Nikki Camilleri is a graduate of BIMM, our 2018/19 industry partner and a guest panelist at our event on 7 November 2018 "Networking Smarter: How to grow your music career through strategic networking. We had a chat to her about how she handles networking.
What advice would you give your younger self attending a networking event?
I think I'd tell myself not to stress about networking and collecting business cards - there's nothing good that comes from forcing conversations or blindly approaching people. Network your own way and give it time - 1 real contact is better than 10 lousy ones.
Networking is a big part of your role as an A&R Manager at Believe Music. What do you look for in networking events? To be honest, I've never been big on events which call themselves networking events, I'm all about natural networking and building relationships with people based on genuine links and shared interests ideally by knowing some people in common or having worked together on a project previously. Obviously when you're starting out that might not really be an option for you so what I found best from my experience was doing my 'networking' at non-networking coined events such as jam nights, some gigs, some music pub quizzes, when at the studio with musician friends etc where the pressure of 'this is an event where you must network' isn't so obvious. Networking isn't something you switch off or bring out 4 times a year at networking events. It's constant- be pleasant and polite and make an effort to speak to people and you'll be fine.
But in summary I suppose what I look for in actual networking events is a lighter, less traditional approach, with more of an agenda to the event e.g. via panel or activity which breaks the ice, gives you something to talk about and is a bit more engaging.
What are your personal top 5 tips for networking events?
Find an event that one or two people you already know are going to, that way you can contact share and intro each other to new people. It also isn't as daunting when you aren't there alone.
Do not immediately ask people for things, build a relationship first.
No one wants your CD, sorry (unfortunately a common one as an A&R - few people own a CD player in this country. If you must plug your music, give a business card or simply your artist name... we can Google it).
Use every opportunity - Get chatting to someone whilst waiting for a drink at the bar or in the bathroom queue (girls you know what I'm talking about), no use waiting in silence and it's far better than interrupting people who are already having a chat (a massive no no).
Name dropping can be off putting - do it tastefully and only if relevant.
As an alumni of BIMM, what key skills did you learn there that has helped you get where you are today?
I think as the school is primarily musicians I really learnt to see things from their angle and learn how to communicate with them, what's important to them etc. which really helps me in my role.
Also, how important it is to be nice and give value to everyone as I've very happily bumped into many teachers, staff and students since, with whom I've mutually shared opportunities as well as just enjoyed seeing a friendly face when at one music event or another. What's your 'golden' networking moment?
It's hard to pick one, but the first that came to mind which puts a smile on my face was recently being asked to sit on a Roundhouse panel/workshop by a lovely new independent artist manager I had met at a conference and given some advice to quite some time before. She had just started working as an event programmer at Roundhouse and thought of me. It was really humbling and further proves the note I mentioned above about being helpful and giving value to all.
Nikki Camilleri is an A&R Manager at Believe Music, London.