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Social Networking vs. Business Networking

Social Networking vs. Business Networking

December 2nd, 2008 by

An open-ended letter to a friend on the topic of Social Networking versus Business Networking in the music industry

[Editor’s Note: The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of GUITAR MESSENGER, its affiliates, or its sponsors. The below article contains adult themes and language. If this offends you, please exit this page. The names used in this article are fictitious in order to protect the identity of the mentioned persons.]


I can tell that you didn’t like my email response to your previous question. But just remember, YOU asked ME for my advice!

I know that you’re just getting started in the music business and that you REALLY want to land a great job, but once again—given all you’ve told me—YES, I do think that Paul asking you to FLY out to the Winter Music Conference on unofficial business was TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE!

Do you not see that this trip is only his opportunity to hook up with you? Do you not see that taking the trip without making it clear to him that you’re only into it for the business possibilities may be leading him on to think that he can get with you? And no, I don’t think this is networking!

Bottom line, you’re going to have to rethink your approach to a more professional one! You’re a cute girl, and I know you like getting attention, but if you want the professional respect you deserve and you want to avoid unnecessary drama in your life, you’d better listen up to the advice I’ve given you. Since it didn’t get through the first time, let me put it all another way…

There’s social networking and there is business networking. Social networking can be defined as that which takes place when there is a flirtatious air about a situation, such as when one is looking for a friend or mate with whom to spend PERSONAL time.

Business networking can be summed up to that which takes place when there is a business air about a situation, such as when one is looking for an internship, job, or a PROFESSIONAL contact.

But what happens when the line between social and business networking is crossed? In other words, what happens when someone, of a higher professional position, say the head of your favorite record company [sound familiar], clearly utilizes his ability to get you a job as the proverbial carrot to come-onto you?

To make matters even more challenging, what happens when this person of power is much older than you, is married, and is perhaps not what you would consider to be attractive [sound really familiar]?

Do you really think you have to play into this flirtation in order to get the internship or job? Or do you feel somewhat resentful that people in this industry use their power as a tool for sexual manipulation?

I think it’s the latter. And whether you are mature enough to admit, I think you’re playing right along with the best of them using you’re little slice of god-given power pie to get what you want. But be careful—you risk walking this dangerous minefield, mis-stepping, and blowing things all too pieces? Paul is a pretty powerful guy with a pretty powerful ego you know!

If you think females only have to deal with this crap, you’re wrong! When I first ventured into New York City as a professional musician signed to a major record company, I was lusted over by what seemed to be every female music publicist in the business. These girls were BIG—they worked for powerful magazine editors and had the clout that could have really helped my career.

Okay, I can already anticipate what you’re thinking. Guys get social trophies for the number of girls they “bag and tag.” But no, I didn’t bag and tag any of them! Remember when I said that these gals were BIG in the business? Well, I meant it in more ways than one. Not to sound cruel, but these gals were HUGE (READ—overweight and simply not “my type”). Hey, I don’t think I should have to defend what I am, and am not, attracted to. Bottom line, I wasn’t gonna go there, take one for “the team,” or do whatever you want to call it. Actually, I felt kind of resentful that they were throwing around their power with implied conditions, so I decided to play their game.

The challenge I imposed on myself, which was not too far off from what I believe you’re doing now, was how to lead these gals on while nurturing their professional status and contacts. And even more challenging, was how to lead them on long enough to get what I wanted, and to get what I wanted without letting them feel too used or rejected and without messing up my career.

Was this, as you indirectly called it—NETWORKING? No, it was GAME PLAYING, and I guess I got what I deserved in the end—DRAMA! I would find myself in precarious situations with certain gals, like being cornered in a Yellow Cab in front of their apartments, after a night at the clubs, with them hysterically begging me to “come inside.” I’d literally have to peal them off of me and to retreat into the depths of the New York City subways to get home.

Then I’d have to deal with the repercussions of their feeling rejected. I believe one girl, not coincidently, suddenly seemed to lose interest in developing stories about my band. My lead singer knew what was up and was as pissed as the color piss could be! My managers also gave me a severe talking to.

I eventually realized that the only way to deal with the LARGE, powerful, and flirtatious industry type of the opposite sex was to be more honest and more professional. If these chicks were going to give my band and me press, it was going to be because they liked my music and not because they thought there was a possibility of f***ing me.

From that moment on, when I got the sense that someone in the industry was interested in more than just my mastery of speed drumming, I would politely SHOW THEM (not just TELL them) that I was simply all about the business first.

For instance, I never “did” dinner—I always met them for a coffee or lunch—and I made sure that the coffee/lunch meeting was for an established reason (i.e., to talk about publicity for my upcoming book, to review a CD of my band, or to discuss career possibilities in the industry, etc). Oh, and I always paid for the meal. Always. Always, Always. I didn’t want to leave room for misinterpretation. I’d even have a cute girl (i.e., friend, girlfriend) meet me at the coffee/lunch place 60 minutes later, or call me on my cell so I could say, “Oh, that’s my girlfriend, she wants me to pick her up some tissues or something.” This way, I could make it out of there in a clean get-away.

Furthermore, when I accepted an event or party invitation, I always asked if I could have a “plus one,” and then I would bring my girlfriend (or fake girlfriend). I always followed up with a “Thank You” card or an e-mail written in a very professional tone. And I never gave my home phone or cell number—just a voice messaging service.

To sum things up, I was always very careful of not doing anything that might be considered overly flirtatious.


I was now spending more time dealing with business, and less time dealing with drama. Surely, the ATTENTION I got was less (no more high-powered fat chicks hanging around thinking they could f*** me), but what attention I did get was the kind that surely furthered my career!

So there you have it. Remember, you asked for my advice. You’re a good friend and I don’t want to see you make mistakes and get hurt. If you’re gonna’ fly out to Miami, make it clear to Paul that it is strictly business, that you want the return ticket in your hand, and that you want a separate room. I’d also suggest that you tell Paul that you have a boyfriend. Heck, wear a fake engagement ring. If the trip suddenly gets cancelled, than you know he wasn’t serious about you professionally. How drastically pathetic would that be! As Hunter S. Thompson put it, “The music business is a cruel shallow money trench where pimps and thieves run free and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

There’s social networking and business networking. Know the difference.

Good luck.


Social Networking vs. Business Networking

About Bobby Borg

Bobby Borg is a former Major label, independent, and DIY recording/touring artist with over 25 years experience. A graduate of Berklee College of Music with a BA in Professional Music, he serves as a music business educator at Musician’s Institute in Hollywood and at the University of Los Angeles in California, and he also arranges educational programs with institutions overseas. As a music business and A&R consultant to managers, labels, and supervisors, Borg is also a prominent guest speaker at music industry events and a regular contributor to international music business publications. He is the author of Billboard Books best-seller The Musician’s Handbook: A Practical Guide To Understanding The Music Business and the author of seven other instructional music books.

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  • Hi Bobby!
    i just found your info, and appreciate your insight…esp. the last line!!
    I was just asked to submit to play in Vegas…and it is probably just a scam.!!
    Glad you survived the battle!