This blog post by Peter Spellman originally appeared on his blog "Music Career Juice". Peter is the Director of Career Development at Berklee College of Music, and the author of several books about the music industry including "The Self-Promoting Musician" and "Indie Business Power".
Music is a who-you-know/who-knows-you kind of business. The quantity and quality of your relationships will be the primary engines of your career progress. This goes without saying in a business where “word of mouth” both amps notoriety and qualifies value.
Nothing feeds creativity more than linking up with other creative people. Sharing challenges, sparking ideas, discovering unusual connections and unique collaborations, keep us sharp and energized as we build our work and careers.
I like to call this process “netweaving” rather than “networking”. I didn’t invent the term but I think it is full of instruction.
Netweaving puts the emphasis on the creative aspect of relationship-building. Instead of “working” the relationship, you seek to develop patterns, connections and synergies. This certainly takes some work, granted, but there’s a slightly different focus to the overall aim.
Weaving is typically thought of as the interlacing of threads to create a formal pattern. Vertical warp and horizontal weft. That’s the common approach to weaving, though it may seem a bit linear for the dynamics inherent to way relationships grow.
Then there’s the approach of weavers like Sheila Hicks. Her weaves certainly show pattern, but they’re not your typical line, right angle, line. Her weaves are full of surprise and playful combinations, asymmetry and varied texture, complexity and the revelations of hidden form. They present a kind of visual rhythm to the eyes and an unexpected texture to the touch.
That’s the kind of weaving I think of when considering my own network of relationships. It’s a different way of looking at those you know. Within each are touch points of waiting potential; opportunities I may not have considered.
So what can you do today to weave your web of relationships? Here are some ideas you can try out:
1. Make a list and check it twice. Sometimes the links between people are clear; sometimes they aren’t. Try making as complete a list of your contacts and relationships as possible. Just the process of writing them down often reveals connections you may not have seen before.
2. Favors In Advance - Make helping people on your contact list a top priority. When you meet people, really get into their world and figure out what’s important to them. I teach a concept called “doing favors in advance.” There’s a reciprocity principle involved here. When you do favors for people, their natural response is to want to return a favor.
3. Think communication, not manipulation. Often people think networking is about being cute and clever, creating a lot of hype or sizzle, especially in the entertainment business. Worse, they fear it’s about being manipulative. Sizzle may attract attention, but it doesn’t build trust, respect, or value.
Instead of worrying about being cute and clever or manipulative, think about getting your message across. Shift your attention to what it is about that you do that’s important to those you’re communicating with. Think about how you can communicate your message to them in terms they’ll understand. Think about how you can help them see the benefits of what you offer.
4. Leverage Social Media – You’re on LinkedIn but how much do you actually use it to connect with other professionals? According to LinkedIn’s website, their mission is to, “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” There are so many tools available on LinkedIn that provide great value to its users. The trouble is that not all of them are intuitive.
If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend Neal Schaffer’s book for loads of ideas on maximizing your use of LinkedIn. For a shorter version here are some ideas you can try right now. Joining a group allows you to activate new connections. LinkedIn’s group feature allows you to search for groups by industry, interest-area or college alumni. In the case of alumni, you can reconnect with classmates and professors from your alma mater. There are many groups and professional associations that have networks as well. Answer a question in your field and get expert status within your network. If yours is selected as having the best answer this will get displayed in your profile. Interested in a new career? Find people already doing this work and connect with them through others. This is a great way to find people for informational interviews.
Spend one hour a week reviewing your LinkedIn or Facebook Connect contacts and watch your connections deepen and multiply. Think about a current project you’re working on. Who in your contact network might be a touch-point for project? You’ll be surprised just how fertile this netweaving can be.
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