2. Look Good
And I don’t mean physical appearance – I truly don’t think it makes too much of a difference what your physical appearance is when working in music. Some will disagree, but I truly don’t think it matters as much as most people think.
What I do mean by “look good” is presenting yourself well in every situation. That doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit and tie every time you meet a new musician or play a gig, but it does mean you should look as professional and, most importantly, well-put-together as possible in every situation where something good could come your way.
There is a very large difference in the perception of a musician who dresses sloppy and acts disinterested vs. a musician that appears well-put-together and who portrays sincere interest. I have worked with exceptionally talented musicians on both ends of the spectrum, and even if the former example has incredible technical and musical ability, I will almost always choose to work with the latter, even if he is not as skilled.
Because looking well-put-together shows that you care about the music at hand, and the profession you have chosen. Put simply, people want to work with musicians who care and are invested in a project.
You may have never even known it, but presenting yourself well can be one of your greatest and least expensive resources.
1. Never Try to Make “Network Contacts” – Aim to Cultivate Genuine Relationships
The widely read author Dale Carnegie said something of astounding significance in his classic, enduring 1930’s text How To Win Friends and Influence People. The quote is as follows:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
What he is saying is that when you develop significant relationships with other people, relationships that include you taking sincere interest in their work and livelihoods, you will rapidly develop many, many more friends than if you tried to just make “network contacts” and get people interested in you. With more friends by your side, the more resources for collaborating, performing, and boosting your success become available.
All too often, there are musicians who go to networking events for the purpose of promoting their own stuff to other audience attendees. Certainly, we all want to have a personal benefit from meeting new people and musicians.
However, the benefit you can receive is far, far more extraordinary when you have cultivated a real relationship with someone.
Sure, it’s nice to go to a networking event and meet someone well-known, have them visit your website and give you a compliment.
What’s far more effective, however, is working to create a genuine relationship with somebody. Out of genuine relationships is when true opportunity for you as a musician arises.
And if whoever you are speaking to is not interested in reciprocating your genuine attempt for friendship, it’s entirely their loss and a hugely calculated error on their part.
You have the greatest power they don’t have, as well the least expensive and most effective resource in the entire world, which is this:
When you aim not to make just another black book contact, but rather, an actual, genuine relationship with a musician, an audience member, an artist, or what have you, your chances for increasing your success rise dramatically since those people will naturally become interested in you as well.
MacGyver’s greatest resource wasn’t actually his clever ability to escape intense situations – his greatest resource was just his own self. Use your greatest resource on your ramen noodle budget appropriately to see an unreal boost in your own personal and musical success.