The Introvert in Me & My Art [Part I]

wellness Jan 02, 2018

By Dr. Yanina Gomez

“Yes, I know that networking and making connections are important in the art world! Guess what? I’m an introvert person and social situations can easily overwhelm me. I prefer quietness and minimally stimulating environments.”

Does this resonate with you?

Are you more reflective, observant, cautious and highly in tune with your internal dynamics? Do you prefer quietness, minimally stimulating environments and perhaps social events are really not your preference?

Drive comes in various ways and one way isn’t better than the other. To some, drive emerges during solitude and self-reflection whereas others prefer a go-getter approach. You might prefer to work alone because you can focus better whereas others perform better when they share ideas and collaborate with others.

If you consider yourself a driven introvert artist, let me share with you a few suggestions to effectively navigate through social situations (networking, openings, etc.). In the second part of this post, I’ll be sharing some tips to help you prepare yourself for Artist Talks. So, make sure you check it out!

Let’s start with Networking Events!

1. Set a Social Event Attendance Goal.
Decide the number of social events you will attend each month. Be realistic! If social situations really cause you stress, then start with one per month. Effective networking is not about the number of people you meet. Rather, it’s about the meaningful connections you make. And you know that, one meaningful connection has the potential to completely transform your art career. Once you decide the number of events you will attend each month or quarterly, plan accordingly. As you set realistic goals and schedule your events before hand, unnecessary feelings of guilt will diminish and you will have a sense of accomplishment.

2. Focus on connecting with one or two persons.
As you know, you don’t need to introduce yourself to every person attending the event. Your focus is on meaningful outcomes not quantity. If you attend with a friend, ask if she/he can do the introductions. Although this can be perceive as common sense, if someone is making you uncomfortable there’s no need to continue the conversation. As we grow up, our parents worked very hard on instilling good manners in us. Maybe you were taught that it is impolite to cut off people’s conversations. I think that, what makes it impolite is to cut off conversations rudely.

There’s no reason why you should put up with someone who’s making you uncomfortable just because you don’t want to be rude. If your mind freezes and you’re feeling uncomfortable simply excuse yourself, walk away, take a break and re-join the crowd when you’re ready (if you’re ready!). On the same token, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, graciously exit the event. It’s OK! You don’t need to stay through the entire event.

3. Prepare a mental social script or outline.
Although it might feel awkward initially, preparing a mental social script or outline can be useful. That is, coming up with a few questions, sentence starters and conversation lines relevant to the crowd. Think about topics that hold common interest. For instance, have on your script or outline a list of open ended questions like:

“What type of art do you prefer to collect? Why? Tell me about your art? How did you meet so and so? What do you usually do for entertainment?

Also, have under your sleeve a few sentence starters such as…

“I’m not familiar with this part of the city… I wonder if there’s a good restaurant/bar/theatre around here…  Introduce current events like “I read about the new Star Wars museum opening in Chicago…” – you get my point.
Be mindful about the topic as you don’t want to start a new revolution.Let others lead the conversation.

4. Don’t fall for these two myths.
The more social events I attend, the more successful networker, hence, artist I will be. You can attend tons of events, end up hanging out with your buddies yet making zero new connections. Does this make you a better networker? Absolutely not!
The more connections I make, the more successful networker, hence, artist I will be. It’s not about the quantity but rather the quality of connections you make. It takes one meaningful connection to burst your art career.
In the second part of this post, I will be sharing with you a few suggestions on how to facilitate Artists Talks, stay calm and in control. Stay tuned!

Do you have a strategy that has worked for you to ease the stress that comes with attending social situations?

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