In the entertainment industry, having talent and skill is an amazing thing. Sadly though, the way the industry is set up you can’t rely on this alone. Networking is one major skill that has helped entertainers get to the next level. If you’re like me and an introvert, you may find networking to be the hardest thing to do. I myself am still learning how to effectively do it.
My biggest lesson for all of 2019 is that networking is needed to get anywhere in life. The industry is so small that who you know is really important! That being said, I’m not perfect at it at all, but one of my DJ friends (DJ Flip) is.
Throughout his career in Toronto, DJ Flip has had to network with a lot of folks in the industry from all walks of life. In addition to that, Flip is often approached by younger DJs looking to work his signature events. Most times their approach isn’t correct and it needs work. Together, we have come up with 7 networking tips that every DJ needs.
7. Make the initial contact (Introvert vs Extrovert approach)
Common mistakes DJs make in networking is usually the initial approach:
- “Put me on”
- “When are you gonna book me?”
- “Throw me on your next event”
- ”Is your lineup full?”
Even meaningless things like commenting a series of “fire emojis 🔥🔥🔥🔥” on random Instagram posts. This is not the ideal way to approach promoters/organizers for work.
If you don’t have an existing relationship, try these approaches:
- “I wanna come check out your event”
- “Send me the flyer so I can post it”
- “Let’s find a way to collaborate”
- “I just put out a new mix, can you listen to it and tell me what you think?”
6. Social media approach
Leave meaningful comments or genuine compliments on their posts or stories. Participate in polls. Promoters appreciate feedback. Therefore, this is the easiest way to get someone’s attention and will increase how likely they are to reply.
Be sure to find out the promoter’s preferred contact method. If their contact information is public, this usually means they are available to speak either via phone, text, e-mail, social media or in person.
For introverts, talking to someone who may not know you can be difficult. So it might be easier to reach out over DM, e-mail, or text. Don’t be afraid to reach out as long as you do it with class.
For extroverts, approaching industry professionals at networking events or parties will be easier as they are more outgoing and will thrive in these settings.
5. Build rapport by talking about common interests (music, sports, news, etc)
The best way to break the ice is to find common interests. Overtime, DJs will prefer to work with like-minded individuals. Do your research on the DJ or promoter you want to reach out to. This can be as simple as checking their stories, posts, or reading/listening to their interviews.
Do they have a favorite sports team?
Are they music junkies?
Is he/she a sneakerhead?
Were they at an event and/or carnival that you also attended?
Did they post something thoughtful that you also feel passionate about?
Once you find that shared interest, you have your foot in the door.
Most successful business relationships in our industry can be built over the most common bonds or unlikely shared interests.
Talk about the common interest and build your relationship from there. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT go in for the ask until you have nurtured that relationship first.
4. Determine how you can provide value
One of the main reasons why a promoter would choose to work with a certain DJ or entertainer is due to the value that said person provides. At the end of the day, the promoter or event organizer must pull a crowd and provide quality entertainment for their patrons. Spend time thinking about what you bring to the table and why they should hire you over the abundance of DJs looking for work.
Here is a list of things to consider your value when networking with industry professionals. This will be used mainly as self evaluation but it is highly possible that potential promoters/clients will hire you based on most of these factors:
- Am I promoting myself on social media?
- Do I have a solid fan base/contact list?
- What events have I played at?
- Have I thrown any events of my own?
- What is my DJ brand message/mission statement?
- Do I have promotional photos done and edited by a professional photographer?
3. Set up an in person meeting (Dinner, happy hour, lunch)
Remember, everyone’s time is incredibly valuable. So if there’s something you want to pitch, we recommend one on one meetings.
In online conversations, tones can often be miscommunicated via social media and sometimes meeting the person face to face helps provide perspective.
Set up a lunch, coffee or drinks meeting. It can be incredibly informal, we recommend paying of-course. Remain genuine and positive during the meeting.
If the organizer chooses to do business with you, congratulations on securing that booking! The onus is on him/her to deliver outstanding service and performance for that client. In other words, do your best! Share their flyers, help sell tickets, arrive early to help with set up, post videos of their event on your story etc. Organizers do take notice of these gestures. This will open doors for future bookings and will give you a platform to be heard by a new audience.
In some cases, your potential client may not get back to you right away. Event organizers and promoters are often busy and DJs should not harass them for an answer. DO NOT be that DJ who begs for work. It is unprofessional and in a very small industry, people will talk. On the other hand, said promoter may decide to not work with that DJ at this time but will keep them in mind for future consideration. Regardless of the outcome, be sure to leave a good impression.
2. Provide something tangible
Suppose you bounce up/meet a promoter at an event. They may not know you, but they can get to know you through your products. Ask them kindly to take a listen to your latest mix. Share a CD or USB drive with your mix. You may also keep business cards handy. If not, make sure your phone is charged so you can exchange contact information.
Now if you have a planned meeting, you should literally bring something to the table. For example, a folder/portfolio of printed flyers and mixtape artwork your laptop, phone, or tablet. I personally like it when DJs bring their laptops and they provide me with previews of their music library or show me upcoming projects they’re working on. This provides an opportunity for feedback exchange.
Other promotional merchandise that you have such as shirts, cups, or complimentary tickets to a future event you will be playing at/hosting.
Once provided something tangible. This usually will wrap up the meeting. You can go for the ask or find out what the promoter’s next steps are in this potential business opportunity. Don’t be too pushy.
1. Practice makes perfect.
Remember, if one door closes, another will open. Sometimes things don’t work out for a reason. Confidence takes time to build for everyone. DJs tend to get a little anxious when waiting for confirmation. Try to keep a level head regardless of how the meeting went.
It would be a good idea to keep a list of industry professionals that you have connected with. Build your contact list. Never know who you will do business with down the road.
Potential promoters/clients often seek credibility in those they work with. Continue to do research on your industry and study your analytics. This will enable you to keep up with current trends and will better qualify you as a credible source during networking discussions.
Sometimes, it often comes down to being in the right place at the right time. What you do with your nights off is just as important as what you do when you’re on the clock. Showing your face more (online and offline) will lead you to greater success in networking.
There are many opportunities available out there for DJs to make a name for themselves. Networking is a two way street. So when in doubt, here are some final steps to get into practice:
- Keep building your fanbase.
- Be active on social media.
- Follow relevant hashtags on Twitter/Instagram
- Connect and interact by adding value to relevant social media discussions
- Look for new parties & industry networking events on Eventbrite
- Attend your favorite DJ/promoters events
- Mingle with patrons/venue staff/event team.