Networking, Relationships, and Adding Value

Posted on Posted in All Posts, Business

One of my favorite satirical twitter accounts is chock-full of wonderfully hilarious passive aggressive tweets about being a “humble” working musician.  Here are a few of my favorites…

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What I love about these tweets is that first off, they’re hilarious, and secondly, we’ve all been there.  We’ve all posted similar stuff ourselves at some point and called it “networking.”  I know I have.  But there’s a better way.  What networking really looks like is building meaningful relationships through adding value.

[callout]I’m going to show you 13 ways of adding value to those around you that will deepen relationships.  And at the end of this post, I’m going to give you a way to be reminded weekly with specific examples of ways to add value to those interact with online and off.[/callout]


My Sony Studios Missed Opportunity

I recently worked at Sony Studios in Culver City.  I was dead tired from staying up all night to get a big music copying job done and was hired to be the music librarian for the session in the morning.  Nearly passed out on the studio couch I remember thinking, “I need to post something.”  So I did.  Here’s the photo I posted on Instagram.

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Caption: “Excited to be working at Sony Studios today!”

I felt cool for about 3o seconds, got a few “likes,” and then felt kind of like a jerk.  I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with my caption or photo, but I specifically remember my sole reason for posting the photo was literally so my network of friends would see how “cool” I was working at this famous studio.

Basically bragging, if I’m honest.  Anyone else struggle with this?

I think about this issue lot because I do know it’s important to market yourself, and providing social proof is a big part of building credibility.  It provides context for who you are and what you do as a professional.  Where we go awry, though, is when self serving becomes our default position.

If we are always asking… “come to my show,” “buy my CD,” “look who I’m playing with,” “look at the cool studio I’m working at,” we’re in trouble.

So how do we reconcile the two?

Adding Value

The answer is to change our default position towards always seeking to add value to someone else.  To do this we need to give without expectation, and ask less often.

Giving builds relationships.  That’s what networking really is – building relationships.  I missed several great opportunities to deepen relationships that day at Sony.  What if instead my caption read something like:

Geoff Stradling is killin’ it at Sony today.  I’m getting a serious education.  Leading 50 musicians through 13 cues, on tight deadline is no joke…   So fun to watch an him run the show at this historic studio”

(Geoff was the orchestrator and conductor for the session.  He’s an amazing musician and a true joy to watch in the studio).

How much more valuable would it have been to brag on Geoff instead of myself?  Probably a lot.  Who knows, it may have led to an added layer of depth in our professional relationship that day.

I truly believe the number one mistake we’re making online and off is providing too little value to one another.  When we add value, we build relationships.  And those relationships give us the foundation to ask  – every once in a while –  for something.

Just as you’re able to freely ask your friend for a favor or advice because you’ve invested in the relationship, it works the same way in business.

I thought it would be helpful to brainstorm some practical ways to add value to your network both online and off.

13 Ways to Add Value

  1. Give genuine compliments to others publicly.  The next gig you play with someone, write on her FB wall about how great she sounded.  Someone did this for me recently and it totally made me feel like a million bucks.
  2. Tell us what you learned.  What did you learn while working on that last project.  Share it with us so we can learn too.
  3. Promote someone else’s show.  When your friend has a gig, share it with your network and tag 5 people who would genuinely be interested in going.  You friend will be grateful, and those you tagged will be too.
  4. Go to someone’s show.  When’s the last time you supported someone else’s show?  It means a lot when people show up.
  5. Entertain us.  Sometimes we just need a laugh, a funny story, a song, or a random cat vid.  Share it!
  6. Ask for advice.  This one might seem strange.  It’s a compliment when someone values your opinion enough to ask for it.
  7. Offer to help.  Got some free time?  Offer a free lesson, phone call, coffee meet-up, etc…
  8. Make an introduction.  Know two people who don’t know each other but should?  Introduce them!
  9. Teach us something.  A music lesson, a travel tip, a recipe, a song.
  10. Give something away.  So you just charted out 10 pop tunes for your latest top 40 gig.  You probably have a few friends who could use them too, right?
  11. Recommend something.  A cool restaurant, a great beer you found, a job opening.
  12. Invite someone.  And I don’t mean the “invite all friends” feature on FB events.  Pickup the phone or send a personal message.
  13. Thank someone.  Say thanks for on the project.  Say thanks for playing the event.  Whether it’s a paid situation or not, say thanks.  It goes a long way.

As I write this I anticipate some people might feel like this is gimmicky – giving just so you can receive down the road?  I get that.  I think that way too at times.  However, I think if we strive to give value upfront without expectation, it puts us in the right frame of mind to do this with sincerity.

To sum it up.  Relationships are built when we add value to one another.  Relationships give us the context and foundation to ask – every once in a while – for someone else’s time, attention, or money.

Kind of a touchy subject, right?  I definitely don’t have this all figured out and I’m continuing to work on this in my own life.

What are your thoughts?  Any additional ideas on how to add value?

[callout]I want to make this a habit in my life, so I’m putting together a weekly reminder to send to myself with specific examples and ways to add value to others.  Click here if you want to join me and be a part of it.[/callout]

Side note: A great resource to check out on this topic is Gary Vaynerchuck‘s book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

Also, visit Geoff Stradling’s site. He’s an amazing pianist, orchestrator, composer, and also leads a killer big band.  Also, follow Gigging-Dbag for more hilarious tweets about what NOT to do when trying to network. Ha!

2 thoughts on “Networking, Relationships, and Adding Value

  1. Hi Gary! Great post – I loved the before and after tweet comparison. It really highlights how much opportunity there is in these little moments. I signed up for the reminder emails – I know I’ve missed opportunities to add value in the past! : )

    1. Hey Daragh! Thanks! I know, right? I like the way you put it… little moments. It takes a little extra effort, but surely it’s worth it.

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