‘Networking’ sounds like you’re walking around Wall Street in 1991 with an enormous cell phone. I would eliminate the word from your vocabulary.
Build real relationships with people. Don’t treat them as a stepping stone to personal glory. Can we replace ‘network’ with ‘friends’?
‘It’s not what you know, It’s who you know’. – Anon.
It’s hard to pinpoint where that saying comes from. But it’s been around for a hundred years at least. It applies in any industry, especially in music. Let’s face it, most gigs are word of mouth. Most people start playing music with their friends.
It’s even crucial with a cattle call audition. Let’s imagine you are in the league of players who might get an audition for Toto. All things are equal between you and the other drummers, but when you walk in the room Leland Sklar jumps up and yells ‘YEAH MAN, HAVEN’T SEEN YOU FOR AGES!!!’. Well that’s an enormous competitive advantage. And it had nothing to do with your four-way independence.
It’s really easy to see through people when they want something from you. Instead of going out to suck people dry you can ask yourself the following…
What am I offering people? Am i genuine? Am i a good hang?
You aren’t going to get flooded with calls if you are a terrific player and a first class a** hole. Honestly, it doesn’t happen. You would be better served doing some self improvement instead of singles practise in that case.
Also, be realistic. If you’re a bedroom drummer and trying to become friends with JR Robinson by tagging him in facebook posts or sending him long emails about how good you are… just forget it. You are white noise. You are not adding value, you are a headache.
Great players are usually very humble. They don’t go around telling everyone how brilliant they are. It screams insecure and amateur to mouth off about your abilities. People can tell within a bar if you can play or not. Let your playing do the big talking.
On my previous post i relayed a very awkward situation involving a confident but clueless self promoter who wanted his 15 minutes. How about this as an alternate scenario for my dear critic who asked me to ‘step aside’. This type of casual and friendly approach will also work for a new drummer in town trying to get some traction…
Punter: Hey man that was a great set!
Me: Oh thanks a lot!
Punter: Wow, nice kit too.
Me: What kind of kit do you play?
Punter: I don’t have a kit here, i’m new in town. I don’t know anyone… but i’m hoping to start gigging soon.
Me: Well i’m teaching at my studio tomorrow, Do you wanna come down?
Punter: What time do you break?
Punter: Can i buy you a coffee and meet up then?
Punter: I’m happy to pay you your hourly rate for a chat and lowdown on the scene here over lunch.
Me: It’s a date… No need to pay me.
Boom! Done. It’s not difficult.
A little bit of class goes a long way. And so does humility.
Play the long game. Don’t rush. Don’t be a dick. Treat everyone the same. Be real. Be cool.
Same would go for me in that exchange. I’m never going to dismiss anyone who approaches me respectfully. And for all i know this person could be a fantastic drummer who ends up helping me in the future. What goes around, comes around.
If you feel your drumming is hot and your ‘game’ is not, i recommend starting with the book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People‘ by Dale Carnegie.
It has sold 30 million copies and counting since 1936 for a reason. The book contains simple and universal human truths. Don’t worry about the term ‘Influence’, the book is only manipulative if you are that way inclined. There is no harm in understanding how people work and no shame in improving yourself. Think of the book as a reset button. It’s a great wake up call.
All the best!