Networking in Nashville
By Doak Turner
Research the people that will be at the event in advance – if it is a #1 party, find out who are the writers and research the writers and publishers to learn a little about them in advance Arrive on time for the event – to make the most of the networking.
Be positive – before going into the event – whatever happened earlier in the day – let It Go as you want to be positive and smiling at the event. We have all had our songs rejected, had a tough day for one reason or another, however this is the time to be a positive energy person at the event.
They usually serve beverages at the events – TIP – always get a napkin and wrap it around the beverages as the cups and glasses sweat. When you are shaking hands – you do not want the wet hands from the beverage to shake with do you? (smile).
When meeting someone – always ask about THEM. The Who What Where When questions to get them talking. Where are you from, How long have you been in town, What do you do in the business, etc.
If you are Shy – find someone that looks shy – go talk with them as they are probably like you, looking for someone to talk with, but perhaps do not know many people at the event and will be glad you reached out to them.
Business Cards – now that you have met someone, decide to exchange business cards – be prepared! I have MY business cards in my left pocket and everyone else’s cards go in my right pocket. That prevents the mix up, pulling out someone else’s card to give away. YOUR CARD should have – your name, phone number, e-mail. Website. Make sure –print is big enough to be easy to read! Have you business cards with you at all times!!
Creative places to Network – in Nashville, I recommend you have your mail delivered to the Acklen Avenue Post Office – over in Hillsboro Village, at the end of Music Row. 98% of the music business get their mail at that post office! You will meet people from all areas of the music business at the post office. Perhaps strike up conversations, sometimes go around the corner to a restaurant or coffee shop to the start of a business relationship and friendship from meeting them at the Acklen Avenue Post Office.
Banks – best to network – Regions Bank at the Roundabout Circle – Lisa Harless and her crew are great to work with and you run into music business professionals at the banks. If you bank at SunTrust Bank, they have a branch on 17th Avenue – use that one as you run into professionals in the music business at that branch. Avenue Bank has 4 locations in town, one is in the Cummins Station building and you can run into music business people at that location and the others. Meet with your banker in the music business and develop a relationship with them – they know everyone and can help you tremendously in Nashville!
Get invovled in the community – find something you like to do outside of the music business and get invovled – volunteer or find events in the music business such as benefits, visit writer rounds and meet other songwriters and like minded people to network and build relationships.
Create Events – invite songwriters and music people to your home for cookouts and play songs. If you live in an apartment or house is too small – perhaps find a community center or other location and host writer rounds at the locations. Hosting the events gets your name out in the community, you make new friends and providing a service to people in the music industry.
What not to do at Networking Events! Do not start a conversation telling that person everything about you! We have two ears and one mouth for a reason! Do not walk up to a hit songwriter, give them your CD and tell them you should co-write a song together!
DO NOT ask for Photos with the pros or autographs. – This makes you look like a fan instead of someone in the music business. Be a songwriter or whatever you do, not a fan!
When meeting hit songwriters – perhaps tell them you enjoyed their songs, if a couple were inspiring to you, mention that fact, thank them for writing the song, and that you will see them again around town. If they ask about you, tell them in about 12 seconds – you are a writer, perhaps new to town or visiting and love the music business and Nashville. Again, do not tie them up in conversation at an event or at a songwriters round.
Your Peers – build friendships and business relationships over time in the music business with your peers – those on your level and work with each other to improve your craft.
Have FUN on your journey! Learn every day!