Happy July, Everyone!
Nobody makes it all on their own in classical music, which is why networking is one of the most critical, yet under-practiced skills for musicians. With the music industry on “hold” due to COVID-19, now is one of the best times to reach out to all the artists you want to connect with.
Boston-based conductor Conor Whalen joins us this week on our new podcast episode, Networking for Musicians. Be sure to listen to the episode for even more networking tips and the opportunities effective networking can create.
In the episode, we answer some common networking questions like:
Who should I be networking with and how do I find them?
What is the best way to reach out? Is it ok to message someone over social media?
What do I send in a cold email?
Once I’ve reached out, how do I keep the contact?
Networking can be awkward and uncomfortable (um, hello social anxiety!! 👋), but it doesn’t have to be! We’re going to break the art of networking into 4 categories: The Who, The How, The What, and The Follow Up. Let’s get to it!
The “Who” of Networking
“Who should I be networking with and how do I find them?”
According to Conor, it’s best to think of the “who” in two categories:
People who are at the top in their field
People who have the job, resume, season, etc. you want in 5-10 years
People in category one are most likely the people you idolize in your field. It’s important to realize that a reply from someone in this category is less likely (or at least a few weeks/months away), but there is so much knowledge to gain from them.
The most important connections usually fall within category two. By reaching out to the people who are where you want to be in 5-10 years, you can gain a lot of great advice, stories, and information. If you send a well crafted email, people in this category are more likely to respond in a timely manner. The best way to find these people is to dedicate at least 1 hour every week to researching prominent artists in your field, as well as asking your friends for their connections.
The “How” of Networking
“Alright, I found some people I want to connect with. How do I reach out?”
Luckily we live in an era where artist websites and social media make it incredibly easy to find people’s contact information. When gathering contact information, here are some things to keep in mind:
Email should always be your first choice.
When composing your cold email, make sure you are not distracted. Typos aren’t cute, and it’s hard to come back from a unprofessional first impression.
Social Media should be used as a final measure.
If for some reason the only contact information you can find is the person’s social media, it is incredibly important to still craft your message as if it were an email.
Inquire for their email so that you can hopefully move further communication off social media.
The “What” of Networking
“Awesome, I found the person I want to connect with and have their email at the ready! Now… what exactly do I say in my cold email?”
In the episode, Conor's biggest takeaway when composing a cold email is to NOT include your resume/recordings. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it’s actually genius.
You may be thinking, “But the whole reason I’m reaching out is to get a job/ recommendation/ audition/ feedback, etc., how could I not send them my materials?”
Think about it this way. The person you’re about to email is exactly that. A person. The more you treat someone with respect and show genuine interest in their career, the more likely that person will A) respond to your cold email and B) ask to see your materials THEMSELVES.
Therefore, your cold email should contain the following:
Flattery: Once again, be genuine. Let the person know what you admire about their accomplishments/ career/ specialized interests.
Shared Interests/ Connections: Are you both alums from the same university? Do you have a mutual friend? Do you have any of the same interests? Let them know!
Request: To further conversation and warrant a response, ask for advice, information, stories, etc. in a respectful manner
The Follow Up
“I did it! Now what?”
After you connect with someone, it is so incredibly important that you continue to foster that relationship- otherwise what was it all for?
Conor suggests aiming to send an email to that person 2-3 times a year. It’s great to send a friendly email to see how they are doing and what they are working on, and tell them a bit about what you’re working on.
Now that you’re all set, here is a personal challenge to take on this week:
Spend 1 hour researching people in that 5-10 year category to reach out to
Send 3 cold emails
Reach out to 2 of your existing contacts you haven’t connected with in a while
We hope this was helpful! If you want to learn even more Networking Tips + Tricks, listen to our podcast episode here. A huge thank you to Conor Whalen for offering such great advice! Want to connect with Conor? You can follow him on Instagram here.
Michelle + Jessie