How can an introverted performer manage all the necessary networking?

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An introverted musician would like some advice on how to do the necessary mingling and networking that fans and others expect:

I’m a musician, among many things. Since I was a teenager, I constantly felt compelled to be extremely sociable so that people would like me and approve of me (I was bullied otherwise, and certain family members were constantly trying to make me be more sociable). As a musician, I run into this problem especially after performing. People expect you to want to talk to them, and they are offended if you don’t. Musicians are advised to network. This just doesn’t work for introverts! As a result, I’ve been regarded as either a) not serious about being a musician and wishy-washy or b) snobbish or antisocial.

Have any other introvert musicians experienced this? And how do you cope?

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35 Comments

  1. I feel your pain. I’m also very introverted and during my years in high school orchestra, I always felt out of the loop even though I was in a room full of people. To top that off, I was second chair in the orchestra, but I always felt that people didn’t really want to talk to me. It’s not like I wanted to talk to them, but I always had this feeling that everyone else kept a distance from me. I don’t know why they would, but I’m pretty sure of it. I barely had any friends in that orchestra.
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  2. I can relate to what you are saying. I use to play the cello all throughout high school and after any performance, I wouldn’t feel any drive to want to socialize with anyone, all I could think about was going home and relaxing by myself. People thought I was either really stuck up or anti-social. How did I cope with it? After a while I just stopped caring what people thought. Those who knew me well knew I was just a quiet person by nature and understood.

    If you’re performing solo then the best advice I can give you is make an excuse to leave shortly after meeting people for a few min. So that way you can thank them for showing up, let them know about you’re next performance and then make it look like you’re on a very busy schedule. (It definitely might just work out in you’re favor)

  3. This is a very interesting blog.. Not all people understand the situation of being introvert.. You have to avoid being ignorant and start to mingle a lot..
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  4. I understand your dilemma, it is very hard since your mind is making you avoid people around you. I know that deep in your heart you want to mingle with your audiences… Maybe you should start to at least wave to your listeners before getting out from stage. Through that way, they will not consider you a snob even if you hide from them after the performance. I hope you will recover from being introvert. The world is beautiful, try to mingle with friends and see the beauty of meeting new friends.
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    • You do not need to “recover from being an introvert. An introvert’s personality and preferences deserv the same respect that an extravert’s does.

      • Thanks for saying that introverts do not need to recover. I am just now embracing who I am as an introvert. I’m tired of pushy people, extreme extroverts, the gossipers and busy bodies as well as the busy bees who can’t seem to settle down! I remember a co-worker saying, when she got a boyfriend, that now she had someone to go out with. I looked at her like she was crazy and said, now that I’m married, I don’t have to go out anymore! Halelluyah!

  5. Totally with you here. As a solo musician it is something I come up against every time I gig. I have come to almost accept it as a part of the ‘show’, meeting people afterwards – pushed on seriously by the need to sell merch! I generally use my journey home as a treat toward which I am aiming, and find that I can just grit my teeth and carry on performing before this point, then the drive home I can relax. I never used to stick around but I think it makes such a difference and despite the fact that I hate it I always feel like I have earned that trip home much more than when I would just leave – I’d feel annoyed at myself for the whole trip home.

  6. I have this favorite local band whose vocalist is really an amazing singer. He is very handsome in such a mysterious way. When he’s on stage, he owns it, he is really a performer and he DOESN’T talk to his audience. But the audience go wild when he sings. I guess the mystery works for him and his legion of fans although he’s kind of introvert. But yes, talking to the audience would mean more interaction and that’s what most people like. 🙂
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    • I know what you mean – I think there is definitely room for this within a band context because there are others to do the work. I don’t think it’s necessarily about what most people like, rather it is what is required in order to become memorable to people in a personal way. I have seen a huge number of bands with mysterious and fascinating front men, but have forgotten about most of them, only remembering the ones who make that personal connection with me. Hope that makes sense! Just as long as there are people to be the approachable face of the band afterwards I think there is room for that aloof character, but it is necessary.

  7. I really practice socializing because it is my way of connecting with my audience. I used to be an introvert as well and music played a big part on this shall I say cure for my introversion. You will just have to control and try to do it. You won’t lose anything if you just try it.

    • Introversion is not something to be ‘cured’, it is a pretty much unchangeable part of one’s character. From what you say it sounds more like a shyness or something that you have overcome by performing and socialising in this context, and fair play for being able to do it. But don’t confuse the two. It is not a helpful attitude to think that introverts can be ‘cured’ and that somehow it is a less than proper type of temperament. I have written about this here: http://atlumschema.com/atlumschema/the-introvert-not-weird-just-normal/

      • You said it pal. Introversion is not a disease or a disorder. I think playing an instrument is a good way to overcome it. You can’t escape socializing and mingling with people especially if your a musician. Good luck in your endeavor and may you succeed in your career 🙂

    • Often it seems that way but really we can be happy to talk – it’s hard, especially after a performance to be approachable because you don’t want to assume that someone has enjoyed it. I don’t know if other musicians can relate to this.

  8. I am a (introverted) musician myself and I feel your concerns with my skin. I suffer a lot from jamming especially the insensitive ones. Anyways.
    Maybe you may have a more extroverted friend who is sensitive enough to recognize your talent yet having wide network. He/she can be the bridge between you and other great musicians. Once they trust what you are doing is valuable so that they can commit to your project, you can establish your music with them while having more time to get to know and be familiar each other.
    Hope it suits your situation though!

  9. Yeah….it’s very hard…..I am a songwriter/composer, but haven’t published anything yet cause I’m very introverted and just the thought about people knowing who I am is terrifying! I also wonder how can one deal with it!

  10. I have to say I agree with Mika. And the general arguments seem to range from “introversion is a disease that one can make a choice to cure” (lol) to “I am an introvert and I love music and I don’t think I should be required to speak if I speak directly through my passion” and the thing that I’ve been coming up with matches what Mika said. “Being an introvert musician is not a big deal. Just convey with your music, that’s all you have to do. Even without words, music can speak through everyone if you have the passion for it “. I completely agree, that way you can be yourself, and being authentically you makes you far more intriguing than does pandering due to fear of social prejudices and ignorance, criticism or any other social reaction drawn from stigma. Don’t pander! Being comfortable is important when being a performer. Most people find it much easier to like you if you like yourself and are comfortable with you. You set the first example of how people treat you. Be yourself. You will find when you love you, others follow that trend. Speak if you want to speak, when you have something to say. Just speaking to fill the gap leads people to believe you will do that all the time when all it does is de-energize you and potentially build resentment or annoyance within you. Don’t forget that people can’t read your mind, you have to be the judge of when to speak it freely. Is this too much? I just want to cover all the bases, I’ve been a musician for about a decade, but performing is WAY easier when you just come from the heart, and any kind of deviation, or saying what you don’t mean may come out as cheesy or trite. Hopefully this sheds some light on the arguments at hand. Alright I spent 30 minutes writing this and I have to post it now, if anyone gains anything from this – take away be yourself and be comfortable being yourself. People tend to expect less of you on that end when you’re fine with how you are.

  11. Fear has a lot to do with it – perceptions of what others will think of us. As introverts, we create scenarios that are probably way off base. Frankly, I think being yourself is great advise, as hard as it is . It’s our tendency to try and hide who we are because we draw our energy from within (and there’s nothing wrong with that, btw) – so, to talk to people afterwards about the expression we just let out on stage is terrifying. For me, the bottom line is this: I want to sing. I want to sing loud and with all that I have – I have to sing. If I don’t, then something is missing from my life. But that’s it – I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to hear anyone’s opinion – I JUST want to sing. But unfortunately, if you want to “get anywhere” in the music industry, the odds are, you have to network. So, I feel you, but I don’t know what to do about it. I think you just have make yourself do it.

    When you think about it – as an artist, there’s nothing more your fans can expect than for you to be yourself. People know when you’re being real. And, they already like you. Or they don’t – and if that’s the case, they’re probably not the ones who want to talk to you after.

    Some practical tips would be positive self talk – Remind yourself that there’s a 90% chance they’re going to complement you. Beforehand, think up a go-to backup topic in case the conversation dies awkwardly, lol (maybe a few). I’ve actually found that taking a Valerian root capsule is very helpful in the way of calming me down so that my mind is able to focus on being less anxious around people (they also make it in a tea). It doesn’t work for everyone. Chamomile tea…any of those natural calming methods.

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