Networking is vital to success in the music business. Without it, you will get nowhere – period. But it can still be a stumbling block for a lot of singers who are much more comfortable with the
artistic side of things.
Also, many accomplished performers are essentially shy people. In fact, their vulnerability and shyness feeds and enhances their artistry and performance skills. They might come alive on stage, in the studio, or even become transformed by the glaring scrutiny of a spotlight. But when it comes to self-promotion or engaging in simple conversation, they clam up or self-edit, or they simply have trouble relaxing and being themselves.
Sometimes, it’s a case of not feeling comfortable with the business side of the industry. They might thrive on artistic expression and creativity and clam up when it comes to talking sales, marketing, image issues, and other necessities.
Some view networking as insincere, phony, or even manipulative. Some neglect or reject efforts at networking because of a lack of confidence, a fear of rejection or even a sense of not feeling worthy.
But there’s hope when you put things in perspective. When you think of getting ready for a performance, what are some things you do to shore up your levels of comfort, confidence, and competency? The obvious answer is: you make sure you are well-rehearsed, right?
Have you ever learned material that was challenging or had to learn choreography or blocking that seemed awkward or impossible at first? If so, what did it take to get comfortable, confident, and competent so that you could pull it off? Looking back on that journey from fear and doubt to growth and feeling grounded, how does it make you feel now?
Networking has never been more accessible, especially for those that are naturally shy, because of the variety of social networking platforms available via communication technology. Yet it can still be a bit intimidating for those that do not feel their social skills are their strong suit.
But that’s ok. There is some simple common sense process for starting out with small steps to help you get comfortable, grow your confidence, and feel more competent at networking.
In fact, the forums at SingingSuccess.tv are a great training ground for sharpening your communication skills. You get to be yourself, ask burning questions about the business and strategies for mapping out a strong business plan for achieving success, growing a fan base, finding material, and becoming a better vocalist.
Family + Friends
If the idea of approaching people you don’t know still challenges you, start with a small group of familiar faces such as your family and friends. You might be surprised to discover just how many potentially viable contacts you can make through people you already know.
By pooling and polling those you already know you can grow your confidence by networking where there is already an existing comfort level. As your confidence grows, you’ll start to naturally reach out, make more connections, and will gather more valuable information about the business so that you become better informed and less self-conscious.
In addition to friends and family, look into those you went to school or college with, including teachers and professors. Look into former coworkers from jobs you’ve held to see if they know anyone who might be a good resource. And again, use the forums here for gaining insight into networking and for building your circles of connection.
Insulate Don’t Isolate
Think of building a support group of experts on advancing your career. Choose a small group of at least two other people that you can meet with periodically to hold you accountable and provide direction along with positive reinforcement for your networking efforts.
Singer = Serious Business Owner
As a singer, singer-songwriter, singing musician, or musical performer, it’s vital that you see yourself as a business owner that happens to be an artist. As an artist, you have creativity as a powerful resource. Creative thinking and problem solving will help you come up with naturally unique ways to connect with others and address issues you have in terms of marketing, finding material, booking gigs – whatever you need.
The key is to put business first, not as a threat to your artistry, but as a plan for sharing, engaging, providing entertainment, and a means for your artistry to flourish. You want your networking to serve as nurturing. In other words, networking sets the table so that you are nurtured as an artist, and your audience is nourished by what you bring to the table to share.
Those new to networking often apologize when asking for somebody’s help because they see the process as entirely self-serving or as an imposition of some kind. However, the healthy view is to think in terms of how you can help or be of service to each person you approach.
Serve to Share
Think of it this way. What would you like your audience members to take away from one of your performances? Start thinking about what your gift can bring to those people with whom you network. Think of pieces of information, perspective, or insight that you can provide that might help the person that you contact.
By shifting your perspective from wanting something to giving something in return or sharing something, the potential for partnership and relationship is put into place. You then have something to build on.
Network to Connect
Think of networking as an extension of or connection to your audience. That’s really what it is. The stronger your networking base, the more you’ll learn about how to better serve those that love your voice and the songs you sing.
The well-known positive thinking business guru Dale Carnegie was one of the first true networking geniuses when he wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People. After nearly 75 years his simple advice still applies.
When you smile or display a positive, upbeat attitude, people are more open to listen to you and respond in kind. When you ask sincere questions, you validate the person on the receiving end, and you start a conversation you can build on while gathering valuable information.
Actively engaged listening is also another way to validate someone else, gain understanding, and strengthen a bond for networking. Learning about an individual and referring to what interests them, as well as using their name, invites greater levels of comfort and confidence, furthering securing the bond.
Be True – Be You
And, always be true to yourself! You can even talk about being shy and make a joke of it. Don’t try to be someone you are not, and don’t compromise your beliefs or ideals for the sake of becoming popular or making a connection. Be true to what’s you, and you will naturally engage those that will have your best interests at heart in helping you build your singing success.
Share Timely Interests
Share resources as you network. Keep an active on line presence through social networking resources and a personal website. Keep your information up to date, and invite feedback. Open communication is vital to your progress and success.
Engage in common interests shared by those with whom you network. Look for reasons to get together socially outside of your singing such as film, theatre, museums, sports – whatever passions you share outside of music. This can help relieve the stress that comes with feeling overly needy or indebted because of the music business connection.
If you’re afraid you’ll freeze up or get tongue-tied in a social setting, hold a rehearsal with friends. Think of possible opening lines or conversation topics you can bring up with people you meet. If you’re attending an event or meeting specifically for networking, think about questions you might be asked, and be prepared to respond. Once again, have a mock rehearsal interview or meeting with a couple friends like those that hold you accountable with your networking.
When you overcome your fear of rejection, it’ll be easier to reach out, open up, and risk networking.
One of the best confidence boosters is to book a session with a Brett Manning certified associate. Use the time spent building the relationship with your vocal coach to help you grow your confidence with networking. As you make progress in growing and strengthening your voice let that spill over into your networking growth as well.
Share your experiences, fears, questions, and progress with others through the SingingSuccess.TV forums.
Remember that success in your artistry is contingent upon the fan base you build that will ultimately become your strongest resource for networking. That is one of the secrets of true Singing Success!