May 31, 2022 I Next Gen Retailing I by Jeremy Payne

Make Those Connections

During a recent NAMM board meeting, a fellow board member asked the group, “Why do you choose to go to The NAMM Show? Raise your hand if it is for writing and collecting orders.” A few hands went up. “Is it to see or release new products?” About double the number of hands went up. “For educational sessions?” About half the room raised hands. “For connecting with people?” Every hand in the room went up. When it comes down to it, the biggest opportunity to seize at The NAMM Show is making connections.

After more than two years without a winter NAMM Show, we all need to prioritize connecting with people. Promotions, products and education are all important and belong on our itineraries. But above all else, it’s the people behind those promotions, products and educational sessions that matter most. I would urge everyone who is attending The 2022 NAMM Show to prioritize meeting with their customers, vendors and other industry peers in June. Be really purposeful about it, too. Don’t just schedule a business meeting. Dedicate some of that time to socializing. In many cases, we haven’t seen each other in years. We owe it to ourselves to catch up in the flesh.

Get Connecting
For many, June 3–5 will be their first NAMM Show experience. If you’re reading this as a first-timer, keep reading. I’ve got some great networking resources for you. If you’re reading this as a co-worker, peer or manager of a first-time NAMMer, help them connect. Introduce them to as many people as possible. Or, connect them with one of our industry groups that focuses on networking, such as the NAMM Young Professionals or Women of NAMM — formerly SWIM.

The NAMM Young Professionals’ (NAMM YP) events bring together NAMM members under the age of 40. This year, we have back-to-back events. The first is June 3 from 4–5 p.m. in the Idea Center. During this event, we’ll hear from keynote speaker and Alto Music owner Jon Haber, who will share stories about his impressive career. I worked on some planning discussions with Jon, and I expect him to pull no punches, meaning he’ll share the good, the bad and the ugly. If you know Jon, this shouldn’t come as surprise. Immediately following Jon’s keynote, NAMM YP will migrate down to the Member Center for a networking reception featuring drinks and appetizers from 5–6 p.m.

Another great networking event happens Friday night at 6 p.m. poolside at the Westin Hotel when Women of NAMM holds its reception. This season’s NAMM show scholarship recipients will be introduced, as will several professional development opportunities available from the council.

Set a Goal

My personal networking goal for The 2022 NAMM Show is to make 25 new connections. I challenge you to set a similar goal. A goal without a strategy is mostly vapor, so here’s how I plan to accomplish this.

I’ll be attending both of the above events and trying my best to find new people to connect with. I plan on finding someone I know who’s speaking with someone I don’t know. This is great because I get to connect with an old friend while gaining a new one. If you have connections around the industry, give it a try. If you don’t have many industry contacts, find me or any NAMM YP board member, and we’ll be happy to help you start your networking journey. You can find our contact info and photos at Reach out in advance and we’ll plan a meet-up.

I’ll be on the look-out for familiar faces and names. I enjoy meeting interesting people and have found there’s no reason to be shy about introducing myself. In my experience, folks are usually flattered to be known and happy to meet someone new. That is, so long as your intentions are purely focused on networking. If you’re hunting for a job or a sale this way, it could come across negatively. Keep it cool and honest. Opportunities like those will bloom organically once you have a strong network. MI

Jeremy Payne is brand director and national accounts manager at The Music People and NAMM Young Professionals’ vice president. NAMM YP, which consists of young professionals in the music industry, focuses on the betterment of future leaders by providing opportunities to connect, learn and grow from one another.

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