Networking for Introverts (ESPECIALLY D.I.Y. Rock Stars)! 😬
This post loosely aligns with the ideas in Gab & Jam episodes 192 and 193. If you want to hear the discussion, click those links (when they become live; on 9/27 --https://bit.ly/192networkintrovid and 10/3, respectively). (Subscribe so you won't miss it!)
Here's why...... Networking for introverts (ESPECIALLY D.I.Y. Rock Stars)
As you might imagine, many of us artists consider ourselves introverts. We like to be alone to contemplate our thoughts and prefer to dance to our own rhythm, which often times means shying away from crowds at parties and any other large—or small —events. On top of being introverts, we are also often rebels, who don’t want anybody telling us who we need to be or what we should do. A third layer that might make us averse to networking is that, if you are like me, you’re what we call “reactionary,” and IMMEDIATELY run in the opposite direction of what masses of people are drawn to. These are some of the MAIN reasons that I have shunned the idea of networking for decades; preferring instead to work alone—or ONLY with my partner—ESPECIALLY as I work on our vision. What I have only recently come to understand is that the dreaded “n” word—networking—is a natural outgrowth of expanding our world. And in recent year, where I have started to ONLY work smart and NOT hard, I want to maximize my time and effort in any way possible.
What I mean is that instead of thinking of it as “kowtowing” or sucking up to folks for some unknown advantage that, it’s natural to even be DRAWN to want to talk to folks who you seem to have figured out the next fucking step in this puzzle of getting your venture off the ground. And I have learned that simply having a short chat with folks—virtually or IRL—has helped answer so many fucking questions that previously it would have taken me so long to solve.
And that beyond answering questions, these are the folks that you turn to to share wins with, who can ACTUALLY understand and appreciate what the he’ll you’re talking about! And, as a bonus, these are the folks who have turned to us, sometimes, for the same thing. —Previously, we had never thought that WE could be of help to others, because we hadn’t attained the kind of credentials that others have, but, again, because we are on similar paths, it is natural that we might have done something that they are struggling with and they feel comfortable asking how we did it.
And now, I am NATURALLY nosy—asking about other folks’ processes ALL the time—hoping to figure out some better way to do things. And I will even go out of my way to ask questions—even if it seems prodding—because I can sense there’s an aha moment in there for us. And you know what, it has gotten easier with time.
8 Reasons to Network:
Having said all that, here are 8 reasons for introverts—like us!—to network (and ESPECIALLY D.I.Y. Rock Stars).
1. Understand that networking is just about finding more people like you
2. It’s also about letting as many people as possible know what the fuck you do
3. You WON’T get ANY of the benefits of it UNLESS you start trying to do it.
4. It ISN'T an overnight process. It has taken stepping out here and TRYING some of these strategies for the past 4 years to REALLY feel the impact (and I know we’ve ONLY scratched the surface).
5. Make a commitment to AT LEAST start implementing SOME of these strategies (below) and if in a year, you don’t see any difference, I will eat my hat!
6. Be realistic. Needless to say that it’s MUCH easier to network with those who are less known than those whose names are constantly in the headlines. Start there. Or even more attainable to forge a relationship with are your peers. (It took me THIS long to realize that making friends with folks who are on a similar path to us gave us a ton of support and ideas and opened us up to THEIR people.)
7. This leads me to my next point: Once you meet a few people, you will AUTOMATICALLY connect yourself to THEIR people. It’s like an INSTANT “gift.” In other words, this ONE person will vouch for you with their people, so that more doors will open that you didn’t even have to knock on.
8. You don’t need everybody! You only need people who TRULY vibe with what you’re doing, so DON’T approach everybody; only try these strategies with folks who you admire genuinely—and NOT just because they’re famous 🙄—or because of a specific idea/message/method that they are sharing that you believe in. Those are the folks to put your time and effort into. Because you are an introvert means that you SHOULDN’T bother taking on getting too cozy to everybody; that kind of pursuit will only find you EXHAUSTED and ready to throw in the towel and that’s not what we want for you. 🥰
7 Strategies for networking for introverts:
1. Start with a larger vision
That’s the ONLY way you can figure out ALL the steps after this. ( http://bit.ly/rockstarvision ).
2. Make a list.
Who are some of the folks that you WISH you had any kind of “friendly” relationship with? (For us, it was our peers in this D.I.Y. Rock Star journey and some of those folks a little beyond us, who we thought had figured a few more things out.)
3. Just reach out.
You don’t have anything to lose by reaching out. Here’s my oldest trick—that I started 4 years ago—when folks that I want to know better email me—oh, yeah! Get on their email list, if you can!— I email them back with a personal response to whatever they’re talking about. I also ask at least one question—so as to garner SOME type of response—and then, at the bottom of the email, I include a kick- ass photo of us with one major link along with a list pertinent links at the bottom of the screen (see an example below). When I first tried it, I thought they wouldn’t see it or wouldn’t even care, but you’d be surprised at the number of folks who PERSONALLY respond to me, and even more, sometimes visit our links to find out more about us! It’s been incredible to feel like I am making “friends” with people I have looked up to for the last few years! Of course, it doesn’t ALWAYS work, but it has worked MORE times than not, so…..You’re welcome! 🙌🏾
4. Don’t mind if it doesn’t work.
What I will say is that the MOST important part is that you are figuring out who you are and how you feel comfortable expressing yourself as you write these emails, so even when you DON’T get a response, you are practicing your craft as that’s a good thing. Further, if you got a bad feeling about emailing this person and have decided that they’re NOT a good fit for you, use these lack of responses as your cue to scratch them off your list. You DON'T need everybody (remember?); you only want to attract YOUR people.
5. Never seem needy.
As an introvert, one of the things that I hated about the idea of networking is appearing “needy “ and if you’re like us, you don’t want to ask anyone for anything. What we are saying is don’t ask! In fact, I have NEVER asked any of the people I have reached out to for ANYTHING—not to be in their podcast, not to guest post on their blog, and not to come over and be a part of our various enterprises. I SIMPLY responded to whatever it is they are talking about, dropped a cool graphic at the bottom of the email and some relevant links. There is NO directive for them to go do ANYTHING. In fact, if they choose to check something out, it will be because it is their own choice and NOT because I have asked. I think about it like it’s making friends at a party; you wouldn’t walk right up to someone and ask for something; you SIMPLY want to get to know them. —Don’t get me wrong, though, invariably opportunities open up in their world that you are PERFECT for. And guess who they contact first? You got it! —But NEVER ask! (In fact, they get asked SO much that it immediately turns them off when folks ask.)
6. Be a billboard for yourself.
Wear the merch that advertises what you’re doing. –-Bonus tip: Make sure your t-shirt has a front AND a back graphic, etc. –-By displaying what you’re into, you will give people who are drawn to that a REASON to approach YOU! –-Remember, they’re LIKELY introverts too! –-So, give them an easy opening. (–--True story. At our first South By Southwest conference (http://bit.ly/sxswobservations ), a sitting person behind us at a session told us that he Googled us at the break, because the back of Bruce’s jacket had our logo prominently displayed!)