6 Strategies For Creating Relationships.

Building Relationships feature image

By Johnny Dwinell

Youve heard the saying Its all about relationships so much it really doesnt mean much anymore; its clich. The problem is its true. If you think about it, your whole life is about relationships, so why is it such a surprise to some people that the music industry is no different? For some weird reason, people seem to completely understand relationships in their own little world and behave appropriately. However, so many feel like the musicOvernight Success Jobs Relationships image industry is just about what is on your CD (or worse in your head and NOT on a CD!) and one big chance that will change everything. The problem is just like your life; success in the music industry is all about what you do consistently every day and the relationships you make. I assure you that no hit writer or Country superstar waltzed into town, met one person, who was the right person, and became successful overnight.

It only seems like that when you are outside the business because you dont see the struggle.

You dont see the climb.

You dont see the heartbreak.

You don’t see the small successes along the journey.

Understandably, your perspective is that this person came from nowhere and now they are on your RADAR screen from the BIG success. You weren’t aware of them yesterday and today you are, so it feels like it happened overnight.

Get it?

Every year TONS of hopeful artists and songwriters flock to Nashville for CMA Fest, CRS, Tin Pan South, and several other events that guarantee the presence of many influential people in the music business. Every year we Music Row residents get throngs of writers and artists who just walk into our offices and recording studios without an invitation, referral, or a relationship, CD in hand, hoping to get someone, anyone, to listen to their song and change their life for the better.


This is NOT a smart or effective way to create ANY relationship! Let me give you a personal example. Imagine if there was an unknown person out there who was romantically in love with YOU. Now imagine this person Home Invasion Relationships imagehasnt met you but feels deep down in their soul of souls that once you meet them you are going to fall in love and live happily ever after. Then picture yourself sitting at home when said stranger comes walking through your door, sits down in your living room, presents a gift, and pledges their undying devotion to you. Scared yet?

You were dialing 911 or running the second the door opened, huh? Even if that person WAS in fact your soul-mate you dont freaking care because their stalker-like behavior ruined any possibility of a relationship. The first impression was disturbing and you dont get a second chance to make a first impression.

So you see, it is all about relationships. So is your life. The people you chose to let into your life so far have never come unsolicited! They were referred (a friend of a friend), they offered to help you with a problem you had, you did business with them, you work with them, You went to school with them, you grew up with them, you were at a party with them, etc…Think about it.

So I thought I would share a few ideas on how to create business relationships; some of these might even fall under the umbrella of ice-breakers.


Here are 6 Strategies for Creating Relationships

Give, Give, Give

Nobody likes door to door salesmen because nobody wants to be sold. Nobody responds with business reverence to pathetic or downtrodden people with their hats in their hands begging for a favor. You may get Give Relationships imagesomeone to act out of sorrow or empathy, but this would feel like a donation to the giver, NOT the beginning of a healthy working relationship; so in this scenario, even if you win, you lose. If you are asking for something first you should expect to be turned down. Why not give first? What could you offer that, if accepted, would put you on their RADAR screen? The most precious gift you could offer would be your time. Why not shoot a fruit or cookie basket with a coupon for X amount of hours of your time? Attach a note that says, no strings, no catch, I just love the way you do business and would like to help you by ________, how exactly can I lend a hand? Maybe youre a carpenter, an office organizer, a studio runner, a tech, a computer nerd, a hair dresser, photographer, lawyer, doctor, graphic designer, etc. Whatever you do, offer them some hours of your time for free to help them solve a problem they are having right now and expect nothing in return. Its not fool proof, but your odds go up; bottom line, the more you give, the more you receive.

Shut Up and Appear Stupid

Shut Up Relationships imageIf you are green or in a situation/conversation that is over your head, its far better to shut your mouth and appear stupid than to open it up and remove all doubt. People who are constantly growing constantly find themselves in situations that are over their head; it comes with the territory. You cant be judged for something you didnt do or say, you can only be judged for something you did do and/or say. When you keep your mouth shut in a conversation that is above your current skill set or understanding several dynamics begin to take place. First, you listen and therefore learn (what a concept!). Second, the players doing the talking have no idea what you are thinking or how much you know because they cant read minds; you remain a mystery. Third, because of this truth your clout in the conversation does not go down which is a far better position to maintain that opening your mouth making inaccurate statements (because you just dont know) and looking like a moron. Remember people love to talk about themselves and share their knowledge because it makes them feel important. A well place question is extremely effective as it gets you in the conversation and gets the players engaging with you. The more they talk to you, the more they feel important, the more they will like you.

Self Deprecation

Strategic self deprecation can be quite effective at diffusing a tense or uncomfortable situation. Every new relationship starts out uncomfortable until the ice is broken a bit. I remember when I was one of the top sales Self Depricating Homer Simpsion Relationships imagepeople at a massive 34 billion dollar mortgage company back in 2006. There was a gigantic West Coast management coup; my bosss boss was being replaced. Loyalties ran deep in this situation, we loved our old Regional Manager and nobody wanted to like the new guy. The new Regional Manager, Barry, (direct from New York) desperately needed to create relationships with his somewhat hostile California sales force so he could effectively lead them. Barry intelligently chose to meet his new Account Executives at their respective branches as the smaller gathering would facilitate better rapport. He opened his first speech to us (our first impression) by saying in an authoritative voice, Hello. My name is Barry _____, I will be your new Regional Manager, and I got news for youIm not the smartest guy in the room. Then he paused for what seemed an eternity… as he looked around the room and watched those words sink in. WOW! He had my attention. Get it? Sometimes doing or saying the opposite of what people expect can be very disarming which allows your audience to open up and receive whatever information you are disseminating. FYI, dont be too self deprecating as that can quickly become pathetic which is a turn off.


Referrals Welcome Relationships imageYou are far more likely to accept someone who is a friend of a friend or a friend of a business associate. A referred relationship comes with some sort of clout and instant acceptance (make sure you understand what kind of clout, LOL, dont let a crazy, fanatical person refer you or you will be received as crazy and fanatical too). A songwriter who is introduced to a publishing company by another songwriter is far more likely to get a meeting with the publishing company than someone who just walks in off the street. An Artist who is referred to a producer by another artist the producer knows is going to be taken more seriously as well. How do you create referrals? I recommend making a list of everyone you want to know first. Then make a list of everybody you know who knows those people on the list. Its going to take awhile but it is a great way of starting a relationship and so well worth the time invested. Another great idea is to move to Nashville and get in the mix. Hang out at writers nights like Whiskey Jam on Monday nights at Winners Bar and Grill. Find a writer you like and offer up a drink! Its a welcomed gift and a fantastic way to get a conversation started. Have a CD in hand and suggest a co-write. Maybe youre going to get 20 nos to get to one yes but you only need 1 yes to start. Then there is your chance. 1 “yes” leads to one killer writing session. Now you will be referred to that writer’s friends, etc.


Everybody loves to laugh. Comedians are usually very dark, disturbed people who harbor a lot of pain, but everybody loves them because they are FUNNY! Comedians know this and use humor to break the ice and be Humor Relationships imageaccepted; they use humor to create relationships. If you have a quick wit, use it to your advantage in a strategic manor. If you dont have a quick wit, or you dont come off as funny, then keep your mouth shut and appear stupid; maintain your clout.


Do Business Relationships imageThe most effective way to create a relationship is through business. If you are a songwriter, and you want to break into Nashville, you will need to start creating relationships. You are also going to need song demos to shop around town. Why not HIRE some of the people you want to get to know or hire the people who know the people you want to get to know? You are helping them by becoming a part of their cash flow. They are helping you by delivering a killer song demo you need to take your next step. The relationship becomes a by-product of a symbiotic relationship; everybody wins.




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