by Gamal Hennessy
I was walking into work today and a random co-worker asked me if I went to “industry parties” because he wanted to attend some to meet people “in the business” and get his project off the ground. I get this kind of request a lot. Some people think that they can just show up at a party with a demo or an idea, sit down next to Jay-Z and blow up the next day.
Sorry. It doesn’t really work like that. My personal story is a good example of what really happens.
Nightlife can be one of the best ways to hustle in New York. The premise of Elizabeth Currid’s book the Warhol Economy is that the nightlife scene in New York drives much of the business on Wall Street, Madison Avenue and every industry you can think of.
But you can’t just show up at a party and expect to connect with the big dogs. It’s a process that develops over time. To get the best results you have to follow the process including:
1) Get out of your house: Nightlife personality Steven Lewis told me that “You have to go out to find out where to go out.” If you immerse yourself in the scene, then you’ll naturally find out where to go. If you stay at home waiting for the party to come to you, then you will be waiting for a long time.
2) Expand your existing network: If you have any friends at all then you know people who know people that you want to meet. Hang out with them for a while and you can make good hustle connections. You might even have some fun.
3) Start low: The bartender you meet today might be a club owner tomorrow. The warm up DJ could become the next big producer. The struggling artist might be the next big thing. Don’t think you have to meet the big dogs right away. It is often better to meet people on the way up instead of when they are already at the top.
4) Make a connection and have something to offer: No one is going to work with you or take a chance on you if they don’t know you and see any benefit for themselves. Being introduced by a mutual friend helps, but it will only take you so far. At some point you have to be willing to put time and effort into the connection before anything comes out of it.
5) Be patient: You can’t expect to meet someone on Monday and have them give you a record deal or an advance or anything else by Friday. The bad news is that it might take months or years of building up your network to the point where you can make things happen and a lot of times nothing will happen that helps your long term hustle. The good news is that you can spend that time drinking, dancing and having fun. There are worse ways to meet people.
When I got into nightlife culture I didn’t know anyone or anything. Now my network includes club owners, musicians, DJs, liquor brand managers, promoters, designers, writers, dancers, advertisers and a lot of other great people. I’m still growing my connections and expanding my reach, but ultimately I’m out having fun. That is the best way to use nightlife culture for networking.