How I networked my way to #1 in multiple Amazon categories

Back in October 2016, my book Break Into The Scene launched on Amazon and, to my surprise, it slowly rose through the ranks and eventually landed the #1 spot in multiple Amazon categories.

This was a huge deal for me at the time because I had a ton of things working against me.

I had no experience launching books, no publisher to help with access to distribution, and no budget to fund the launch.

Yet despite having no real experience, no team, and no money, I still managed to beat out a New York Times bestseller called Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency for the top spot in several Amazon categories.

How did I do it?

Well, for the entire six months leading up to the launch I focused almost all of my marketing energy on one thing: networking.

Yeah, yeah, I know.

That sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

A book from an unknown guy on his couch in South Philly whose only claims to fame are a tiny blog and a french horn performance degree managed to launch a book to #1 in multiple Amazon categories by focusing on networking.

You see, I knew that I would never be able to compete with books that had entire publishers behind their success if I tried to take the traditional route, so I decided that I was going throw all of my energy into connecting with like-minded people in the classical music world.

Who were these people?

They made up a small group of classical musicians that run blogs and podcasts that are followed by tens of thousands of other musicians.

But there was one problem.

I didn’t really know most of them.

As someone who runs a small blog, these were my peers in many ways, but I had never actually had the chance to meet them.

So when I knew I was launching my book, they were the folks that I wanted to meet.

They, like me, were building their platforms so I wanted to learn from and share ideas with them.

In this article, I’m going to share exactly how I went from knowing almost nobody to landing over 20 podcast interviews and guest posting opportunities while making a ton of new friends along the way.

The lessons below can help any musician grow their network in an authentic way.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a student trying to land your first few gigs or a seasoned pro that is trying to improve the quality of their gigs.

Anyone can grow their network and I’m going to show you how.

First, Prioritize Networking

Networking is, without question, one of the most valuable skills for any musician that is serious about a career in music.

When we’re talking about prioritizing networking, this doesn’t mean that you have to take time away from practicing, performing, or teaching and just focus on things like networking.

The reality is, most musicians don’t like the idea of networking.

I get it.

But here’s the thing that nobody ever talks about: the vast majority of gigs you’ll do in your life will in some way, shape, or form come someone you know.

Period.

Just one connection with the right person is all it takes to land an amazing opportunity that sets off a chain reaction of new connections for the rest of your career.

You just have to make a commitment to yourself that you’re going to take networking seriously.

Maybe it’s 15 minutes each day, 1 hour every Sunday afternoon, or something else.

The important thing is that you set aside time and stick to it.

Do Something Interesting and People Will Want to Meet You

 

This is one of the biggest opportunities that almost no musician takes advantage of.

If you are doing something interesting, people will be much more interested in meeting you.

For me, I focused on building up my own audience and email list through my blog.

One thing I quickly noticed is that there are tons of people out there with blogs or podcasts that do not actively build their email lists.

That simply means that they might have a ton of followers or fans that they do not have a direct line of communication with.

That makes it very difficult to build a consistent audience when you can’t directly reach your fans.

I always knew that this would be massively important so I put a ton of energy into creating great content and inviting readers to join my email list.

As my list slowly grew, I would always share with people that I was reaching out to, what I was doing that was working to build my following.

As a result of sharing what I was learning, a bunch of people were interested in exchanging ideas about what was working and what wasn’t.

Finding common ground and interests is a massively useful tool when it comes to meeting new people.

So what does this mean for you?

Well, if you want to be more interesting to other people, you need to find a way to connect with them in a unique way.

How you approach this will depend on you and your interests, but here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Host a chamber music party and invite potential new connections over to join in the fun. A bottle of wine, a couple of pizzas, and some chamber music could make for a hell of a fun night. 
  • Start a concert series through a local church and invite people to come perform. I did this years ago with one of my friends and one of the musicians we had come play now regularly tours with Ben Folds and Paul Simon. In fact, he was just on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago. Will this happen to you? Maybe, maybe not. But you’ll have a lot better chance if you’re out there actively meeting people! 
  • Create your own blog/podcast and invite people you admire on for an interview. I did this many times in the months leading up to my book launch and I learned A TON from the people that I got to meet.

There are a million ways that you could go about this, but the most important thing here is that you focus on being the kind of person that others want to connect with and meet.

Ask For Help From Others

This is something that almost nobody ever thinks to do.

That might sound simplistic, but it’s true.

So few people that are trying to learn more about the local freelancing scene ever stop to just ask someone else who is more experience for help.

When I was doing the interviews I mentioned above, one of the first things I would focus on is learning more about what the guest was doing that I was interested in learning more about.

The truth is that people love to share what they know with others.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re at in your career, everyone can teach you something.

Below is a script that you can use to ask for advice from someone else.

I’ve used this script countless times in my life to get advice from people that are way more knowledgeable than myself about a whole slew of topics.

All you have to do is fill in the blanks to fit your own situation.

Hi *Their Name*,

My name is *Your Name* and I’m a local *what you do* interested in *type of work*.

I’ve been doing some research around the opportunities in the area and noticed that you’re involved in *Group/Company/School/etc*.

Would you be open to getting together for coffee somewhere convenient to you in the coming week and so that I could ask you a couple of questions about your experience working in *type of work*?

Here are a few times that I am available:

*Date – Time*

*Date – Time*

Thanks so much for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!

-*Your Name*

P.S. – If it’s better for you, I could also just send my questions via email as well. Thanks again!

OK, so this email might sound a little forward but let’s unpack this script a bit to understand why this works.

First, you’ll notice that this email is very short with only about five sentences.

In the beginning, just simply introduce yourself and tell them exactly what you do.

You also want to tell them how you found out about them.

This is important because people will respect that you’ve done your homework before reaching out to them

Hi *Their Name*,

My name is *Your Name* and I’m a local *what you do* interested in *type of work*.

I’ve been doing some research around the opportunities in the area and noticed that you’re involved in *Group/Company/School/etc*.

Next, you’re going to ask for their advice.

Feel free to riff on this a little bit to give them a little background on yourself, but do yourself and the other person a favor by keeping it short.

Your goal here is to let them know that you admire their experience and would love to learn about their experience.

Also, I should point out that meeting up in person can be a big ask of someone’s time, especially if they’re busy.

Feel free to adjust this being a phone call or a Skype session.

Would you be open to getting together for coffee somewhere convenient to you in the coming week and so that I could ask you a couple of questions about your experience working in *type of work*?

In the next line, you’re going to share some specific that you are available to meet with them.

I know, I know.

This feels really forward but that’s OK. Seriously, just try it out.

The point of being specific is that it makes it really easy for them to say yes or no to you.

By getting specific with the time, you can potentially save a ton of time back and forth trying to schedule something.

Don’t worry if you can’t actually meet up with them because we address that in just a moment.

Here are a few times that I am available:

*Date – Time*

*Date – Time*

Finally, just thank them for their time.

But before you send any emails like this, always add a PS offering to just email a few questions over to them.

While most people will either not have any interest or free time to meet up, they just might respond to an email with some questions.

Thanks so much for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!

-*Your Name*

P.S. – If it’s better for you, I could also just send my questions via email as well. Thanks again.

One final thing that I want to call out before we move on is that you shouldn’t get discouraged if you do not get responses to many of these emails.

The reality is that your response rate might be low at first and that’s totally normal.

Just think, if you send out ten emails each week and get two responses, you will have connected with about eight new people each month.

Over the course of the year, you’ll have over one hundred new potential connections

How This All Ties Together

When it comes to building your network, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your ability to genuinely connect with others is going to help get you where you want to go.

In this post, we’ve outlined at a very high-level the approach I’ve used to grow my own network and I want to show you how to do the same.

At the end of the day, networking can be as simple as following these steps:

  1. Prioritize Relationships – You’ll never succeed in growing your network if you don’t take the time to invest in relationships with others. It doesn’t have to be something that takes a huge amount of your time. By just focusing ten minutes each day on reaching out and connecting with someone else, you could change the trajectory of your career. 
  2. Do Something Interesting – Most people are not great networkers because they make it all about themselves. Instead of thinking about it from the perspective that networking is about getting something from someone else, try focusing on how to make other people want to connect with you. Look for ways to add value to other and you’ll be in great shape. 
  3. Ask For Help – Nobody does anything on their own in the music industry and everyone has something they can learn from others. Whether it’s someone at the top of the field or a friend of yours that has a little more experience than you, take some time to ask for advice from others. This simple act will allow you to connect with countless other musicians and will also give you a great reason to stay in touch when you implement some of their advice.

If you’re serious about building a career in music, this approach can help you build a network of friends and colleagues that will be there to help get your where you want to go in your career.

Got any questions?

As always, reach out with questions and I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks for reading and happy networking!

2018-11-08T22:39:23+00:00