I hate the term networking with a passion. It’s so cold. To me, networking spells out shaking hands and collecting business cards. Networking is always looking over the other person’s shoulder to see if there is someone more important in the room.
Instead of networking, I choose to build relationships with people. Anyone I do business with, I want to be friends. Life’s too short to work with anyone you don’t like. While I may not be incredibly awesomely close to all of my business friends, they are friends nonetheless, and they know that I will move mountains for them.
In this blog post, I have distilled the wisdom passed down to me from masters of relationship building. These ideas will revolutionize how you think about people, relationships, and the game.
Your Network = Your Net Worth
Building a web of relationships of people who you want to be with is incredibly important. It’s often said that you are the average of the 5 people you are closest too. This applies in many ways–income, beliefs, habits, skills. When seeking out new relationships, it is mucho important to focus on leveling up. If you want to be somewhere, find someone who is already there. They will teach you.
Once you find who you want to hang with, you must connect with them in a considerate way. This might sound charitable, but being considerate of the other person is actually extremely selfish. When you seek to understand before you are understood, you give your words maximum impact because you know how they will affect the other person. In sales talk, this is called pre-qualifying. When you study the people you want to bring into your circle, look for problems that you can solve for them, or gifts that they would appreciate.
A part of being considerate is to separate the person’s work from their play. For instance, if you open up for a big-name producer, chances are he does not want to hear your music. As friend recounted advice to me:
“I’ve seen many DJs throw away flashdrives that locals give them. Just be the person that they want to hang out with. They know you make music. They know you want to give them music. Just be cool and patient.”
If you are sending an article to a prospective friend, make sure that it appeals to something that interests them, not necessarily their job. Find the weird hobbies that they enjoy, and search and search for obscure content to show them. If you can legitimately interest someone with a spot-on piece of information, gift, or favor, you can move mountains and network with whoever you please.
Keep Things Short
When you’re building relationships, realize that influential people are busy. Contacting an influential person should always be quick and to the point. When emailing, keep the sentence count to max of 4. Get the point and provide the value right away. The most common mistake people make when contacting influential people is that they feel the need to lengthily introduce themselves. You do not need 3 paragraphs to introduce yourself! Be quick.
Here’s an example email, something that I would send out to an A-List artist:
“Hi, I’m Sky, and I own a clothing company for producers called Pariah Reign. I like your music. Can I send you some free product? Check out the attached pictures and let me know which ones you would like. I can even send you all of them.
Boom! It’s quick. It’s fast. It’s to the point. This email displays distilled communication. Every sentence is as short and direct as possible. There is not a single sentence that does not deserve to be there.
Patience is Major Key
When you develop a relationship, you end up learning about each other over time. Being short in your communications will make up in the months and years you will spend getting to know each other. It is okay to skip your long life-story at first because you will have the chance to tell it.
Most people fail at relationship building because they can only see the short-term results. Someone, at some point, sent an email to Herobust, wanting him to play their first song ever made. The song was probably terrible, and Herobust’s first impression was that the artist sucked. Imagine if that artist ended up opening for Herobust years later. While Herobust may not remember the artist specifically, the relationship starts off at a weird place where the little guy asked and the big guy didn’t respond.
Compare that to this. The same producer spent years perfecting the craft and building an independent career. She learned how to kill it in the studio and on the stage. She’s building up, and building up, until a blog feature winds its way across Herobust’s Twitter feed. The song is dope, and is downloaded right away. After Herobust plays the song live, the patient producer contacts him, giving thanks for sharing her music. This is the beginning of a relationship. This is a long-game.
The 51/49 Principle
Gary Vaynerchuk has a philosophy for building relations which I absolutely love. His thesis is that in every relationship you engage with, you should provide the majority of the value–even if it’s 51% to 49% of the total. This means that you should always be trying to out-favor or out-nice people that you want to have in your network. You should provide more benefit to the other person then they can ever provide to you. This works in business, as well as it does in romantic relationships and friendships completely outside the industry (yes they do exist). Another way of looking at this is give before you ask, and give often.
The more you give, the more you can ask. Think about that. If you want more for someone, if you want more from life, just give more.
Get Out There!
Now that you have the tools, get out there! Make a list of people who you want to be friends with, and friend the hell out of them. Remember, be nice, be courteous, be consistent.
If you want to become my friend, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to chat with you about music, life, cooking, whatever. It might take me a while to get back to you, but it will happen.
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