Networking. A bit of a chore. For most of us anyway. We've all done gigs that have gone on for longer than promised, with people who have that loud piercing laugh which has our teeth grinding, or really forced chat with someone just as uninterested in engaging in conversation as you are. Then that silent (or sometimes not so silent) cheer when you realise your pal is sat the other side of the orchestra and you can ease into the tea break chat with mindless natter. Who feels me!?
Freelancing really relies on a strong network of people who support you, your craft and your ambition in the industry. It's part of the job to stay and chat and to always present the best version of yourself as you can, and although sometimes you'd much rather be on your way home to a face mask and Netflix, it's usually a pretty sweet deal that you can bag future work by having a pint with someone after a gig.
The bit that fully BAFFLES me about networking is how much we put up with from a 'good contact'. You know, the things that were said behind your back about your playing, or your sense of fashion or your hair (WHY?! SO irrelevant but still a thing UGH) and generally unkind or disloyal remarks. Everyone has had to ignore things from someone they've thought it important to 'keep on side' (read 'useful') and it's one of the more warped things about the industry IMO. You *hopefully* wouldn't entertain this kind of backstabbing behaviour from your pals, but when it comes to networking it becomes a totally different thing.
You learn fairly quickly who you really click with and want to go for a coffee with and who you want to get to know for purely professional purposes, don't you? It sounds callous, I know, but if you don't vibe with someone you don't wanna hang out with them. So lets not.
Let's not entertain unkindness in search of opportunity.
Let's not normalise nastiness or fake relationships because it might secure us more work.
Let's in turn, start cultivating our network of professional contacts with the same care we would our mates.
Lets start building a team of people on our own terms.
I'm a total sucker for giving people the benefit of the doubt. I always search for the best in people, and usually allow them to behave in ways that I don't dig. But I've started to realise that it does neither of us good and if we can' talk it through or figure it out, i'm honestly not interested in investing in that relationship. It should be the same when we make professional relationships, no?
I'm the biggest believer that the energies you put out into the world attract people with similar vibes. It's not foolproof though, and since graduating i've realised that sometimes you need to distance yourself from people and things that don't make you feel like the best version of you. I've realised the importance of building your own team. Of really looking after the friendships with the people who make you feel great and give you painful belly laughs. Working with the musicians that inspire you and free your creativity, not those that leave you feeling judged and exposed.
I've not got it all figured out yet- i've just started by thinking more carefully about the energy I put into situations, so that I protect who I am and so that my team of people is really excellent and powerful. Let's see what happens!