating visions for the future. I’m even talented at creating strategies to achieve those ideas.
But when it comes to following up – I’m a total amateur.
That’s why I need systems in place to help me accomplish things. I need a brain for my brain.
I first heard of using a follow-up calendar from Colin Thomson over at the Modern Musician Show. He suggests that it takes an average of 12 interactions to get a definitive yes or no to a request. A majority of people stop following up after only 2 attempts!
So, are you failing because your not good enough? Or, are you just not following through enough?
Be persistent in your interactions with others and you may find better results than you’ve ever imagined.
Persistent, but not obnoxious. This means to politely follow up until you get a clear yes or no. Do NOT stop before this, but also do not continue after the no. Remain in contact in unobtrusive ways but understand when to let it go.
Record your interactions in the follow-up spreadsheet.
- Take careful notes on every single interaction.
- Schedule time for your next follow-up.
- Have a Clear Ask. Know what you want from the conversation.
Now, take action!
This will only work if you actually do the work. If you’re like me, you need some action items to get started. This week I challenge you to get these done and tell me how it went.
- Create your list
- Have specific questions, insights, resources, project ideas or other valuable thing to present each person on this list.
- Schedule dates/times to connect and follow up for each person.
I’m certain you’ll be surprised at the results of this exercise. Also, by engaging more with others and being intentional about it, you’ll start to see work come your way that might of seemed out of reach. I’m curious to hear what you’ll discover.
To help you put this strategy in action, join me for my live, FREE Master Class . .
Stick with me and I’ll walk you through how to create your plan, step-by-step.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How create a 5-step Networking Masterplan that will keep you working year-round on projects you choose and keep you at the front of people’s minds when they need someone with your talents.
- Learn to engage with others in a way that is inviting and comfortable and that allows others to express themselves more freely around you. People work with those they trust and enjoy being around. Be that guy.
- How to follow up with people that doesn’t seem pushy but still creates action. Plus, a simple method for tracking your conversations.
- You’ll also learn how to overcome any anxiety or self-limiting beliefs you may have when it comes to networking. (You can even apply these techniques to other areas of your life).
This special training is for YOU if you want to finally create intention with your network and start getting the gigs you WANT and DESERVE!