Radio presenter, DJ, music manager, voice-over artist, music supervisor and networking coach Marsha Shandur came to BIMM recently to talk to students about networking and how it will help them.

Marsha began the session by speaking about her own experience with networking and how she used to be terrified of it, because “schmoozing is hard”. She started out in radio and told stories about what little confidence she had at the beginning of her career when she was approaching employers. Despite this, she secured work with the BBC and as a DJ at Xfm (now Radio X) and also became a music supervisor for hit TV shows The Inbetweeners and Made In Chelsea. She explained to the students how she achieved this:

“After getting these sought-after jobs – that almost everyone I knew wanted – I realised that got them through networking. It’s just that networking isn’t what I thought it was. Instead of walking up to the most important person in the room and telling them how amazing they are and how amazing I am, networking is just talking to people that you like about things that you are interested in”.

Marsha offered several top tips and tricks:

“When you’re at an event you need to talk to people you don’t know. If it is somewhere, you expected to meet new people – like a networking event, or a talk with a networking component – you can just walk up and introduce yourself to start the conversation. Questions are your best friend.”

Marsha explained that smart networking is about drawing out information. “When you show a genuine interest in someone, it makes them feel amazing – and that’s what they’ll remember best. Also, if you’re shy, by asking questions, you barely have to do any of the talking!”

She also covered how to answer a question that a lot of us dislike: “So…what do you do?” Marsha explained that you shouldn’t worry too much because most people are just trying to make conversation! She reminded us that:

“The question isn’t ‘what is your job title?’ It’s ‘what do you DO?’ Doing is a verb – an action word. So tell us what you actually do. It can be broken down into: ‘WHO do you help? WHAT do you do for them? and, WHY do you do it’. This last question is the most important – it’s what’ll make people care the most. We’re all in this industry because we’re passionate about what we do, so show the person why YOU care, and that will make them care.”

Marsha gave an idea for what to do if you get stuck in a boring conversation:

“Before you bail, see if you can get more engaged to make the conversation interesting. Try wiggling your toes or, if that doesn’t work, imagine that the person you’re talking to is the lead character in a cool indie film. Suddenly, everything about them will become fascinating! And they’ll pick up on that, will feel good – and hopefully, get more interesting! If you want to leave a conversation, it’s as simple as smiling warmly, saying, ‘It was lovely to meet you!’ Then walking away with confidence as it leaves them feeling better off.”

An email ‘follow-up’ as Marsha explained, “is the cornerstone of great networking”. She offered email templates and suggested that you should send a ‘great to meet you’ email, every time you encounter someone in the industry. Common mistakes to avoid when sending emails were:

“When you write the email, start off making it about the person you’re writing to, and not you. Remember that they get hundreds of emails every single day – and almost every message starts with people talking about themselves. Comment on something the person you’re writing to has recently done to show your enthusiasm for them in particular.”

Marsha also explained to the students that lots of people want to help:

“None of us became successful in the industry without getting help from people further ahead of us. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

To round up, Marsha re-iterated that networking is NOT about schmoozing or ‘brown-nosing’. It’s simply:

“Talking to people that you like about things that you are interested in. Make sure you speak to people other than your mates, always follow-up with an email, and add value, long before you ask for anything in return.”

The students found all of Marsha’s advice and tips incredibly helpful:

“This was an outstanding session. It was awesome to get such useful advice on how to email in a way that is both professional and personal. Really helpful tips that I will definitely use” – Mitch Smith, BA2 Events Management

“Networking is something I always hear about and something that I should be doing, but I have been unsure about. This was really useful advice that I haven’t seen anywhere else – very specific with mention of experiences and how to apply these ideas” – Thomas Collins – BA3 Guitar

Masterclass in the art of networking – with Marsha Shandur, founder of

  • Berlin, Brighton, London, Manchester, Careers & Industry
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