In business, people make people successful. Your net-worth is proportionate to the size of your network.
If you’re seeking more work, networking is an essential component of any freelance industry. We often throw around the word networking to mean the awkward process of meeting strangers at conferences or shaking hands at events, but at the core, networking is about establishing relationships with clients that last a lifetime. Maintaining lifetime, repeat clients is a result of bringing value to your target audience. If you can narrow down your target audience to a small, niche audience, they will gladly pay for your solution to their problem; your solution has greater value to them than their money. After all, they’re going to spend that money on something else if not on you.
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How to Network
Networking should always start from your local area and branch outwards. Most composers confuse this order by starting at the macro level – contacting big corporations, big game developers, and big film directors, but this is the fastest route to discouragement and rejection. When you start networking with your local area, you bypass competition. By interacting directly with people within your first-degree and second-degree network (personal friends or friends of friends), you will land jobs significantly faster, especially in our digital age where face-to-face interactions have deep impressions. Living locally to new contacts makes it easy and convenient to share a meal, invite each other to events, and quickly chat about jobs as they arise. Local networking opportunities range wildly, from city events, creator meet-ups, game jams, and everything in-between. Many film and video game organizations already have regular meetings, including Grammy Pro, Game Audio Network Guild (GANG), and International Game Developers Association (IGDA). If there are no relevant organizations in your area, consider starting your own chapter or using social media to launch a meet-up at your local coffee shop, library, or park. Kickstart your career by being the big fish in your local small pond.
Once you’ve begun to exhaust your local area, invest time and energy in regional events. These include conferences, university master classes, one-day workshops, etc. – all great opportunities to spend time directly with your target audience. If you’re a video game composer, look for game developer conferences. If you’re a film composer, look for filmmaker workshops.
On a global level, the internet provides an incredible means for communicating with audiences around the world. There are countless communities and platforms to invest your time and energy into. Due to this overwhelming amount of opportunity, composers are often paralyzed when deciding where to invest their time and energy. To help narrow it down, I suggest focusing on which platforms provide the greatest amount of attention for your effort. Twitter and Tumblr, for example, are not what they once were. While both platforms still exist, neither yields any worthwhile attention compared to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube – the holy trinity of social media that dominates the internet. According to social media marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuck, if your brand is not on one of these three platforms, you are irrelevant. The internet provides so many opportunities for music composition jobs, but your success landing jobs is fully determined by how you position yourself to receive work.
My Networking Journey
My first few custom scoring opportunities were all from local relationships in Atlanta, Georgia. Future gigs resulted from online relationships built over time through establishing authority on social media. Most of my career has been built on only a handful of repeat clients. I find it curious that my highest paid and most frequent work is now also local in Atlanta. I contribute this to the personal relationships I’ve built over time – my work quality has increased, as has theirs, and we have a thriving symbiotic business relationship. My clients earn more revenue with each new project and they’re happy to increase my rates every time. Repeat clients are fun to work with, easy to communicate with, and are the backbone of any successful career.
How effective are my networking habits currently?
What is one action I can take today to improve my networking skills?
How can I retain repeat work from previous clients?