One of the main reasons industry players attend SXSW is for the networking opportunities which it provides. After the dust settles and everyone goes back to their real lives, however, how does one maintain and build on the connection which they've made?
Guest post by Angela Mastrogiacomo of the TuneCore Blog
[Editors Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
Flash forward to a couple of weeks from now: you’ve made it through the brilliance and chaos of another SXSW, and you between all the showcases, panels, and parties, you managed to make a few strong connections that you’d like to hang onto.
So, how do you go about keeping in touch once you’ve parted ways and gone back to your real lives?
Send a follow-up email
Within a few days of heading back home, you want to be sure to send a follow-up email letting them know that it was great meeting them, and opening the door to future collaborations. Remember to reference something unique from your conversation so they remember who you are—people exchange a lot of business cards at SXSW, so, give their memory a bit of a jog by mentioning you’re the girl who had pink in her hair and loves dogs or the guy that told them about that great taco stand around the corner. Then, exchange niceties, keep the conversation flowing, and introduce the idea of working together. Building relationships, and continuing them, is all about setting a foundation of trust and common ground before asking for favors.
Utilize your connections
If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘The Tipping Point’ (which you should, along with ‘Outliers’), then you’re well familiar with the term ‘Connector’. If not, let me catch you up:
Gladwell argues there are three types of people: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. Salesmen are charismatic and tuned in to people’s emotions, Mavens are the people who always have the inside scoop on the latest thing—they’re full of knowledge and eager to share it (think trendsetters) and Connectors are the ones that bring people together. They not only know a lot of people, but they have the power to continually maintain those relationships, and connect others as needed.
For instance, they’re the people who if Friend A needs a publicist and Friend B is a publicist and happens to love Friend A’s style of music, they can connect them. Or if Friend A is visiting a new city and looking for people to meet with in town, they can connect them with Friends B-H because they know several people there, and they know exactly how they can help one another. Connectors are extremely valuable, because they seem to know everyone, and are always more than happy to make introductions.
If you can become a Connector, even on a much smaller scale, you will find that not only does your network begin to grow, but people begin to trust you more. There’s a certain amount of respect that comes with being able to connect people.
So as you’re going through your SXSW connections, think about if any of them should meet. Even if they don’t ask for the introduction, if you feel strongly the two can help each other, or will hit it off, set up an email intro.
Make a spreadsheet
Ok, so this one is a little nerdy, but it’s really effective! You’re going to meet a lot of people at SXSW, and at other conferences an d events as well, and one really fun way to keep track of everyone (and utilize your abilities as a connector) is to create a simple spreadsheet of your connections. Their name, what city they live in, what they do, and perhaps even their strengths and needs.
That way, not only will you be able to quickly find people in certain cities for the next time you visit, but you’ll be able to reference the sheet if you (or a fellow industry member) are looking for a specific skill. On the flip side, if you notice someone on your spreadsheet has a few needs that another can fill, make an intro happen!
Keep in touch via social media
At the end of the day, we tend to live on social media. It’s where we post the things that matter most to us, and that makes it the perfect place to bond with new connections. Email is a great way to start the conversation, and possibly even continue it when you’re talking strictly business, but when you want to get to know someone on a more personal level, and connect with them over the things that make them tick, following them on social media is one of the best methods.
By following the people you connected with at SXSW on Twitter and Instagram, it gives you the option to keep in touch in a casual way, while offering the opportunity to further strengthen your bond and common interests.
For instance, when they post that photo of their cat, now you have a chance to tell them how adorable it is, or if they post that they’re looking for a great Mexican restaurant in a new city, you can chime in with a suggestion. These may seem like small acts, but they’re exactly the kind of thing that begin to create a lasting impression, and build positive relationships. It truly is the little things that count when building relationships.
SXSW is all about seizing the day with incredible opportunities to connect and meet other like-minded people who are just as excited about the music scene and building their career as you are. So have fun at SXSW, but don’t forget that when it’s over, the networking isn’t done—it’s just beginning—and that’s pretty exciting!
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Substream, New Noise, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine.