3 Tips to Network Effectively with Another Creative
Back in October, I ran across an Instagram post by GRAMMY-nominated rapper Rapsody that encouraged her followers to send her their numbers so that she can call them. The post was from two hours before I saw it, but I decided to send her my number anyway. After sending her my number, I thought about all of the things I would talk about with her if she called. But then I thought that she might not call because things like that never happen to me. So, I deleted those ideas from my mind, but was still on pins and needles about the chance of talking to her.
Ten minutes later, my phone rings. It was from an unidentifiable number. Usually I don’t answer calls from any numbers that I don’t recognize, but then I went into complete fan mode and mentally said “OMG! That might be Rapsody!” Before I may have missed out on the opportunity of what seems like a lifetime to me, I answered the phone.
“Hello?,” I said.
“Hi, Amirah!” came from the familiar voice on the other end of the line.
One of my favorite artists at the moment called me.
We were only on the phone for two minutes, but it felt like forever. That’s not because Rapsody wasn’t cool — because she was and still is. It was because I forgot the plan of action that I had after sending her my number, thinking that I wouldn’t have to use it. I couldn’t say much other than “thank you” to her. It was bad to me.
That conversation encouraged me to share some tips on connecting with your favorites in an attempt to share your art/work as a creative (or one that works with them). Hopefully you don’t make the same mistake I made as you encounter your favorites and network with them.
Have a game plan and stick to it.
If you know you're going to be in the same place as your favorite artist or have the opportunity to speak to them, make sure you know the gist of what you'd like to say (similar to an elevator pitch) and/or what to bring with you to promote yourself. That may either be a business card with your social media links, some creative merchandise, or something that is memorable. (According to Robert Glasper, a CD might not be a good look. Find out why here. Use your own discretion.)
Find the balance between confidence and humility.
Being humble is cool, but being too humble where you’re scared to share what you do and what you’re working on is the worst. Closed mouths don’t get fed. Yet, being overly confident doesn’t work with or for everybody. There are only a few people that can pull off being overly confident, and even those folks are humble around their favorites. (Yes, that includes Kanye West.) So, find the balance between the two. Don’t be afraid to approach that artist and say hi and share what you do, but do it in a personable way. You don’t have to inflate your abilities in order to build. If you seem cool, they'll listen...and with that, let the work speak for you.
Make it short and sweet.
One of the worst things you can do is have a long drawn out conversation with someone you're building with, especially for the first time. Baltimore-based producer eu-IV attended a Flying Lotus show at Echostage in D.C. and got the opportunity to meet him when FlyLo came offstage after the show. eu-IV gave FlyLo his cassette tape of his recent project, Supernova, told him that he inspired it, and walked away. "Being a artist myself, I see how interactions can get very weird. My plan was to keep it short and pass along my art,” said eu-IV. I agree with this: with my conversation with Rapsody, it started to feel long and slightly uncomfortable, so I ended it short. To save you and the artist time and awkward moments, keep it short and simple.
*Bonus tip: Stay in touch after you talk to them. You never know what opportunities can come from just checking in on a person.
If you have any more tips and/or stories to share about meeting and building with your favorite creatives, feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me at @amirahrashidah.