Our Enterprise Project Officer, Claire, talks about how effective networking impacted her music career and how networking can improve student employability.
Not to give away my age, but back when I first set myself up in business and launched my career in music 20 years ago, I didn’t realise that what I was doing was, in fact, networking. Now networking is all the rage and is perhaps more associated with communicating online. “Social Networking” certainly has its place, but in my day it was all about actually meeting people face to face and engaging with potential clients.
As a working musician and song writer, getting gigs and negotiating contracts was more about who you knew not what you knew. Yes, you needed the skills to be successful but connecting with the right people was arguably just as important; The right people, is really what is key. As the saying goes, it is quality not quantity. Attending every networking event advertised is not the best way to utilse your time and resources. You need to be in the right place and talking to like-minded people who will have a genuine interest in you and your business. For me, it meant attending showcases and mingling with the UK musician community. Of course in the time that followed I did take to the internet, mainly on Myspace. I always feel a little sad when I talk about Myspace. It seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet now but in my opinion it paved the way for social networks.
Thanks to Myspace and the time I dedicated to seeking out the right people, I was able to find musicians and producers to work with all over the world. That is the real beauty of the internet: there are no geographical limitations. Connections can be made and deals can be negotiated without leaving the office. Alongside utilising the internet to collaberate with people worldwide, my physical networking efforts paid off too. I met UK musicians, producers and radio presenters at various music events, and armed with my demo I was able to get on radio stations such as BBC radio. This lead me on to produce and present my own radio show which I still do with my business partner. This is the real power of networking, meeting people and selling yourself.
It is important to understand that not all meetings or conversations will amount to anything tangible with that particular individual. However, you never know where your business card will end up. It is also important to highlight that getting involved in networking events will improve your communication skills which in turn will be valuable for employability in general!
Claire’s top tips for networking
- If you can find out who will be in the room, do your homework!
- Have an elevator pitch rehearsed and ready to go
- Focus your efforts on the right people, remember it’s quality not quantity
- Have a call to action e.g. business cards
- Ask for names/business cards, you might not feel you could use them right now but you never know in the future
Enterprise and Start-up are running a workshop on Networking – sign up here!
Inspired? Get involved with Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-up!
Do you have entrepreneurial inspirations and aspirations? Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-up could help you realise your full potential in business and entrepreneurship. It’s all about thinking creatively, spotting opportunities, making things happen and developing skills for life. It’s not just about business; it’s about helping you to make the most of yourself.
We run workshops, competitions and sessions to help you develop skills and knowledge. Find out about all our courses and sessions on the intranet, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, with #ideastolife, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Claire Parry-Witchell, Enterprise Project Officer
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