MUSIC CONFERENCE NETWORKING TIPS
Following are some conference networking tips gathered from various sources online:
Don't let yourself get cynical about schmoozing. This IS what the conference is about and that's not a bad thing. It is quite common for newbies and beginners to feel left out because they don't know too many people. A common response to this feeling is to express disdain for how "it's all just a big reunion of people who don't care whether a nobody like me lives or dies." That's true. The secret, though, is to know that that IS all that it is and the only reason you feel that way is because you don't know too many people yet. Give yourself some time. Quickly slipping into the defensive wall-flower frame of mind is a sure recipe for prolonging the period in which you feel like you don't know anybody.
For maximum networking opportunities (in the lobby, at the hotel bar, in elevators, in hallways and rooms, etc) stay at the main conference hotel whenever possible. Lots of networking opportunities are squandered commuting to and from the conference hotel and from other hotels and friends or acquaintances’ residences.
Make a point of asking (in elevators, crossing the street between hotels, waiting in lobbies, air- port shuttles, etc.), if people are there to attend the conference. Often they are and it's fascinating to learn why they decided to come--it's likely that you have something in common and it's a face to smile at across the room during panel sessions.
Learn the art of the nametag glance to see what networking opportunities you might find.
Treat everyone the same and never make assumptions about the people you meet at a conference. Nowadays, you can never tell by appearances what somebody does for a living. Complete fraudsters are known to dress up, while people in positions of power have no problems dressing down for the sake of comfort.
If your nametag is on a lanyard, it'll almost certainly be too low for people to politely read it during the handshake. Shorten the lanyard or pin it close to your right shoulder. If you have a stick-on or pin-on name badge, it goes on your right shoulder, not your left, following the path people's eyes follow when they shake your hand.
You're going to be in lots of lines (for food, for coffee, for meetings, etc.) Take this as an advantage and network with your line buddies - don't just stand there.
It never hurts to have a paper towel in your pocket if you are a sweaty palm person.
Carry your drink in your left hand (unless you’re left-handed), so that your right hand doesn't get cold and clammy. This is important for handshakes.
Professional networking does not ALWAYS have to have a 'pure' business purpose. It's great to have professional friends and acquaintances that are outside of your normal 'box'.
Don't horde your business cards - they're not gold in your pocket - they're like smiles - they only have value when they're given away.
Don't be afraid to ask people to join you for lunch or a drink at the networking events - eating provides a great networking opportunity.
If you are not very confident try not to attach yourself (like glue) to the first person you get speaking to. Remember that the person you are talking to, while they might be enjoying your company, probably wants to be able to chat with other people as well.
Be positive - no one wants to be involved with a whiner. There are plenty of things to complain about regarding the music industry / business, but people remember your positive contributions and interactions in a better way than negative ones.
During the panel sessions, is there someone asking a question that you think you could help out? Go up and introduce yourself after the session.
Is there someone in the room you think you know from Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, etc., but haven't met face to face? If so, go up and introduce yourself.
Read people’s stuff. Many people are active bloggers, twitterers, authors, etc... If people create the written word, seek out their work and read it. It is a great way to get to know people by reading their stuff, but they will also be honored when you tell them that you read their blog or follow them on Twitter.
If you see a group of friends / acquaintances during a break or at a networking event / showcase, and there's someone in that group you haven't met yet, introduce yourself, or have a friend introduce you. This is another opportunity to meet someone with a new perspective with new ideas.
"Nice to meet you" is a dangerous phrase, especially if you often forget names or faces. "Nice to see you" is safer because you can use it for people you've just met and for people you've already met and should remember.
Don't be afraid to confess that you've forgotten people's names. Ask them again, and make a point of using that name. If you're on the receiving end of this–someone has forgotten your name, or they say "Nice to meet you" when you've met before–don't embarrass the other person by pointing out the error or putting them on the spot. If there's the least bit of hesitation about your name, introduce yourself again, and give a few keywords that may help jog people's memories. Good manners are about making other people feel at ease.
When you first meet a person, instead of paying too much attention to the small talk try to say their name in your head every few seconds. After a minute or so, try to use their name out loud by introducing them to someone else.
Ask questions of people you meet. Never lead with your "elevator pitch". People are more interested in themselves than they are in you, so ask them questions to help them get to talking.
When attending evening parties, get there early. That way a cluster of conversation builds up around you and you don't face the challenge of working your way into other clusters like you do if you arrive late.
Don’t cross your arms. Crossing your arms shows a body language that says “stay away!” This is very counterproductive, but I understand why people do it. I feel more comfortable when my arms are crossed, but if you want to network, you have to be approachable, and good body language can be key.
Always remember the first law of socializing: act like a host. This means taking the initiative and introducing yourself to others. It means keeping in mind the people you know and have met so that when you meet someone new, even if your interests are a million miles apart, you can always say "Have you met so and so? You should. I'll introduce you when I see you together." And then, when you do, they'll possibly be grateful for the intro, but definitely remember the service.
Offer a handshake. When you introduce yourself to someone, stick out your hand. Most likely you will get a handshake out of it, and that is a physical connection. People are more likely to remember you if you touch them. Be ready to slide out of the handshake if they don’t respond positively. Some people don’t feel comfortable touching strangers, especially if it goes against their cultural norms.
Instead of defaulting to the usual “what do you do?” question, consider using more engaging questions that take advantage of your shared context, like:
• What did you think about that session?
• What else are you looking forward to attending?
• What's the best thing you've learned at this conference so far?
• What other conferences do you go to?
• What kind of session do you wish they had here?
Ask open questions that require more than yes / no answers.
Be as socially generous as possible. It almost never "costs" anything to invite someone along, bring them into a conversation, introduce them to a colleague, connect them to someone of common interests, etc. and these things (a) are always remembered, and (b) go around and come around.
If possible, put your picture on your business card, or have personal cards that include your picture, tagline, and a few suggested things to talk to you about. Putting a list of talking points or topics on the front or back of your business card is a great conversation help, because it makes it easier for your conversation partner to learn more about potentially common interests. As for the picture – we've all had those moments of going through stacks of business cards and not remembering who they came from. Make it easy for people to remember you.
Many people won't have their own business cards, which is why you should have a notebook and a pen. Use notebooks that have pockets in the back for business cards. Notebooks are also very important because they give you a way to write down stuff about people you talk to, which makes it easy for you to remember why you have someone's business card. If you find out that someone has a problem you can address or needs to meet someone you can introduce them to, you have a good reason to follow up with them. Don't just collect business cards – that's like collecting friends on Facebook.
If practical, pack some blank business cards - Sometimes others forget their business cards or run out. Having this size card on hand will allow others to still share their information.
Everybody is pleased when others are interested in their work. Know this and us it.