1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.
2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.
4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.
8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.
(from 23 Signs You're Secretly An Introvert)
I used to think something was wrong with me. I didn't understand why all my friends just wanted to be together day and night and I always wanted to go home shortly after arriving. I didn't understand why people loved jammed packed concerts and house parties. I prefer being in an intimate group setting, and I definitely prefer being the one on stage rather than the one crammed in the audience. I used to think I was alone in this, but thanks to the world of the internet and buzz feed, I found that I'm not the only one who feels this way! While that revelation is positive, the negative is that the list above is what you're "supposed" to be good at to make it in the music business.
I never heard the word "networking" thrown around so much before I moved to Nashville. When I arrived here, that's all anyone would say when they gave me advice. People would say, "You need to be out every night networking and meeting new people! Network at shows every chance you get! Take as many meetings as you can!" And I would think..well...that would be nice and all...if I wasn't so introverted!
The thought of randomly approaching someone I've never met and making small talk makes me want to cry in a corner. Not to mention my inner monologue is always planning the best possible response to give someone and I overthink everything--so, can't I just hand them a well-crafted note?! Another issue I've come across is that I've always valued the quality of relationship over quantity. When I talk to someone, I want to get to know them. When you're in a networking situation at a loud crowded bar, it's hard to get to know someone when you're yelling over the loud music that's playing.
They saying in Nashville goes, "it's all about who you know." But what about just the pure quality of your work? What happened to the days of the quiet and remote musician who was really awkward in person but made extremely great music? Bob Dylan? Jimi Hendrix?
So although I think networking is a valuable tool for those who excel at it, I have had to learn to accept the things that are. I could make myself go to event after event, small talk, and scan the room looking for important people. Or, I could do what I know best, and just get to know one person at a time. At least for me, this is a much more meaningful relationship. I don't want to use people to get to the top. I want to get to know people and find out their aspirations. If they can help me, then great. But if not, then I've made a genuine friend. And in the end, I think I'd rather be the person I was meant to be, than be someone else.
Sometimes I think I'm crazy. But sometimes, I think I know exactly what I'm doing.