The professional world is full of networking opportunities, from connecting with individuals at conferences to networking entirely online. For a church musician or a music director, these networking needs are far different than, say, a marketing manager of a Fortune 500 company. In fact, making connections with other local musicians in your community can be challenging but also rewarding. The ability to use resources through networking for your church will not only free up your precious time but also give you the tools you need to broaden the musical selections your congregation hears every Sunday without having to dip further into the budget. For those trying to network with local musicians or churches in your area, try these tips below.
1. Follow up, follow up, follow up.
When you meet someone in your local community who is willing to help with Sunday services or has similar interests, follow up with that person as soon as possible. Send a quick email, or pick up the phone and call directly. The phone call or email should include a thank-you and a reminder of why you’re following up: he offered to play Saturday-night services once each month; the two of you connected about organ preludes; etc. If you feel comfortable, suggest a quick cup of coffee or ask if you can have 15 minutes on the phone to talk about whatever it was that originally connected you both.
If you haven’t heard back from your contact in a week, follow up again with another call or email. More often than not, your message might be buried in the person’s inbox or was accidentally forgotten. It’s possible you may have to follow up more than once before receiving a response. Be patient and keep reaching out!
2. Use your smartphone.
Smartphones are one of the best ways to network with musicians around you. There are multiple apps that can help, and most are free to download on the App Store or Google Play. These two apps are especially helpful to find people near you:
I’ve seen people (including myself) use Meetup for many reasons. Some use it to gather people for social events, while others use it for volunteer efforts. There might be musicians in your area who don’t belong to a church but would love to play for yours. You never know who you’ll meet.
Create a group on Meetup for local church musicians in your city or town. Host an event every month to get people together. Events could be as simple as attending a concert, going to a (musical!) trivia night, bowling, or grabbing dinner at a local restaurant. When people RSVP to your event, they can automatically add it to their calendar, so they don’t forget. Post pictures after the event so others can see what your group is like and can invite friends next time. The best part of this app is that it also has a messaging feature, making it easier to contact people without having to give out your personal information right away.
Facebook Local app
Just like Meetup, Facebook Local is an app that shows events only to people in your area. (Note: Facebook Local is separate from the regular Facebook app). You can make an event, post it, and then watch as others start to discover it on Facebook Local and on Facebook itself. Although you cannot make a group on Facebook Local, you can use Facebook’s tools to grow your event’s communication. The great part about this app is that people who use Facebook will easily see your event and get notified when their friends are interested in your event, which makes recruiting musicians almost effortless.
3. Start (or join) a Facebook group.
Another great way to network with local musicians in your community is through Facebook groups. There are several church-musician groups, such as the Lutheran Musicians Community. Set your group to public so that it’s easy to find. If members are concerned about privacy, you can set the group to private. The great part about Facebook groups is that members can post at any time, which allows room for various discussions. It also becomes much easier to post an event on the page for others to potentially attend. Start by inviting people you know from your own church and those you have met from different networking events. Encourage people to invite their local friends so that your group members can grow and support one another.
Local networking can be extremely difficult, but with the right tools, you can grow your reach and meet other musicians in your area. Growing the number of musicians who can play for your church or meeting other music directors can ease some of the stress of planning and let you focus more of what matters: proclaiming Christ’s love through the beauty of music.
Join the new CPH Facebook Group and chime in if any of these tips worked for you or if you have other tips to share.