Networking At SXSW

March 11, 2013

By, Wendy Day (www.IndustryReport.com)

It’s time once again for SXSW and it’s easy to get overwhelmed at such a large conference. If you are traveling to Austin, TX to attend SXSW, you are committing a substantial amount of dollars to do so. It’s a good investment in yourself and your career so it would be smart to make the best of it before, during, and after.

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Before You Leave Home

1) Print Business cards. Your card should be clean and easy to read. It should have your name, phone number, email address, website, and all of your social media addresses/links. The goal is that as you meet people, you have something to leave with them to contact you after SXSW is over. And hopefully the folks you meet have one to give you as well (I always jot notes on cards so after I have collected 300 of them, I kinda can recall who’s who). Because I do so many different things in the industry, my card has a paragraph on the back that explains everything I do.

2) Print out the schedule: the list of panels, round table discussions, and events that are ideal to boost your knowledge of the music industry. Be certain to highlight the events and people speaking who will benefit you the most. Make sure you attend the discussions that will strengthen you where your knowledge is weakest and offer direct solutions to build your career. For example, if you haven’t placed music in TV shows or films, but would like to, be sure to attend the panels on those topics. Not only will you boost your knowledge, but you will be in the same room with folks who do this for a living which gives you access to those who may be able to help you place your songs.

3) SXSW is very big and there’s a lot going on at once. Most people are going for the performances and showcases, so if there’s a performance you really want to see, get to that event early or arrange a hook up now to get you in ahead of the crowds. Everything fills up very quickly.

4) Try to get added to one of the showcases if you are an artist. The Summer or Fall is a good time to apply to SXSW for a performance slot since usually by Christmas the schedule is full.

5) Reach out to your network of friends and associates and see who else is going. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn are ideal for asking your circle who is attending. If there’s anyone that you should meet with, setting up appointments for lunch, dinner, or coffee would make sense to schedule ahead of time. Folks may be hesitant to commit because they know once they get to Austin they will be pulled in multiple directions. Breakfast meetings may be best because folks can start the day with your meeting provided they aren’t too hung over, and you won’t get lost in the myriad of things going on at SXSW. Be flexible with folks if they need to cancel or reschedule. It’s a huge event with way too much to accomplish.

During SXSW

1) Check the SXSW smart phone Apps frequently to know what’s going on and to stay abreast of changes. Check Twitter and Facebook often for posts from folks who have discovered great events that you should attend. Stalk the #SXSW hashtag frequently and be sure to check your own phone, texts, and email for updates. These are the places that will list impromptu performances by artists that you might care about. Bear in mind that moving around the city of Austin during SXSW can be very slow and cumbersome if you need to get from one club to another quickly during the day or at night. Traffic is a nightmare.

2) At the showcases and events, meet as many fans and industry people as you can. Gather their email addresses, names, and twitter @’s of potential fans; and gather names, email addresses and phone numbers of industry folks and other artists. Keep your lists separate. You don’t ever want to treat an industry person like a fan.

3) At the educational events, be sure to network with other attendees as well as the panelists. Get names, phone numbers, email addresses, and social media addresses whenever possible. Google company names and people so you know who they are and what they do. Divide the people you meet into multiple lists: the ones who could help your career, the ones who are like-minded and who you may want to collaborate with, the ones you aren’t sure what they do yet, potential fans, etc.

4) Try to relax as much as possible and be sure to eat small meals often. Make sure you stay hydrated, especially if you are drinking. Sleeping will probably be challenging, but get as much rest as you can.

5) I can’t stress enough the importance of meeting people. This is a “who you know” business. Try to speak to everyone if you can. Find out what they do and exchange information. Make it a personal challenge for you to talk to everyone in each room or club that you enter. I realize that’s not possible, but try. Even speak to folks you meet in your hotel. This is the one time of year where everyone in Austin is attached somehow to the music industry. Be polite and outgoing. If you realize someone has no value for your career, don’t just drop the conversation coldly and walk away, be polite and kind and then move on. Don’t ever be an asshole.

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After You Get Home

1) Sleep. You missed a whole lot of sleep, get caught up.

2) Reach out to the folks you met that can help your career within the first 2 weeks of being home. Thank them for their time and tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them. If you shared a special moment, mention it so they may recall who you are.

3) Don’t ever assume people will remember you. In the weeks after a major event, I always change my avatar on my social media to my face, hoping people might remember me when they see my face. I also make sure the signature on my email explains succinctly who I am and what I do in a few sentences, along with my social media links. If folks can just press a link to arrive at my Facebook page or twitter, they might just click it.

4) Reach out to the folks that you met but have no idea what they do. Of course you’ve already googled them at this point, but if you still don’t know, politely ask them. I find it better to ask intelligently–meaning it’s better to ask “I see you work in publishing, what exactly is it that you do?” than to ask a general “what do you do?” It shows that you made some effort on your own to figure out what they do.

5) Lastly, put all of your new potential fans into your fan database. You should be sending out an e-newsletter soon anyway to inform your fans of your trip to SXSW and to discuss the highlights. If your email list has a feature where folks need to opt-in, add them to your list within the first 2 weeks after SXSW so you stand a chance of them remembering you and opting in. Don’t ask them to join your list more than 2 or 3 times, a week or two apart.

6) Networking is the art of give and take. Don’t just figure out a way for the people you met to help you, figure out a way to help them as well. People will be more open to developing a relationship with you if they see a benefit to themselves as well. You being a talented artist is not enough of a benefit, by the way.

7) Make sure you keep in touch with the people you’ve met and if you’ve promised any specific follow up, be certain to do so. Most people do not keep in touch, so the few who do follow up really stand out. When interacting with folks who have established careers in the industry, don’t be surprised if you have to do the bulk of reaching out at first. You need them far more than they need you. Until you have something solid or financial to offer, you are just one of many anxious and hungry folks trying to build a career in music. Be respectful of that. Don’t take anything personal.

Attending an event like SXSW can be very informative and a great networking opportunity for your career. Make sure you spend your time wisely, prepare for it thoroughly, and follow up professionally afterwards. It might just be the best money you spent this year.

Wendy Day is a 21-year veteran of the music industry who has managed to do the impossible: stay relevant. She runs the not-for-profit artist advocacy organization, Rap Coalition, and has helped discover, build the leverage of, and shop and negotiate deals for Master P’s No Limit, Twista, Cash Money Records (BG, Juvenile, Lil Wayne, Turk, Hot Boyz, Big Tymers, and Mannie Fresh), Eminem, David Banner, and many others. She has worked with Do Or Die, Lil Boosie, Webbie, Ras Kass, Slick Rick, BloodRaw, Young Buck, C-Murder, Young Jeezy, MGK, and others. She helps build independent record labels for properly financed labels showing them hands-on how to sell music and make money in today’s music industry. She wrote her first book, The Knowledge To Succeed: How To Get A Record Deal in September of 2011, and runs a social media marketing company called A Scratchy Throat to boost artists’ Internet presence and to increase their one-on-one interaction with fans.

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If you’re an artist  waiting to be “discovered” or hoping to be given a record deal based on your perceived talent or the “uniqueness” of your sound, it’s time to educate yourself on the basics of the music business. The belief that major labels are LOOKING to sign new artists because of their talent is very far from the truth, and the sooner a person who desires to be an entertainer learns this, the better.

The process of getting “on” doesn’t require a co-sign or “hook-up” from an established artist or record label executive. You get on by building relationships with people who like your music, support it by buying it, and actually listen to it – these people are called FANS. When you get enough fans talking about you and your music, you’ve created a buzz. how to succeed

If you’re able to create a buzz around your music you’ll first attract the scammers, douchebags and con-men. These bottom feeders are the people who want to “sign” you to a “development” deal, or in other words, they want to pay for your studio time in exchange for owning half (or more) of what you create. If you’ve educated yourself on how the business of music works you’ll be very wary of these types of offers. Today’s artists have NO EXCUSE for getting shafted.

All aspiring artists coming up in this “internet age” have heard of or read about the ways that artists have gotten used, abused, and swindled in the past. From the earliest days of recorded music all the way up to the latest headlines, the music industry has been a place where you lose everything if you don’t know the business. Too many of our favorite rappers who were once superstars are living day to day or paycheck to paycheck because they made the hit music while someone untrustworthy handled the business. You’ve seen it happen enough to KNOW that you need to learn how the business works in order to protect yourself.

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Now, more than ever, whether you’re a musician, singer, rapper, producer or other kind of recording artist, you can earn a living doing what you love. Don’t let the desire to be “popular” override the necessity of getting paid. If you’re doing music for fun or “for the love” then these words aren’t for you. I’m speaking to those people who aspire to be professionals in the music industry, the people who expect to be properly compensated for their hard work and talent. Believe me, if you’re making music only “for the love”, there is no shortage of people in this industry who will make sure that you get ALL the “love” (i.e. attention) you desire…..as they walk away with the money.

Tony Guidry is Senior Marketing Manager for A ScratchyThroatA Scratchy Throat – the brainchild of industry mainstay Wendy Day – provides professional social media marketing specifically designed for today’s aspiring artists.

The Brand YOU: Your Bio

by: Brian Kush, reposted from: http://ow.ly/hBbbU

Personal branding is about promoting what makes you unique and what allows you to stand out from the crowd. A major piece of branding is creating your professional “bio” or biography. That bio is, after all, a specific place to capture your “story” …. so it is personal.

For many CPAs, your bio is likely already on the web and accessible by anyone and anywhere. Since it is so accessible, it presents a nice branding opportunity – to spread your message about the value you provide and the opportunities you want to attract.

When reviewing your bio, consider three Cs of personal branding – Compelling, Consistent and Clear:

Make your bio COMPELLING and answer the following questions:

WHOM do you specifically help? What kinds of people? What types of businesses?
WHAT challenges do you help them solve?
HOW do you help them? What is it you uniquely “bring to the table” to help them solve their challenges?
WHAT do your specific skills allow them to do? What is the benefit to them? Do you save them time, money orpain, or bring them joy or success?
HOW have you acquired these skills? Why are you credible? This is the his“story” part of your bio where you can provide your experience and relevant accomplishments.

Make your bio CONSISTENT.
If someone visits your organization’s website and reads your bio and then finds you on a social network with a profile that describes a completely different person, you have created brand confusion!

Tip: create one master biography and use it to create your shorter bio and all your profiles instead of doing it the other way around. Google yourself and compare your profiles and bios. Do they send an overall consistent message about what you want to be known for and what distinguishes you from everyone else?

Make your bio CLEAR.
Harry Beckwith, the author of You Inc., The Art of Selling Yourself, says, “What convinces people that you excel? Your clearest evidence is just that: clearness.” Be direct. Get to the point. If you cannot articulate your expertise in a concise and clear manner, then how can you be an expert in your field? Attention spans are dwindling. Even your “long bio” should not be much more than half a page.

Additional Tips

Keep it fresh: update your bio as often as it needs to be so that your message is current. A stale bio sends a message about your brand.

Consider a call to action: decide what you want the readers of your bio to do. Is it just to view you as credible or would you like them to take action? If you want them to follow you, such as via a blog or Twitter, ensure that information is in your bio.

Test it for authenticity: what is the most important thing about any item you use to promote your brand? It needs to be authentic. You need to feel it. You need to own it. Read your draft bio out loud to an audience. If it comes from your heart, if it is truly “on-brand,” then your audience will know that when you read it. And you will know it too.

Brian Kush, CPA, CLC, President, Moxie Partners. Brian is an ICF certified coach, and specializes in leadership, executive presence, and personal branding coaching. He works with executives, entrepreneurs, and aspiring professionals in a personal coaching relationship to challenge them to show up as the biggest version of who they already are, and get the new results THEY want.

How to Be the Real You in Your Blog Writing

In September, I spent a week in Germany. I look German and even lived in the country as a child, but I speak the language only well enough to be dangerous. I can order a glass of wine, but then the charade ends.

My elderly aunt isn’t fooled. She has trouble understanding my ungrammatical babble.

“Was sprichst du?” (What do you speak?) she asks. “Hoch Deutsch (high German) oder Platt Deutsch (Low German)?” “Schlecht Deutsch (Bad German),” I reply. I speak well enough to get by, but not well enough to really say anything.

And that was the problem. After three days in Germany, I had no beliefs, no opinions, no personality. As a blog writer, I missed being able to express myself.

Having a platform that lets you communicate your personal brand is a rare gift. So go for it when you write your blog: Tell us what you think.

Say it in plain English. And celebrate who you are.

Get your personality across

Do this even if it’s abrasive. Especially if it’s abrasive.

If you’re writing authentically, your audience should know immediately that you authored a piece. My own style has been described as warm, witty, quirky. Whether you agree with that or not, you should be able to tell a piece is by me by the way I use words, by the positions I take, by the refusal to be serious for more than a few lines.

If your blog doesn’t sound like you, it’s time to rewrite until it’s genuine.

Take an outlandish position

Your blog gives you a chance to make a stand—so don’t wallow in the middle ground. Choose a position and defend it. I read a marketing blog post recently about Features and Benefits. For once, it did not say that every feature should also have a benefit. Quite the contrary. After hearing same old same old for years of copywriting, it was compelling to see a post that tore it all up.

Be that person—the one who opens eyes wide.

Don’t mince words

At dinner recently, a friend mentioned that his former wife had been in a car accident. Was it bad? our hostess asked. Not bad enough, he replied. OK, that’s cold, but we’re pretty clear how he feels about his ex-wife. So if you need to mince something, make it onions. Say it like you mean it. Forget the qualifiers and euphemisms.

If every word is a cloak for some more dastardly term, then you’re writing in another language.

Provoke disagreement

If you have a flock that follows you and it isn’t completely comprised of sheep, then engage them enough to disagree with you. Loudly, if necessary. I wrote a post once suggesting people use Readability Indices to make their posts more accessible to their audiences. One commenter said he’s tired of dumbing down his writing—and if his audience doesn’t understand it, he doesn’t want to talk to them anyway.

Bully for him.

Get rid of people

Go all the way—provoke disagreement to the point that readers unsubscribe from your blog. No one’s unsubscribing? You’re not trying hard enough. Sure, they’ll be there as long as you’re so bland they hardly notice you. Or don’t bother to read your blog. But when you unmask, they may recoil. Good.

Distance yourself from the people who simply tolerate you.

Keep the people who love you

In some ways, business relationships work the same way as personal ones. You want to keep the people close who love you no matter what. I have three friends who would stick with me even if I become an axe murderer—although one admits she’d be disappointed.

Ultimately you want blog followers so avid that they love you even when you quarrel and want to work things out. Those people will advocate for you like the blasé folks never will.

And that, my friend, is the start of a beautiful relationship.

Guest author: Diana Kightlinger is a professional print and digital copywriter and content writer for high-achieving businesses, from solo entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. For more helpful info, like Eclipse Communications on Facebook and follow her on Eclipsewriter Blog….