Updated: Apr 27
Editor's Note: I LIKE NETWORKING is a platform which aims to support women and non-binary professionals looking for a career in the creative and cultural industry and those who already work in the field but feel stuck. Its founder Isabel Sachs wanted to create a tailored solution to help everyone achieve their goals and create a more diverse workforce. Only 54% of women have access to mentors, so I like Networking is on a mission to change that and work towards gender equality. Their program aims to tackle the severe lack of diversity in the creative industry.
Our very own Géraldine Zanaska, Compass Music founder, is a mentor for this year's mentoring program, alongside many (50!) professionals from the wider creative industries. Other mentors in the music field specifically include:
Cleo Thompson (Music Brand Partnerships, UTA)
Jess Kangalee (Founder, Good Energy PR)
Marcela Moreira (Director, Global Marketing LATAM, Warner Music Group)
Paula Abreu (Associate Director of Programming, SummerStage)
Ryo Murad (Global Agency & Brand Partnerships at Spotify)
Vick Bain (Founder, The F-List directory, author, PhD researcher)
Gilbert Johnson (Artist Manager and Co-Founder, Hear This Records).
Applications for the I Like Networking mentoring program are now open! Make sure you apply before the deadline on 19th April, from wherever in the world! The program is international and online.
1. Hi Isabel! Can you introduce yourself, your career, and your organisation I Like Networking ?
Isabel Sachs: Sure! My name is Isabel and I am the founder of I LIKE NETWORKING, a mentoring & networking initiative for the creative industries. I have been working in the creative sector for over 15 years now, initially starting in film & visual arts then moving to music & theatre, opening and selling my own agency in Brazil before moving to London in mid-2014. So you can say I've done a lot of different things and have pivoted a few times in my career.
2. What brought you to start I Like Networking ?
I lost my job in April 2020 due to the pandemic and had a few weeks of what I like to call "Netflix and Crying". I got tired of that and realised that although the situation was not ideal, I had a support system around me, and friends and mentors in the creative industry sending me leads and freelance work. I realised that I was in a position where I could do something to support the industry which was really hurting early on in the pandemic.
I decided to stop thinking about myself and think about how I could bring value instead; that mindset shift changed everything.
3. You started a new mentoring and networking program for women and non-binary professionals in the creative and cultural industries. Why do you think we still need this kind of program in 2021, and what can you tell us about this program specifically ?
The pandemic has just exacerbated inequalities and especially the gender gap, with some papers calling it a she-cession. I am not naive enough to think I Like Networking will solve systemic issues but I hope it can make a dent on those stats and - at large - create a space of collaboration over competition.
There is a huge value in mentoring but I also wanted to address the "who do you know" problem in the sector.
If we can offer more women and underrepresented professionals in the industry the opportunity to connect with decision-makers and get them to positions of power I believe we can do a lot of good.
4. How did your network, and networking as a skill, impact your personal career? Did you personally benefit from mentoring?
I've always had informal mentors and I 100% benefited from it. Working in the creative industries is incredibly hard and as a two-time entrepreneur, I know first hand it can be very lonely. Early on as a producer I learned that who I knew made a lot of difference to get our projects to those who had power to sign-off on that - from sponsors to programmers to the press. I had to put my game face on and go for it. Looking back now I can see how that made me better at engaging with others and even managing teams. But to be honest, I always thought networking was about connecting with people and forging relationships and I truly enjoy that.
5. How will the mentoring program be running this year with the pandemic going on?
Exclusively online like last year! I think the online aspect of it all is actually great because you can connect with mentors from anywhere in the world and I am a big advocate for cross-national learning and breaking down borders.
6. How do you select mentors for the program ? And how do you select mentees? What makes for a good mentor, and for a good mentee?
Mentors can pitch to join the programme and they are also recommended to us or people that we believe have a strong career trajectory and can benefit lots of people, but the most important thing is that they are committed professionals who want to support others in the industry and are able to dedicate the time. Great mentees are proactive - they come ready with questions, prepare short-medium and long-term goals and also dedicate a chunk of time for the mentoring program. The mentees apply directly to work with their preferred mentors - we shortlist them based on how strong their application is with a very democratic and long process with an advisory board and then the mentors themselves decide who they want to work with.
7. Can you name 3 young music business entrepreneurs you think have a bright future ahead of them?
Selina, founder of Luna Legacy, who was our mentee last year is definitely on a very strong path
Nicky Langley, ILN member and founder of MeloCompass is definitely going to be a big player in it as well.
The amazing WomenConnect deserve a shout out as well for their work in the intersection of music x mental health and much more.
8. What do you say to people who tell you it’s impossible to network during a pandemic? Besides your mentoring program, what do you think are good ways to connect with other professionals from the creative industries right now while no physical events are on?
LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. are all social platforms so they are essentially made for connecting with others and that is all networking is. It is definitely not impossible!
Online events are great as well as communities (such as ILN, Found & Flourish etc.) There are TONS to choose from and they will mediate the connections for you so it's another good way to connect.
9. Do you think the current pandemic can lead to positive structural changes in the music industry, and if so how?
I think we are seeing focus on the streaming royalties discussions now due to the pandemic which are vital and I hope that it helps people value the creative industries at large much more now. However, there's already been a massive impact to the industry, venues and independent providers so I don't know if I would call anything positive at this point - a huge recession is probably on the way due to all the government spending; so many people are losing their jobs. We don't know how yet how it will impact actual ticket sales that drive so much of the industry. But we can hope that some good will come out of it all.
10. What are your top 3 ice-breakers phrases or questions when you enter a room (virtual or physical) where you don't know anyone ?
What is the last great thing you watched? What's one pandemic trend you didn't succumb to?
Did you have to cut your own hair yet and, if so, how did that go?
Thanks Isabel, we look forward to taking part in the mentoring program later this year!
Applications for the I Like Networking mentoring program opened on the 22nd March and will close on the 19th April. Click here for a full list of mentors and to keep up to date with the program, and click here to apply!