[Editors Note: This article was written by Suzanne Paulinski.]
Let me guess – you’re working on new music, but you keep hearing about the importance of having an engaged, growing fanbase and solid connections within in the industry in order to get ahead. But with a demanding day job and the time spent on that new music, your main thought is, “Who’s got the time for all of that networking and socializing?”
It’s understandable. Relationships take time and when time is something you’re constantly short on, how can any real connections be made? So you turn to the “get followers quick” schemes and pay for more followers/adds (and so on), with the hope of attracting industry connections alongside your growing numbers.
The thing is, that doesn’t work. It’s not sustainable and it’s not going to get you engagement and real relationships.
No matter how digital this business gets, real connections are always going to be your career’s best currency.
So how can you make connections that count when you feel like Father Time is not working in your favor?
Networking is a habit. Building that habit into your daily routine – for just 15 minutes a day – can really make a difference in your fanbase growth, as well as your industry relationships.
It’s all about batching tasks and staying focused on your ideal contacts.
Below is an example of how you can get the ball rolling during the week. With only 15 minutes each day of the week you can make progress and keep building this habit, so that down the road you’ll have a strong foundation for reaching out to new fans and potential industry collaborators with ease and confidence.
Monday: Spend 15 minutes determining the type of audience you want to connect with this week. Do you want to get more leads for potential clients? More email subscribers? More venue contacts to reach out to for booking shows? What about more playlist curators to pitch new music to?
Don’t try to focus on all of them at once. Spend 15 minutes getting clear on ONE type of audience and why you want to reach out to them – what result do you want to come from reaching out?
Tuesday: Spend 15 minutes determining where this audience hangs out. Are they on Twitter? LinkedIn? Instagram? Facebook Groups? Sit and think about it for a moment. If you’re looking to find more music supervisors, hit up IMDB. If you’re looking at playlist curators, think more along the lines of Spotify and YouTube.
You don’t have to start finding any yet. Just make a plan for how tomorrow’s 15 minutes will be spent. Don’t rush this. Use the full block of time to really think this through and do some initial research.
Wednesday: Once you have determined what platform you’ll focus your energy on, spend 15 minutes commenting/sharing/liking posts by the type of people you want to connect with (it may be best to set a timer, specifically for today’s task, as it can be easy to fall into a social media hole and lose time and focus). Use this time to leave thoughtful (i.e. relevant) comments that will spark engagement and likely follow-backs.
This falls under Gary Vee’s “$1.80 strategy” where you leave you 2¢ on the top 9 posts of your top 10 most relevant hashtags. Now 15 mins may not be enough time to leave comments/likes on 90 posts… but check out his explanation of his strategy and apply it to a few hashtags a week. Even if the 15 mins is spent engaging with one to three people the results from small progress are still worth it.
Thursday: Spend 15 minutes writing a (templated) message to use when reaching out to contacts directly. If you are looking for more fans or growing your network with industry leaders in general, the actions above are a great place to start engagement. However, if there are specific contacts you have come across in your research thus far and you have a specific request for them (i.e. asking a blogger to review your music, asking a tastemaker to add a song to their playlists, asking your super fans to share your latest YouTube video, etc.) then use this time to create a template you can use each time you reach out to people.
Keep it respectful and to the point. If you’re emailing, send links, NOT attachments.
Friday: Spend 15 minutes reaching out to those contacts! Fridays aren’t always the best days to reach out so you may want to use a service like Boomerang to schedule your emails/messages in advance and have them go out on a Monday. This list is just to illustrate what you can get done in 15 minutes.
When you have a template written and you’re clear on who you want to reach out to, choose three people each week to send your personalized template to. Could you send it out to more people? Sure. But if you only have 15 minutes, reaching out to three people a week is better than none. And, once you’ve done the research and you’ve written the template as outlined above, each following day you can use your 15 minutes to reach out to three more people. The important thing is to turn these tasks into habits that you work into your routine each and every day.
You could get to 15 people in a workweek if you wanted.
And don’t forget to schedule a follow-up a week from when you’ve first made contact. Some weeks will be “reaching out” heavy and others will be “follow-up” heavy. Following up is so important and so many don’t do it. Make sure you keep track of whom you’ve reached out to, their status, and when you’re following up.
So what do you want?
You may not have the opportunity to contact that hot producer you were hoping to slip your demo to – don’t worry about it. Worry about who you did connect with because there’s a very good chance they already know that producer or someone just as important for your career.
Get to know them. Ask them what it is you can do for them. Having them pass on your demo with a glowing recommendation of how awesome you are will go a lot farther than you trying to get a hold of someone who has zero time for you.
#StopTheSpam. Blasting each new follower with a DM that says “Thanks for following, check out my music” does NOT count as making connections. Doing so, while maybe it gained you a few views, did NOT help with your career. These cheap, shallow gestures will not get you far in the long run.
Try picking a new follower and striking up a conversation. Ask what it is they do. Check out their work, comment on it. Then, once you’ve established a connection, asking them to take time out of their day to listen to your music will not seem like an annoyance, but rather a genuine request.
If you put true passion behind what you’re doing people will notice. If you put true energy into caring about them and what they have going on, they will reciprocate. And it only takes a few minutes a day.
Suzanne Paulinksi is an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate.