Feeling nervous at a networking event as a university student is a common experience. But connecting with others on a regular basis can lead to invaluable opportunities, not just in your professional career, but to further your personal passions and interests.
Richard Han (he/him), Bachelor of Commerce, Information Systems and International Business, graduating 2022, has pursued his passion for music from a young age, which has led to major successes in his DJ career.
Richard shares with UNSW Business School how following his dream of running his own DJ business and gaining the confidence to network with industry-relevant contacts took him to where he is today.
From an early age, I started playing the piano. While I was good at it, I realised I didn’t really enjoy classical music. But using the music knowledge I gained from playing the piano, my interest started to grow in how to mix music –meaning to put different songs together. It was a unique passion, and one I was teased a lot about in high school. But I continued to chase it because I knew that DJing was something that I was genuinely passionate about.
What really drew me into becoming a DJ was the fact that I could bring people from different backgrounds into one place. Music really does unite people, regardless of factors such as an individual’s gender or nationality. When I’m performing at a club, I see people from different backgrounds, and it feels like everyone is there purely to enjoy the music.
Seeing people who have never met before enjoying themselves and having a good time all together in any situation makes me really happy. So being able to bring a smile to people’s faces and bring people together through my expression of self, music and DJing, is an even greater bonus.
Some people may not see DJing as a real job. It certainly is, and it is challenging work that requires a lot of networking in order to succeed at it. Connecting with people and networking play a really significant role in this success.
Within the entertainment industry, job security is not something that is always guaranteed, as you have to rely on yourself to source gigs. To do this, you have to remain relevant, and (in addition to having the technical skills) the only way to do that is if you connect with a range of people on a regular basis. It is crucial to obtain and constantly improve on your stakeholder management skills and have exceptional interpersonal skills. In terms of stakeholders, that might be promoters, club managers, and (occasionally), famous music artists.
In my opinion, networking plays a 50 per cent role in your success as a DJ. No matter how good you are, you can’t progress as far if you don’t put in the effort to connect with others in the industry. Engaging with others means making sure you have the right people around you, working with you, booking you for events and supporting you to fuel your career growth.
An example I have is one time where I was DJing and the venue manager I was at liked my skillset, and how I was able to read the crowd and play music that catered to attendees music tastes. Because of this established relationship, during the COVID-19 period, they referred me to other venue managers who were looking for a DJ for function events. While night clubs were closed, I was able to perform at function events (which were allowed for certain periods of time) and continue to maintain my income.
I have learnt many technical and transferrable skills from my Bachelor of Commerce – skills that are highly relevant to many industries, including the music entertainment industry where I work.
Data analytics, business analysis, stakeholder management, leadership, the importance of teamwork, social media analytics and negotiation skills have all helped elevate the planning, logistics, marketing and overall operations of my DJing business. For example, my knowledge on certain analytics tools such as SAS Visual Analytics has allowed me to drastically improve the reach of the marketing campaigns that are created for my events.
Acquiring and consistently improving on these skills through my UNSW Business School degree has provided me with confidence when networking with others, and has been one of the biggest contributors to the success of my business.
Through my work, I very much recognise the importance of hosting events that bring people together and celebrate their shared passion for music. And one of the factors I have identified as being a barrier to including a wider range of students in some events is methods of communication.
From my own experience working in the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team at the UNSW Business School and speaking with various student society leaders, I’ve realised that these societies play a major role in making students feel safe and welcome at events and feel like they have a sense of belonging and inclusion at university. But societies may struggle to even connect with individuals in the first place – in part, due to the accessibility of channels they might use to promote their events.
For example, through conversations with other students, I found that many international students from China do not have access to the social media channel, Facebook, which a lot of societies use to communicate key information about their events. The question then is, how can we include certain students in student societies if they do not have access to this information?
Because we are more reliant on digital communication, I think UNSW Business School students should focus on making their communication channels more inclusive to all students, which could include using other forms of social media or communication which are more widely accessible. I would recommend that Business School students consider this and other reasons why under-represented groups might struggle to feel included or get access to these events, and seek to resolve this.
At UNSW, because we all aim to embrace inclusion, I believe students and student societies alike, really should consider ways to make their communication about events more accessible to people of diverse needs and backgrounds. In doing so, they can help create an environment where genuine friendships and relationships can be made by everyone.