I’m an entrepreneur. I don’t own a $500-million business, but I’ve managed to build a couple successful businesses over the last seven years.
Wanna know six words that used to annoy the crap out of me?
IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW.
I hated hearing that sentence for a long time. Why? Because I didn’t know anybody. And nearly every music business success story I’ve heard first-hand starts with something like “I was hanging out at the studio playing on a random session, and I met X artist who just happened to be there, and he liked what I was playing so he asked me to go on tour with him.”
Or “I met this guy around town, and his bass player got sick and a mutual friend told him he should use me on that session…then he called me back a few weeks later to play on a major label recording session.”
So if you don’t know anybody, and everybody seems to say “It’s all about who you know,” then of course you’d be angry, right?
But I had a choice. I could stay angry about something I couldn’t control. (I can’t control who I do and don’t know at this moment right now.) Or I could focus on what I can control, things like putting myself out there, meeting new people, helping anyone and everyone I can, putting in the work.
A lot of people will hear the phrase “It’s all about who you know,” and they will set out on a mission to meet as many people as possible. They shove their business card into everyone’s hand. If they meet someone they think could really advance their career, they dive in and go straight for the jugular: “Hey!! Is there anything you can do to help me? Here’s who I am and what I’m trying to do…”
Don’t be like that. I’ve been on the receiving end of those interactions, and they’re just…slimy.
Wanna know a better way to tweak that sentence above? Instead of
“Hey!! Is there anything you can do to help me? Here’s who I am and what I’m trying to do…”
“Hey!! Is there anything I can do to help YOU? Here’s who I am and what I can offer…”
Even that comes on a bit strong, but it’s far less slimy.
An even better approach would be something like, “Hi, my name is Joe. I’ve followed your work for a while, and I absolutely loved the work you did on X project. I just wanted to say thank you for what you do.”
Wait, what?! YOU DIDN’T EVEN ASK FOR THE PERSON’S HELP, JOE.
Precisely. It’s called starting a relationship. No, there’s nothing wrong with asking, but when you hear “It’s all about who you know,” do you think that’s talking about people who ask for favors or people who build relationships?
What if I walked up to Pam 13 years ago and said, “Hello. I think you are beautiful. You’re gonna love me. Will you marry me?”
Bzzzzt. That’s not how this works.
It’s the same way with everything.
I’ve spent the last 7 years building relationships, both one-on-one and at scale through Home Studio Corner. Have I done a great job at it? In a lot of ways, no. But a lot of amazing things have come from putting myself out there and providing value for other people.
A few examples:
- Dueling Mixes – My 2nd business I started with Graham Cochrane. Graham was just another commenter on my blog, but I developed a relationship with him years ago that led us to starting a podcast together and eventually launching Dueling Mixes.
- Getting my music on the radio. Just recently, I invited a new friend to a show I was playing. He’s a DJ on the big independent radio station here in Nashville. I just wanted to invite him and get to meet him in person. (We had interacted over Twitter and email.) He couldn’t make it to the show, but he did announce it on the radio and play one of my songs on the air.
I don’t have to give you lots of stories. You’ve heard plenty of them. The point is, yes, it stinks if you don’t feel like you know anyone. And yes, sometimes it seems unfair that sometimes success comes down to who you know.
But that should also be inspiring for you. Because it takes ZERO talent to strike up a relationship. It just takes courage, effort, and a focus on that person’s needs over your own.
Not every relationship will yield massive results for you. In fact, most of them won’t. But it only takes one or two to change your life.
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