What do you do when you meet your favourite celebrity? Or when you forget someone's name? Don't worry we have all the networking answers for you right here. The Women in Music Sydney (WIMSyd) networking breakfast imparted non-stop wisdom for networking in the music industry, and just networking in general.
Back in May 2021, WIMSyd brought together some impressive women - Jacqui Louez Schoorl (Founder of WIMSyd and CEO / Co-Founder of Jaxsta), Poppy Reid (Managing Editor of The Brag Media) and Nancy Lipman (Transformational Coach Executive, Artist Coach & Mentor, NLP Practitioner & Founder at WingWoman) - to give us their best tips and tricks.
1) Don't ask 'What do you do?'
Don’t be the person to ask ‘What do you do?’ but rather ‘What are you working on at the moment?’ or ‘What are you passionate about?’
This is important for a number of reasons:
What someone does as a job and what they are passionate about may not be the same thing. What you really want to know from someone is what gets them up in the morning.
Simply stating their job description or trying to describe what they do may be difficult and not prompt the person to share the most interesting parts of their work...what you want to know!
Opening the conversation up to a person's passion will bring out their excitement and spark that will make conversation flow and connection much easier.
People may now be unemployed due to COVID and answering what they do can be tough.
2) Don't be afraid to do a little online stalking
It's totally okay to do a little online stalk before a networking function. If you know who is going to be there or who you want to talk to beforehand, do your research!
This way you can seamlessly slip into conversation by discussing something relevant to them or congratulating them on their most recent achievement. This will help the other person feel at ease, make them feel important and make you look up-to-date with all the latest news in the industry.
If you've been thrust into networking without warning - just go to the bathroom. It's never to late to get your stalk on. Figure out who you want to speak to, slip off to the bathroom, get the information you need and emerge a nifty networker.
This is also a great technique for us anxious humans out there! If you don't believe in your improv abilities (I know I don't), this way you can feel prepared and stay engaged in conversation.
3) How to enter a group conversation
Rule #1: it's not all about you.
Of course you want to get the most out of your networking experience but make sure you remember that there are other people doing the same thing.
If you're trying to enter a group conversation that has already started, hover back a little, listen and wait for a break in the conversation before you join.
This gives you the chance to:
Hear what they're talking about and keep on topic when you join.
Not interrupt the current conversation that may be really important for somebody. This shows that you respect all the people in the conversation and you're not there just to get what you want.
If you are finding it difficult to catch on to conversation, don't worry! Just introduce yourself confidently and prompt "so, what have you been talking about?". Try and be engaged in discussion, don't force it and the group will naturally open up to you.
4) Silence can speak volumes
Listen more than you speak, remembering that sometimes the best response is silence. When you listen deeply, you’ll uncover what the other person is really trying to say and this will result in better conversation and connection.
5) Don't gossip
Don’t be negative and never gossip. Be positive, professional and a person that can be trusted. If someone is fishing for gossip, try to deflect it with an offhand comment and move on to show you won’t be drawn into it.
6) The dreaded moment when you forget someone's name
When you learn someone's name, say it again and again in your head. Try to associate their name with something if that helps e.g. if you know someone with the same name, try to connect the two somehow. This may seem like an unnecessary exercise but if you're networking and meeting a bunch of new people, this will make a world of difference.
If it just doesn't stick, don't be afraid to say: "I'm sorry, I'm having a moment and I've forgotten your name" OR if you want to be a little more stealthy...if you have a friend with you, get them to introduce themselves so you don't have to.
7) How to keep calm & engaged even when you're anxious
The eye trick. If you're anxious or nervous, look at someone directly at the top of their nose without actually looking directly at their eyes - it helps to keep you calmer if eye contact feels tricky (and they won't be able to tell the difference).
8) When you meet someone famous or that you idolise
Of course you can acknowledge who they are and their influence on you, but do not take up too much time or space. Speak quickly, introduce yourself and move on.
Celebrities are people too and are trying to go about their regular lives. You don't want to fangirl too hard or draw unwanted attention to them, particularly in public. And if they are in a networking environment there will definitely be others that will want to speak to them - don't be a hog.
However, if they then engage you in conversation that’s a different story. Like any other conversation, if they want to keep talking they will give you signs and prompts.
9) How to politely leave a conversation
At networking events, you’re there to meet people and honestly, get a good return on your time. Try saying “It’s been great talking with you. I’m here to meet as many people as possible but let’s please keep in touch."
If you've discussed something in particular or recommended something during the conversation, bring it up to show that you valued their time e.g. "I'll send you a link to that article I was talking about."
10) Once you've left the room, you're still networking
You want to be memorable and this means you have to follow up.
Block out half an hour post-event to follow up. Within a couple of hours after the event is best. You are both fresh in each others' minds and you'll have the best luck remembering the conversations you had. Even just on the bus on the way back from the event, that can be a great time.
As for what to say - take your cues from people and listen to what they are saying. Try and message something relevant to what you were discussing at the event e.g. if you had a great recommendation for a podcast, book, TV show, etc send them the hyperlink or if you made tentative plans, follow up and get the ball rolling to show that you meant it when you said you should meet for coffee!
11) Communication online - emails & zoom
Ensure that you take the time to introduce yourself even if your name is there on the Zoom dialogue box. Make sure to include your company name next to your displayed name. There might be a lot of people on the call and instead of trying to remember every person's details, this can be very helpful. I'm sure other people will be grateful!
Waiting for a response...
If you are not hearing back from someone - check with a mutual friend to understand someone’s capacity or the best method of communication. Particularly during the pandemic, you don't know what is going on in someone's life. This quick check in could take pressure of the person and make your life much easier! Simply knowing that the person is snowed under and may take a week or two to respond can put your mind at ease and stop you from pestering a bit too much.
Don't be aggressive. Sometimes things can get missed. Technology is a great help but can also cause things to slip through the cracks. Don't assume someone is trying to ignore your, be forgiving and understand that mistakes happen.
12) Don't be afraid of 'the gentle prod'
You've sent an email that was extremely important to you with no response from the other end. Then you think...is it rude to send a follow up? Definitely not!
Don't be afraid of 'the gentle prod'. A great way to prod is with a nice reminder, "...popping this back to the top of your emails", followed by 3-5 bullet points that summarise what you want from them. People that receive hundreds of emails a day e.g. editors try and get through as many emails as possible but may not have the capacity. They definitely appreciate the prod but being able to skim an email and see all the information concisely laid out saves time and you're more likely to get what you're after. If they have to fish for the point, they may just move onto the next email.
How soon should you send a follow up? Wait one week before you follow up. Then another week for the next one. If you've contacted them 3 times with no success, you're going to have to let it go.
Now you know these top networking tips, go forth into the world and network away! If you have more neat tricks, please comment or send us a message.
To continue upskilling and learning industry tricks at events like this, follow Women in Music Sydney.
Women In Music Sydney is a non-profit organisation that brings together dedicated music industry professionals to network. It's all about building connections with other women in a relaxed environment. They create spaces for like-minded women to get together to share ideas, opportunities, knowledge and experience, and to inspire each other.
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