(By Bobby Owsinski, Enhanced By Johannes Ripken)
Admittedly, it’s been a while since I discovered the blog article “The 10 Rules of Personal Networking” by music industry master mind Bobby Owsinski. Since then I had planned to write a blog article about it as a supplement here in the tamanguu blog. Finally the time has come!
Bobby Owsinski describes in the article 10 important rules for business networking and relationship building, which is an excerpt from his book The Music Business Advice Book: 150 Immediately Useful Tips From The Pros.
An insight Bobby begins his article with is more important today than ever:
“Regardless of how much talent you may have, unless someone hears about what you’re doing you’ll end up creating in your bedroom your whole life.”
This is not surprising given the ever-increasing daily uploads to Spotify (currently 40,000 tracks per day) and the general democratisation of music production, distribution, promotion and consumption through digitisation and globalisation.
In this article, I will go into each of Bobby Owsinski’s 10 rules in more detail without going into the book’s details.
1. Go to places where you can meet players or people who can help
There are important trade fairs, conventions, conferences or business festivals for every industry and in every country — and of course also for the music industry. I myself recently attended c/o pop in Cologne as a speaker and last year at events such as Reeperbahn Festival, Sonic Visions, Most Wanted: Music, Live at Heart or the Future Music Camp, to name just a few in Germany and European countries. The great thing is: These events are designed for business networking, education and promotion.
Still, face-to-face meetings are the most effective way to get to know other people and to build or maintain relationships. The conferences bring them together in one place. It would be much more time-consuming and expensive to meet the people in their offices who come together for networking events and conferences. In addition, you can meet your contacts at the events in a relaxed atmosphere and build a much more personal relationship than at meetings in their offices.
2. Keep it casual and don’t come off as a stalker
Keep it casual! This is definitely advisable for networking. No one likes a tense, strained mood while networking and that’s not helpful if you want to build a relationship. With the right mindset and the right preparation, you will meet people at eye level, which definitely helps not to be put under unnecessary pressure, no matter who is in front of you.
I can’t completely agree with the tip of not being a stalker, but would even recommend it when preparing for a meeting, if you use the information obtained intelligently and subtly. What does that mean exactly?
It makes sense for business networking events to make appointments with interesting people in advance. Conferences usually offer delegates a list of visitors, sometimes even in a community/event app. There is no doubt that the speakers of lectures and panels will be communicated publicly.
If you have now arranged meetings with the desired people, it makes sense to get a more precise picture of the person and to find similarities in social media. If this requires an intensive search, one sometimes feels like a stalker here. The goal is to use the collected information intelligently. Surely it is not a good idea to come straight to the point and use details of the person offensively if they were not knowingly perceived by both. Here are a few examples:
- Contact posts something in the social media and you react to it: Here there is no doubt that it can be used directly in the personal conversation.
- In the depths of the Internet, you discover that your contact is a passionate volleyball player: If this information is not obviously recognisable in the usual social networks, it must be used with care. In order to build up a relationship, similarities are particularly important. So if you play volleyball with enthusiasm as well, it’s a good idea to talk about your own experiences with volleyball. The interviewer now has the chance to decide whether he or she wants to tie in with the topic. So you lead subtly to the topic without imposing it.
- You are connected to the contact via LinkedIn or XING and it is quite prominent that your contact studied at the same university: This is an excellent way to relive your memories and share this mutual experience. Since this information is directly visible in the profile, you don’t have to be afraid to use this knowledge. I myself studied at the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg, the University of Kiel and the University of Bolton in England. Especially for former students of the Popakademie, the mutual experience is a great anchor in building relationships, because the Popakademie is a very small university. At larger universities, the feeling of belonging may not be strong across faculties.
3. Be memorable
Business networking events are a meeting place for many people. In most cases, planned meetings are scheduled for 30 or 60 minutes. There are also spontaneous meetings, which usually run between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on how much time you have. A lot of new contacts can be made at multi-day conferences. It is therefore even more important that you stay memorable with the interesting contacts. For this it is essential to go to the meetings with the right networking mindset. We teach the Networking Mindset in our first units of the free, email-based Business Networking Master Class. People prefer to cooperate with people who like them.
4. Ask a lot of questions and 5. Keep it about them, not you
Asking questions has several advantages and only one disadvantage if you want to call it that.
Advantage 1: You learn a lot about contact, such as current challenges and needs, attitudes, working methods, connecting factors, similarities.
Advantage 2: You appreciate the contact by listening first. This creates a positive attitude towards you.
Advantage 3: You can learn from the experiences of your contact. If the contact has gained experience with challenges that still face you, you can solve them faster.
Advantage 4: You can adapt your language to your contact. If I have to explain our tamanguu application to a contact, I use different words or examples depending on whether I am talking to a music manager, business consultant, entrepreneur or self-employed person. Without knowing what challenges and needs my conversation partner has, my presentation becomes very generic and misses emotional connections.
Disadvantage: It can happen that you have little or no time to introduce yourself comprehensively or to address your topics. Don’t worry! There will be opportunities if you do not let the connection fall asleep and continuously build the relationship in small steps after this first meeting.
6. Have a business card ready, but only give it out when asked and 7. Ask for their card
Despite the digital networking possibilities, business cards are still very relevant for business networking. For many, it is a ritual at networking events that signals several statements:
- You’re interesting, let’s keep in touch.
- I trust you. After all, the card contains your personal contact information.
- The exchange of business cards helps both conversation partners to be remembered, especially if they have a special design.
- The business card has an advertising effect and conveys the quality of your own company if it is of high quality.
- But also: I have no more time. The conversation must come to an end.
However, the business card should not be distributed incoherently and inflationarily, because it then loses its effect and symbolic power. For example, it would be paradoxical to present the card as a welcome gift when no conversation has yet taken place.
8. Know what to ask for if the opportunity arises
This tip is a result of the preparation of the interview and the knowledge gained from the questions asked.
It should be clear in the preparation that the following points fit:
- You know what your current challenges and goals are.
- You know what your conversation partner has of knowledge and experience.
- There is a fit between the two upper points.
If you follow tips 4 and 5 in the conversation, the way should be paved for good insights in the conversation. The nice thing about questions is that you can use them to conduct the conversation. A question does not only specify the topic into which the conversation moves, but is also an invitation to the conversation partner to answer exactly to this topic.
In addition, you can verify information about the contact researched with questions and make it usable for the future.
So if my goal is to establish a personal relationship with a contact, then I try to identify similarities. It helps a lot if I know from the research what the contact has for interests and experiences.
9. Follow up, but don’t pitch and 10. Only pitch if they respond
It is absolutely necessary to send a follow-up via email after a business networking event. I usually meet a lot of people at such events. It is therefore very demanding to remember the details of all conversations. That’s why I take notes of previous conversations at business networking events in short breaks.
If in the days and weeks afterwards the memory disappears further, then not only the information is lost, but also the contact. After all, a Follow Up Mail is not only a good reminder, but also an appreciation and gratitude for the contact. To classify it hard but realistic: Without Follow Up the effort to meet the contacts at all was in vain. Wasted time for you and the contact!
The Follow Up should not contain a pitch of your own offer. That seems obtrusive, too advertising and uninterested for the contact. Exception: This is exactly what you discussed. Pitching only takes place when the contact responds and thus also shows interest in building up the business relationship.
I even go one step further than Tip 10. Before you pitch your offer, provide extra value to your new contact. Help your contact with his challenges, problems and needs! In this way you will build a relationship, gain trust from the contact, position yourself as an expert and experience greater openness and attention. This topic is also dealt with in detail in our free Business Networking Master Class.
Bobby Owsinski has established 10 excellent rules for business networking at and after networking events. I hope you were able to learn something from my additions.