If you’re like me circa 10 years ago, you’re kinda freaked out about networking. In fact, you’d do almost anything to avoid it. After all, talking to strangers, trying to “sell” yourself, and investing all that time and energy into something that doesn’t produce immediate results? Exhausting, right?!
If you’d have told 20 year old me that building relationships and so called “networking” would be one of my favorite things ever, I’d have laughed at you. And yet, a decade later it’s true—relationship building is one of my favorite things. And you know what? It’s what’s built my business, allowed me to go full time in the music industry (within a year of starting, I might add) and helped me continue to grow my career and opportunities. All of that, just from talking to people.
When I put it that way, it’s a little more appealing right? I mean, if you can go full time in your music career just by learning to talk to people, that might not be so bad.
While I’m sure you’ve heard all the recycled tips on networking, we wanted to deliver something a little fresher today. So without further ado, here are five ways to build relationships that you probably haven’t tried.
Get in the DMs—audio DMs that is
One of my favorite strategies as of late is audio direct messages. They are such a powerful way to connect with people on a totally new, and more authentic level. I believe fully that you should be connecting with fans and potential collaboration partners regularly in the DMs anyway, but doing an audio message allows them to really feel like they know you, and I promise you they’re going to appreciate a quick 60 seconds of you thanking them for following/commenting on their reply to your story/responding the their story/etc than they will just a quick “like” or text comment that looks like its been copy and pasted.
I get that it can feel scary to send an audio message—there’s a layer of vulnerability to it, but that’s also the beauty of it. And look, you can always re-record if you mess up. It doesn’t autosend.
Host your own (virtual) event
One of the ways I grew my network in the very beginning was to host in person networking events. Sometimes 30 people came, sometimes 5 people came. It didn’t matter—I was putting myself and my name out there just by hosting it and talking about it non stop, and sharing social proof of those 5 or 30 people attending and that helped a LOT with my own visibility and name recognition.
Today of course, in person events aren’t a great idea, so I suggest you take this online. Hosting a monthly (or weekly if you’re really going for it!) an event where you get together and talk shop with others in your community is a great way to build your network, and it also helps you with your own strategies and growth. After all, to really succeed we need that accountability and insight from others. We need community—we can’t succeed on our own.
Make this event as broad or specific as you’d like. Maybe it’s for all musicians and industry in your area. Maybe it’s just musicians. Or maybe it’s just musicians in the rock genre. You get to decide.
Look for opportunities everywhere—and then create them yourself
Sometimes we get stuck waiting for other people to create our life for us, and that includes our opportunities. We wait for someone to discover us, to do the hard work, to come to us, when in reality, successful people need to make their own opportunities.
Ex: Are you waiting for another band to ask you to collaborate so you can get access to new fans? Stop it! Instead, take this into your own hands and find a few bands whose fans would like you and reach out to them with a few collaboration ideas and get it rolling.
Do you want more streams and you’re waiting to be discovered by a playlist? Make your own, and include other artists who you know will share it, to get more eyes on it.
Final point on this: no one is coming to save you. So if you want to make this work, then make it work. Think about what you want and then figure out how to make it happen.
Make groups your second home
Social media groups are an incredible way to build your relationships and I would bet that you’re either not in them, or not using them properly.
Groups are not a dumping ground for your latest release. The best groups will be the ones that encourage sharing, discussion, reflection, and a place to really talk and get to know one another (the same as you would with an in person meet-up)
Find 2-3 groups you really love, that resonate and are full of your ideal fans or your ideal collaboration partners, and start to interact in them daily. Even just a few thoughtful comments a couple times a week, and showing up consistently will really help to get your name out, and get people curious about you and your music.
Get creative with your marketing
Marketing doesn’t have to be this big scary word. In fact, it can actually be kind of fun when you do it on your own terms.
To start, think about different ways you can build relationships with your fans and the people you want to work with. Maybe you send them holiday cards (I’ve been doing this for nearly a decade and you wouldn’t believe how much people love getting something nice and personalized like this in the mail!) Maybe you send them a handwritten letter everytime they order merch, maybe you run a giveaway and send the winner freshly baked cookies and a thank you card.
Just have fun and get creative with how you show up. People will not only appreciate it, but they’ll talk about it and that’s the best tool you can hope for.
How will you start building your relationships?
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.