The Problem with Networking

Have you ever tried to network with others in your field?  It's a tough thing to do even when you're at a networking event.  It takes bravery to just walk up to a stranger, say your name and deliver your 10 second elevator speech.  I've got to be honest, there's something about the whole situation that's nerve-wracking and feels a little bit like a poorly rehearsed play that's about to go bad any second. I mean you really never know what could happen. People say things like "It's about the people you know" and "You have to get out there and network."

But it's not that easy.

In my field it's important to network for gig-swapping purposes.  You see, there's a weird catch 22 in music.  Typically venues will only book you if you have a following (they call it "draw" in the field). Therein lies the issue: You have to perform live in order to get a following.   So if you're just starting out in your home town or you're trying to expand your brand in a new town you're out of luck.  So here's where the networking comes in.  If you network with other acts in your genre you can get onto their bill and they can get onto yours.  If you network with enough acts, you could possibly organize a whole year's worth of shows in different cities.

The trick is networking with the right individuals.  They have to be:

A)  in your genre who are

B) actively booking shows and

C) have a following in their area.

I have been doing this for years and still learning best practices in this area.  What gets me is that a lot of these people are underground.  Meaning, they have little to no web presence but they have a following in their own networking circles.  They don't respond to Facebook or Myspace messages for whatever reason.  So that makes it even more cumbersome.  If you or anyone you know is a singer/songwriter that has a pop, soulful, R&B, jazzy style please connect us.  You would be doing both of us a huge favor.

One of the things I've done to help resolve this issue is create a networking group in Charlotte, the Charlotte Singer/Songwriters and Poets Circle.  We have an official name, a logo, and even a website.  The goal of the group is to promote networking among ourselves locally and to eventually network with other groups regionally and nationally all the while hosting our own shows.  It's been getting a lot of traction lately so there is definitely a need for it.  We've already booked a couple shows so far and I'm excited to see what's in store for us down the line.

So can anyone help me think of ways to network with other acts outside of Charlotte???