It seems that a lot of upcoming musicians look at networking backwards. Everyone, understandably, wants to broaden their network and move closer to reaching their goals. But networking does not mean handing someone your business card, or sending an email to a major music executive and praying for a response.
Here are two keys to networking that I think about often:
1. VALUE MUST BE EXCHANGED
Real networking occurs when both parties gain value from the interaction. If you have nothing to offer the other person, the chances of them helping you drops greatly. What you have to offer does not need to be a contact. A lot of the time, simply having enough insight on the industry to have a thoughtful conversation is enough. Some sort of value must be exchanged.
2. REACH OUT, NOT UP
The people who are emailing major executives or famous musicians in hopes of a response are missing the point. The people who surround you now are the ones who will be running the industry with you in the future. Build strong relationships with those closest to you, and help as many people as you can as you move forward. Reach out, not up.