I’ve been part of a group of people taking a course called Connect With Anyone (CWA) which is about connecting with people on a genuine level (some call it ‘anti-networking’ 😉 in order to create a network of support around you. Support for doing the work that you love, that you’re passionate about…or as I like to say it—what I was put here to do.
Unfortunately, I’m one of their worst students–I took the class last fall and only did the class work, not any of the lab/practical application work (they call those Connection Actions). Those Connection Actions are the most important part of the class IMHO.
And yet, and yet. I didn’t totally, totally fail. If nothing else the class brought home the point that this stuff is important…VERY important.
So, at the beginning of the summer, I made the decision to go to as many jam sessions as I could in this area (jam sessions are sort of musician networking events—in this case the meeting is as much through what you play onstage, as what you say to the folks that you meet before and after).
I had gone to jam sessions in the past, but I had been a sporadic attendee—might go one week, then not again for weeks or months. Didn’t do much to try and connect with people when I was there and, not surprisingly, I didn’t get much out of attending.
This summer, I went about things differently. I picked a few, select jam sessions that were well-run, and had a lot of great musicians attending, and I went to them as often as I could, trying for at least 1-2 per week. My goal was to get more playing gigs (this wasn’t focused on the teaching side of my business).
Nothing I did at these sessions was outstanding in terms of the CWA coursework—no brilliant techniques were employed that I had learned from them. Except one—I went and I kept on going. As I kept on attending throughout the summer, lo and behold, people started to recognize me, started to recognize what kind of drummer I was–what I did onstage. And actually, there was one more technique I did employ—I tried to hand out and get business cards as much as I could (this is kinda rare for musicians, so I brought a post-it pad with me to get contact info for the >50% of musicians at the jams who didn’t have a business card 😉
But really, I was doing nothing groundbreaking other than just freakin’ showing up, handing out and asking for business cards. And–trying to be genuine. One of my mentors in LA said this, “that networking stuff–do it, but don’t seem like you’re doing it” (which I took to mean, ‘don’t be fake’).
So then, we’re now at the point in this post where it might feel to you like it’s groundhog day—‘Miguel keeps saying he didn’t use any of the tricks from the CWA course, but there’s like a bunch of things he’s talking about here—what’s up?’
And yeah, you’re right. It’s like that classic moment in the Monty Python “Spanish Inquisition” sketch:
Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope…. Our four…no… amongst our weapons…. amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again. (exit and exeunt)
So then…it turns out that I may have learned more than I thought in the CWA class. So far we have:
- Show up and keep showing up
- Handing out and asking for business cards
- Bring post-its for folks who don’t have their own cards
- Being genuine
- Don’t be afraid to be yourself—let your freak flag fly as many of my musician friends would say (this makes my playing and conversation much more memorable; I don’t sound like other drummers, or for that matter, anyone else, not when I’m truly, genuinely being myself)
Good lord—there’s no end to it!
Our four…no… amongst our weapons…. amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.
But seriously, I want you to know that I started writing this post convinced that I was the CWA’s worst student, and that I hadn’t retained any of the material, and I had NO IDEA what I was doing as I started going to these jam sessions. And now there’s five pretty darn important things I’m doing that were either reinforced or taught to me by the CWA course. Shows what I know…
So, for me, the big learning here is this: Get out there. Do some thing. Don’t wait until you feel 100% ready—you’ll never feel 100% ready. Just…Get out there. Do it. Now.
P.S. What’s the most wonderful part of this CWA course? I’m a member of the class—and the greater Live Your Legend (LYL) community–for life (yes, for life), and I get to have a ‘do-over’ with having to pay for the course again. Which I’m doing right now as we speak.
P.P.S. Oh, and last week I got offers for gigs from three (count ‘em—three) different band leaders that I met at these jam sessions. I only feel bad that I haven’t been to a jam since as I’ve been cramming to get ready to start gigging with three different bands.
P.P.P.S. See? This stuff works…even when you ‘don’t know’ what you’re doing.