Guest blog post written by Niki K.
We’ve all heard the phrase: “Networking is one of the most important things when trying to land an internship or job.” To all of the people who just rolled their eyes and are thinking, “Oh great. Another blog post about the importance of networking,” I’ve got news for you. I thought the same thing, but the other night, I was finally able to reap the benefits of networking.
Right now, I am in London studying abroad for the semester. Before coming, I set a goal for myself to try and not only meet new friends, but also meet potential business contacts, specifically in the music industry. Now, how does one go about doing this if, like me, you have no experience in the industry and don’t know anyone in the business, or in London? The answer is easy: you just have to find it! Start with social media. ‘Follow’ people record labels (if you want to work in music) on Twitter and ‘like’ pages on Facebook to better learn about the industry to try and reach out to industry executives.
Now back to this whole idea of networking…it’s as simple as Googling where the next networking event is that pertains to your desired field in the area where you currently are. Or, if you followed my first suggestion, you can find our via Twitter or Facebook. I started to follow a bunch of major record labels within the UK and Universal Music UK happened to tweet about an event they were doing with the Young Guns Network here in London that was all about A&R, which just so happens to be the area I would die to work in! So I started following the Young Guns Network and started investigating and applied to the networking event and got accepted! That meant that I was going to be in the Universal Music UK headquarters (for those of you who don’t know, they are probably the largest record label in the UK, as well as worldwide) meeting like minded individuals and getting to listen to two major A&R executives. Not a bad way to spend an evening, right?
The next step is to obviously prepare for the event, research who you will be meeting and to learn as much as possible about who is putting the event on, and the rest will come easy. I know people think networking is scary and it sometimes is, but you really just have to put yourself out there. I always get really nervous when I’m meeting new people, and in this situation, the event was for “young professionals in the music industry” which is clearly not me since I have no experience but I left all of that at the door and walked in with confidence and a goal to talk to 3 people. Being in a room of about 50 or 60 British people and being the only American was scary enough to begin with, and having zero experience in the industry was also intimidating but networking is all about learning. And that’s exactly what I did. I listened, was positive and even managed to get a few business cards!
If you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend looking for networking events where you also get to hear from successful people in that industry as well because hearing from Ben Scarr (A&R Manager at Island Record) and Jai Francois (A&R Manager at Warren/Chappell) was highly inspirational because I was able to hear about how they got their start in the business and what cool projects they are currently working on. And with events like this, you’re able to go and networking directly with the speakers and it was a night I will never forget because I was able to talk with both Ben and Jai and they gave me great advice on how to pursue my dreams. You don’t have to talk to everyone in the room and get a million business cards, you don’t have to even get 1 business card, but putting yourself out there and hearing about other people’s experiences is key in growing as an individual and shows initiative.
One last little piece of advice on networking is reach out to people you admire via email. Cold calls can be a little daunting (I personally hate doing them) but emails are much easier and can be just as rewarding. When doing research on Ben and Jai, I came across a very valuable list of the top 30 music people under 30 years old in the UK and I emailed every single one of them. 30 emails sent in one night, all personalized to each individual, asking for the same thing, a few minutes of their busy schedules to answer some questions I have about what it takes to be successful in this highly competitive industry. One person replied. And now I have a meeting set up with them in their office next week. If you get anything out of this blog post, just know that networking is, in my opinion, the most important part in growing your personal brand and can make or break you getting a job or internship. And because there are many different ways to network, there really is no excuse not to, so go do it! It can only help.