How to Network in the Arts as an Introvert

I am an Introvert. This doesn’t mean I don’t like people, of course, on the contary, I find people fascinating, and as I mentioned in my post on what motivates me to be interested in production, I explained that discussion and asking and raising and exploring questions, with other people, through the most exciting medium I know, is at the core of what motivates me. What it does mean, however, is that I can find human interaction, especially with big groups of people, or people I don’t know well, or, worse, big groups of people I don’t know well, a bit tiring and draining (this manifests itself, for me, in tiredness, in thr sense of physical fatigue -as if I’d done exercise- and, in its worst instances, I can feel stressed and/or panicked). 

None of this means that I don’t find networking, which is the scenario in which I find myself most under pressure, very useful, or that I don’t know how valuable it can be, or even that I don’t enjoy it. It just means that I have to find good ways to be able to make the most of networking opportunities, while taking care of myself.

Having read Susan Cain’s book Quiet (I have not been sponsored, and will get nothing from you purchasing this book, but I still can’t recommend it enough – whoever you are, it will help you understand all sorts of other people), I know that approximately 30% of the population is introverted – here is some advice for you, learned by me. Even if you feel yourself to be more extroverted, I hope you find something valuable here too.

1. Remember to take breaks

If you find continuous talking to people and ‘selling yourself/your skills’ to them tiring, taking even five minutes to recharge is invaluable. I personally use the toilet break technique for this – everyone needs to go to the bathroom once in a while, so if you sense your energy flagging, excuse yourself, sit in a cubicle for five minutes, focusing on relaxing, and then go back.

If it’s a several day, or weeks long networking opportunity, like an internship, this is what your lunch break is for. Make the most of it!!

2. Try to get yourself in situations which are easier, if it is possible

Talk to one or two individuals at a time in small groups, if you can, rather than standing silently and stressed in a large group. This has the double advantage of making a couple of genuine connections, rather than a very surface/positively unmemorable impression on a larger number of people, and of enabling me at least, to feel much more comfortable in talking and expressing my own opinions in discussion.

3. If you can’t do 2 because of the set up, be gentle with yourself

Being gentle with yourself can mean different things in this scenario. It may mean not feeling guilty if you don’t talk as much as you could, because it’s difficult; that happens and it’s okay. It may also mean forcing yourself far out of your comfort zone, but allowing yourself rest afterwards (or several breaks, see 1). If I can, I try to do the latter, talk to big groups if that is the only option, and be careful not to over exhaust myself in so doing, by making the most of the breaks I get, and deliberately taking time before and after so I have as much ‘social interaction energy’ to use for this kind of scenario as possible. And sometimes I run out, and don’t say things which might have been an interesting contribution. But that isnt the end of the world. I just have to pick myself up and try again.

That’s all for this week, thanks as always for reading, and feel free to like this post if you enjoyed it, comment with your thoughts or questions, and follow the blog if you haven’t done so already and are interested in reading more. I’ll be back on Friday with an update about Week 6 at Fuel. I’ve already done half of my internship, how crazy is that? Time flies…

Emily xxx

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9 comments

  1. Sound avice. I would take a bet that most bloggers here tend towards the introverted end of the scale. We find probably find it much easier to write than talk, and we have probably spent more time on self-questioning in our youth, if we tended to spend more time alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. 🙂 Haha, I definitely find communicating in writing much easier than speaking, and I enjoy both self-questioning and alone time! But occasionally I need to use the phone rather than email, or have meetings in person, and this is what I do then; I hope it will be useful to readers.

      I agree that most bloggers tend towards introversion, and I’ve found, somewhat to my surprise, that a lot of people who work in theatre are also relatively introverted. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Emily.

    Je n’avais jamais entendu parler de Susan CAIN. En te lisant j’ai éprouvé la curiosité d’en savoir un peu plus sur elle. J’ai regardé sur internet.

    Je trouve ses idées particulièrement intéressantes.

    Merci de nous en avoir parlé.

    Merci pour la façon dont tu en parles.

    Je t’embrasse.

    Grand-père

    De : Emily Baycroft
    Envoyé : ‎dimanche‎ ‎28‎ ‎août‎ ‎2016 ‎20‎:‎56
    À : gerard.anne@wanadoo.fr

    WordPress.com
    emilybaycroft posted: “I am an Introvert. This doesn’t mean I don’t like people, of course, on the contary, I find people fascinating, and as I mentioned in my post on what motivates me to be interested in production, I explained that discussion and asking and raising and explo”

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  3. […] This is obviously a broad concept. It includes listening to the discussion going on in the office around you, to pick up on what sorts of issues can come up in the development process of a production and/or find out about other people in the industry and what is happening in other places. It includes going to as many of the events you are invited to as you possibly can, because going to see work you are invited to is networking, as well as getting to see incredible theatre (which you should strive to see as much of as possible, when interning and when not interning). Essentially, even if something feels a little bit difficult, or like you are putting yourself out there more than feels comfortable (and believe me, I know how that feels!) you should try to do as much as you can, without actually damaging your mental health, which would obviously be counter-productive. Remember that you are only interning for a short amount of time, so even if it feels like you are pushing yourself well beyond your comfort zone, you will hopefully have time afterwards, whatever you may be doing afterwards, to take extra care of yourself in compensation. In my case, that meant I let myself off a couple of evenings at university where I might have enjoyed going out, but I kind of just wanted to stay in and watch a film or something, and so I didn’t go out and I didn’t let myself feel guilty or worry myself with FOMO, I just chilled out at home. (For more advice on how to handle pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone without damaging your mental health, see my post on how to network in the arts as an introvert.) […]

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