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Sounding Board: 5 Steps to Become A Skilled Networker

Pro-audio industry executive Mike Dias breaks down his five crucial steps to advancing your career through networking with peers.

Mike Dias
Mike Dias writes and speaks about What Entertainers Can Teach Executives and Why Nobody Likes Networking. He is the executive director for the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization and the vice president of sales for Earthworks Audio. He loves to trade stories, to talk shop, and to hear about your networking successes and failures! mike@inearmonitor.org.

We’re a few columns in, so I figure it’s about time that I introduce myself and tell you a little bit about me. I’m a sales and marketing guy, and I get things done by growing relationships and connecting dots. Like many of you, I normally work behind the scenes to make the “show” come together; I launch products and move projects forward while comfortably staying in the background.

It is pretty safe to say that anyone who knows me well, knows that I love the sales process and that I live for customer service—but my truest and deepest passion revolves around Customer Relationship Management systems. I know. Not the most interesting dinner topic, but I can preach the benefits of having a well-groomed contact database until I’ve cleared the room. For those of you who have worked with me over the years, you know that once I get on that soapbox, I can go on and on. And on.

But here’s why I’m so passionate about this topic and why I write this column: It works. I’ve worked for some of the most recognized companies in the Pro Audio space, and as the executive director of the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization, I represent top manufacturers from all over the world. I firmly believe this is because of the contacts that I have nurtured in my network, from my own personal CRM system. Everything I accomplish is because of the people I know.

Sounding Board: Networking Works When You Know Your Part

Sounding Board: Networking From Six Feet

The thing is, I’m not a sound engineer and I’m not a musician. I didn’t even start off in this this space. It was a series of serendipitous events, and as I became more successful, I wanted to deconstruct how I approached networking and see if I could effectively teach others the steps that opened doors for me. Once I began to put some of my thoughts down on paper, I realized that I really had something to contribute. I started coaching teams on how to network authentically and gave talks about why Nobody Likes Networking.

Then COVID hit and decimated our industry and impacted friends and colleagues. I figure that my tools can help now more than ever and I’m committed to getting the message out there.

So here’s what I do. Here’s my system. None of these are inherently difficult on their own, but the trick is to do them all together.

STEP 1: SAY YES—The next time that someone invites you somewhere, say yes. The next time that you get asked to do a small project with a new team, say yes. The next time that you get an opportunity to meet someone new, say yes. If it’s a stretch and slightly out of your comfort zone, that’s a telltale sign to say yes.

STEP 2: SHOW UP—Keep your commitments. Don’t be late. Be reliable. It is always easier to find a reason to get out of doing something new than to show up. Showing up is the hardest part, but it sets everything else into motion.

STEP 3: SUIT UP—Get in the game. Prepare for the event. Do your homework. Figure out who’s going to be there and take the time to learn something about them in advance.

STEP 4: FOLLOW UP—In every social interaction, there is always an exchange of ideas and commitments, and your job is to pay attention to what those are and to follow up on them. Maybe you offered to make an introduction, or you found a common overlap on a shared interest—maybe it was a book, a recipe, travel advice, anything. Take the time to follow up on it. If you mentioned the book, send it. If someone recommended a book, read it. And don’t forget to log your notes into your personal CRM System.

STEP 5: MOVE IT FORWARD—Keep the momentum and figure out a way that you can help or be of service. Check in at a later date. Make introductions. Share articles on your mutual interests.

Do this and you’ll be well on your way to turning random contacts into friendships. It all starts with saying yes. By investing time and energy into helping those around you, you grow your circle of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Sooner or later, people will refer to you as well-connected and a good networker. Your circle will expand from there.

It all starts with saying yes.

Mike Dias writes and speaks about What Entertainers Can Teach Executives and Why Nobody Likes Networking. He is the executive director for the In-Ear Monitor International Trade Organization and the vice president of sales for Earthworks Audio. He loves to trade stories, to talk shop, and to hear about your networking successes and failures! Connect with Mike at mike@inearmonitor.org

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