The art of navigating the Social Matrix and the POWER of networking in the Marching Arts!

I would have to say that networking is not a strong suit of Marching Percussionists.  I mean, that makes sense; we learn about music, dynamics, flams, not coming in early on the first left diddle, high attention to detail, etc. and not how to make friends out of complete strangers for the purposes of creating new friendships and possible working opportunities down the road. 

I think it's fair to say that navigating through the Social Matrix is not high on the priority list in the marching arts.

Heck, this isn't something we're taught in School either. 

For example, a class on how to make friends with anybody could be seen as silly or even counter-intuitive.  After all, shouldn't you have these skill already?

Well, consider the downsides of not having a fully developed sense of social intelligence:

- It's harder to become a leader within your Band and affect change in a positive way

- You'll find it challenging to get other other people to drum with you or have more experienced players tech you some tips and trips

- When it comes time to get some teaching gigs after high school, you'll find it rather difficult to get Band Directors to hire you when they don't know you

Now of course, some people naturally have these abilities.  Also, if you march many types of groups or independent ensembles, if you have a good basic sense of how to make friends, you'll make connections that could possibly lead to some interesting opportunities for you in the future.  But let's say you have very limited social skills and would like to know some basic concepts you can implement right away when meeting someone new (whether that's in your Band or even Students from other Bands).  Well, you're in luck as I have a few things you can try to implement right away:

- Give the other person value when they meet you.  It can be something simple as giving a compliment or being so fun and positive that the other person wants to be around you more

- Find common ground with each other so you can relate with each other and then enthusiastically enjoy engaging in conversation about something all parties are interested in talking about.

- Get their number! Tell the other person that you enjoyed speaking to them so much that you'd love to talk to them again in the future: get their phone number, email, social media, etc. and keep the communication lines open long after you have met.

What do you think?  Do you struggle with networking? Do you see the potential of networking in our activity? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Karl Arrieta