Zero To Hero, Part 11: Why Old School Networking Is A Killer Trick for Smart DJs

| Read time: 6 mins
Club/Festival DJing Pro Zero to Hero
Last updated 11 April, 2018

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So far we’ve covered a huge variety of techniques and tips to jumpstart your DJ/producer career and being getting noticed. In the first part of this series you built micro income streamscreated noteworthy content, and developed an overall look and feel for your brand. Next you powered up your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube profiles, and learned how to keep your fans happy, create an email list and put out a podcast using mixtapes.

Today we’re going to look at classic networking (ie talking and meeting people offline) and why it’s so damned useful. Don’t worry – you won’t be schmoozing or smoothtalking anyone like a corporate salesman. These are just simple tricks you can use to build relationships with DJs and influencers in your locale.

The reason you’ll want to network “in real life” is because it’s just so easy to send a Facebook message (or to “slide” into someone’s DM’s on Twitter) in order to send an event invite or to share your latest mix. Everyone does it! So one way to stand out is to engage with others the old-fashioned way – through face to face “in person” opportunities and by handing out something that exists outside of the digital space.

Standing out and being remembered are two of the main reasons to try the “old school” networking techniques below, and the good news is they’re easy and fun to do (you still remember going out for fun, don’t you? 😉 ).

Get involved at your local music haunt

Record stores used to be the DJs’ hangout in the old days of vinyl. There are less and less of them as the world continues to make the shift to digital, but the bigger music capitals of the world like London, Berlin and Paris still have them. If these stores are accessible to you, it’s a good idea to spend time in these shops even if you don’t buy any vinyl – they usually hold DJ shows (eg Phonica in London does this regularly) have meet-ups and do all sorts of other fun stuff that can only be had when you put a bunch of music lovers in one physical space together (usually with booze thrown in the mix).

If you don’t have access to a music store, there’s usually a spot that all DJs frequent whether that’s a club, a pub / dive bar, or even a store that sells DJ gear. Again, it’s a good idea to spend time here and to get to know that folk that frequent it because chances are these are the same people that will be working your circuit. As mentioned earlier, don’t do it because you’re expecting to get something out of it. Rather, go in with the intention of adding value to them whether that’s by helping out with promotions and marketing (I know lots of DJs who side hustle doing graphic design work) passing around leads for gigs in your community, and so on.

Meet with other DJs in your area

I learned that the best way to both get more gigs and to increase your reach in your town or city is to actively seek out other DJs in your area and to help them without expecting anything in return. It shows that you aren’t selfish or insecure about whatever resources and connections you may have. There’s nothing sadder than DJs in a scene pulling each other down instead of lifting each other up.

There’s more than enough bar and pub gigs, parties and festivals to go around – if you find that you aren’t getting any because all the DJs seem to be muscling to get a slot at the hottest spot in town, find another place that you can start a night at, or better yet create your own scene by championing a sound or genre that you love and build a following both online and in person. Later on, you’ll be the person other DJs will be looking to get in touch with in order to spin at your events.

Send physical copies of your mixes to bloggers and influencers

The traditional way to get your name out is to have someone write about you in a blog post or even in a local music magazine (preferably saying something positive). These days, you can get the same “press” by having a music blogger or even an online influencer make a post about you. Think of an Instagram post about you and your mix created by someone with a few thousand followers – that’s how today’s “grassroots” word of mouth influence starts.

Here’s a classic way to hand out your mixtape: put your latest mix in a physical format such as a CD or even cassette (depending on how hipster the receipient is) and send it out to music bloggers and influencers in your scene. It’s a cool and increasingly rare way to make a lasting impression on a music lover. Don’t forget to add a link to a digital version of the mixtape as well (whether on Mixcloud or your podcast page) just in case the writer doesn’t own a CD player / tape deck / is under the age of 21.

Show up and support other DJs

Don’t just go out because you’ve got a DJ set to play: go out and catch the other DJs in your area too! This is a great way to show your support (works even better when you bring a bunch of friends along) and it also lets you meet other people that are actively involved in your local dance scene, whether they’re clubbers and music lovers, or they work in the industry as promoters, managers and owners. Whoever they are and whatever they do, they all form at least a tiny or very weak connection in your overall network, and you’d be surprised at how some of these seemingly insignificant acquaintances lead to much bigger things in your DJ career.

Fun fact: I was referred to an anonymous job posting by a dude I had met once and chatted with for a few minutes at a DJ gig. That job poster turned out to be Digital DJ Tips, and here I am now writing this article, so yes this stuff works folks!

Finally…

Here’s the key takeaway in this networking article: Everyone is important. You never know who will be instrumental in moving the needle forward in your DJing, so treat everyone you meet that way that you’d like to be treated (or don’t treat them the way you wouldn’t want to be treated!). Hanging out and talking to people in real life adds a human dynamic that is simply lost in digital communication.

We are all connected, most especially in a small music scene, so don’t discount any acquaintance you make. What’s crucial to remember is to add value to the people that you meet first by giving before taking – never ask for anything at the getgo, lest you want to leave a bad impression.

Here are the other parts in this series:

What other old school networking tricks have you tried? Which ones have helped you the most in your career so far? Any things to avoid? Let us know below.

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