Building business relationships and getting your name out there is key to developing a career in music. Many music industry conferences offer opportunities to connect face-to-face with delegates and panelists for just that reason. Getting in front of someone who could be important for your career is great but for it to have a real impact, you've got to make the most of what will probably be a very brief amount of time. "Speed meetings" are commonplace and you sometimes don't get more than a few minutes to make an impression.
Every year, we offer the local music community a rare opportunity to network with a cross section of tastemakers and experts from across Canada and beyond at January Music Meeting. In addition to panels and group sessions, JMM has a limited number of one-on-one meetings with many of the panelists. If you've booked a meeting, be sure to read through these tips before you show up.
1. Show up and don't be late
First impressions are important and being late or not showing for a business meeting isn't a great start. Life happens and delegates understand that. If you're going to be late or miss your meeting altogether, give a head's up. If you are late, there's a good chance you won't get your full timeslot, as these things are tightly scheduled. Keep in mind that this is a professional meeting and the delegates are busy humans (and potential team members). You might be taking a spot that someone else could've used... please be respectful.
2. Know why you want to attend and set your intentions
Why are you going? What’s the outcome you hope to achieve by attending? Be prepared with a clear idea about the role this person has in the music industry and what they can offer you in terms of knowledge, guidance, and contacts. Is this someone you might like to work with in the future? Or are you looking to network and see them more as a mentor?
3. Research the people you are meeting
Prepare ahead of time by researching what their company is all about, what their job title is, and the artists they work with. Additionally, search their name online to see what else comes up. You may find that they book a venue, used to work for a festival, or have some other cool, hidden talent that you can bond over. If you feel like you already know the person when you walk into the meeting, the less time you’ll waste, and the more natural it will feel to make a positive connection.
4. Focus on building relationships, not getting discovered
Meeting with someone for a short period of time will most likely not be enough to intrigue them to begin a working relationship with you, but if you draw them out by asking genuine questions and finding a common ground, you never know how that bond can help you in your future. When you can find even one thing to relate to the other person about, it builds rapport. Even if that person can’t work with you in the future, the music scene is small, they are connected and, if they know you and like you, they’ll be happy to connect you to others who can be part of your creative business team. Be genuine.
5. Listen and ask questions
Speed meetings are not only a chance to introduce yourself to an industry professional, but also to get to know more about their side of the business. Ask them questions about their role: What is the most challenging? What do they look for when it comes to working with an artist? If you represent yourself in the area they work in, ask how they’ve had success in an area you find difficult.
6. Know what you’ll say about yourself and your music
Although this shouldn’t be treated as a pitching session, they are likely going to ask what you’re all about. Be prepared to talk about your music in a brief, interesting, and descriptive way. Know what it is you represent, your target audience, your goals, your timeline, and who you’d like to add to your professional team.
7. Say thank you
Remember that these are busy professionals who are most likely volunteering a good chunk of their time to take an interest in your music and to share their knowledge. Be appreciative of the one-on-one time you have with them.
8. Follow-up and follow through
If the person you’re meeting asks for a link to your music – make sure you send it! Every day artists send industry professionals music that will never get heard but, now that you’ve made this personal connection, you might actually have a shot. If they don’t ask you for any music links, ask if you’d be able to have their email address in order to contact them with future questions or to seek their advice. Once you have this info, send them an email the following day with a simple, “thanks again for your time, I’ll be in touch,” and if you have a cool video or new track, you can include that with a, “I’ve attached a track for your listening pleasure.” Make it low-pressure and friendly but ensure that you have made yourself known and remain unforgettable.