Power of Networking
by John Ruka, firstname.lastname@example.org
NETWORK: "A group of individuals who interacts around a particular
mutual interest for the benefit of each and all!"
The private, independent instructor is often isolated from others
of like mind, however formal settings encourage networking. Networking
organizations like the Percussive Arts Society, the International
Association of Rudimental Percussionists and Vic Firth's Education
Programs were advanced by foresighted university or corporately-active
teachers, or by percussionists from larger, already-in-place networks
(Drum Corps International, for instance). But, how can the private
instructor tap into networking?
First, take advantage of networking opportunities represented by the
aforementioned groups and others like them. These organizations exist
precisely to share information. Volunteer to serve in some capacity
yourself (I edited the Wisconsin PAS chapter newsletter for a period
of time). Valuable friendships develop this way. Look to the Internet
(PAS has the World Percussion Network at http://www.pas.org,
Locally, joining networking organizations like your local Chamber
of Commerce adds credibility to your enterprise, especially if you
are not working in a store. Your church, your kids' school, even your
band members are loose "networks" to be cultivated, too. Let them
know your passion for teaching and good things will happen!
Now to your most vital networking opportunities...the first is easy:
your student body and their parents! You want to hone your skills
and grow your business. Students and parents are a silent "network"
for business improvement ideas. Seeking advice from customers is not
poor business. If bills are repeatedly late, talk to some trusted
students or parents to find out what you can do to improve your billing
system. They'll be flattered and appreciate you even more! Students
and their parents are also the best "bird dogs". Offer some free lessons
to a student who refers a friend. Talk about your offer to parents,
too, who usually foot the bill; they'll wrack their brains to find
someone in their personal network of neighbors, friends and co-workers
to drop your name on.
The most important home front network to cultivate is also the most
difficult: your so-called "competitors." Rid yourself of the notion
that it's "every man for himself" for private teachers. You can only
teach so many lessons a week—then what? Help one other instructor
across town build his roster and you'll begin to establish a small
network which can carry over into the pooling of students for concerts;
running big field trips; bringing in major clinicians; and much, much
more! That translates into more bucks in the bank for both of you
because, as amenities increase, so does the perceived value of your
lessons. You and your "competitor" can congratulate each other for
having the moxie to network! Everybody wins!
The ultimate is a real networking organization like the Drum Instructors'
Guild. We are stunned by our accomplishments, sharing not only teaching
ideas and references, but also building stable futures by tackling
tax issues, career development, financial planning and other concerns
of the private independent. This is networking for the 21st Century
--- a brighter tomorrow!
Comments? Send the author an email!