Growing up, my mother used to always use the well known phrase “No man is an island” and from early on I grasped the essence of this statement. In life, we sometimes fall into a trap of trying to take on too much without seeking assistance. Unfortunately for me, I am not an exception when it comes to this drawback. I call it a drawback because anytime you find yourself trying to bite of more than you can chew, especially when there are people that can assist, pride is most certainly at play. Last week I wrote about the necessity of wearing multiple hats as an independent artist, and I feel I must stress that we only do that due to a lack of options. However, if there are people that can help do some heavy lifting, or can give you access to people that are able to help, it is imperative that you make use of these connections. I often get intrigued when someone comes to me complaining about being burnt out as a result of having too much on their plate, and yet the stress can easily be alleviated if they tap into their personal network. In the music world, the term networking is tossed around with reckless abandon, and at times people assume they have made a solid connection by virtue of just meeting someone that can help them in one way or the other. However there is more to the concept of networking, allow me to explore this notion.
Feed the Beast – Nurturing the Relationship
Like any relationship, I have found it very important to invest a significant amount of time in strengthening connections I have made in the music industry. It requires genuine effort to consolidate links to ensure they can be utilised further down the road. I feel I must put emphasis on the word GENUINE, because it shouldn’t be about you using the other party to gain yourself an advantage. Instead, it is an exercise of give and take which sees you investing in the other party in equal measure. What this does is create a true bond with a person, which may even go beyond a professional capacity. Over the years I have met amazing individuals who I connected with on a musical level, and a personal relationship has developed as we’ve grown together. Developing these strong bonds with said connections has created other opportunities, a result of trust that will have been built over time. New opportunities also come out of the other party genuinely wanting to see you succeed.
Connecting the dots
Having a solid network of individuals that you can tap into is one thing, but making the network function effectively is another proposition altogether. Having a clear picture of the various members in your network, and their respective capabilities, will allow you to get the best outcomes. One thing I often do when I meet new people is make a mental note of what they have in their arsenal that could be utilised in my own pursuits, be it in music or otherwise. I will usually have a clear idea of where a person fits in the greater scheme of things after the first 2 or 3 encounters. The next thing I make note of is how I can be of service to that person. This goes beyond what I myself can do for that individual, at times I have met people that could benefit from linking with other people within my network. This circles back to the idea of give and take that I highlighted early on. I can’t stress enough how important it is to add value where you can because it’s part of what makes any relationship meaningful. Once a strong network is in place, it becomes an exercise of calling on the right people at the right time.
No Man Stands Alone – An Important Truth
Like my beloved mother used to always say, no man is an island because indeed we need others to provide assistance regardless of the endeavour. As an independent musician, I have needed others to open doors that I didn’t know even existed. One thing for sure is that I wouldn’t be sitting here sharing yarns about my experience as an independent artist, if I hadn’t built myself a functional network. A piece of advice I always give younger artists is to put themselves out there. You don’t build a network by being the awkward guy hiding in a corner when in unfamiliar settings, and you most definitely don’t build vibes with people by leaving certain events early. A few times I have discouraged younger acts from leaving a gig soon after they get off stage, because there is value in working a crowd after being on stage, especially when you’re still new on the scene. I often remind them that you never know who’s in that crowd, and that alone should be enough to keep them around for a reasonable amount of time. This notion is true in different scenarios, not just the music business, so regardless who you are I encourage you to seriously review your networks and identify ways to improve your connections with people in those networks. Your success depends on it.