Networking is all about creating connections. Most of which come from meaningful conversations with professionals, colleagues, teachers, and others.
A large part of becoming a musician is simply answering questions about who you are and what it is you do. Aaand, since you don’t fit the mold for a typical career path, you can expect the questions to get super personal, super fast. If you’re an introvert like me, something as simple as having a conversation can be a daunting task – and it takes on a whole new level when it starts to hit the more personal notes.
I’ll be the first to admit – my anxiety has tanked plenty of conversations that have centered on who I am and what I am doing with music. The reason why was simple: I lacked confidence. It was hard for me to declare my life’s passion or life’s work to a stranger, or even a close colleague. Especially during the times in my life when I was trying to figure it all out for myself.
Fortunately, there is a way to ease this burden for yourself. And although it may not be an easy practice- the rewards are 100% worth it. In order to ooze confidence, you have to know who you are before you are ever asked the questions. This means that you have to dig deep and ask yourself these tough questions:
“Who are you? What do you like to do? What do you want to do with music? What is your dream career? What got you into music? Why did you decide to get a degree in it (or not get a degree in it)? What kind of music do you want to write/perform?”
It also doesn’t hurt to be prepared for the more surface level questions like:
“Who are your favorite composers? What is your favorite work? Who are you currently studying? Why are you interested in their work? Why are you at this event? What are you hoping to gain from the experience? What are you currently working on? What instrument do you play?”
Once you have your answers, the next step to gaining confidence is to practice saying these answers out loud. It’s as simple as that. Speak to your cat, your dog, your roommate, your parents. Get really good at saying who you are, what your dreams are, and what you’re working on. Even if you’re not sure if you believe it yet – get really good at faking that you do. (The only one that will know any better is you.)
When you can answer questions with confidence, you can network with *slightly less* discomfort. (I know the introverted agony of talking to others will always be there.)
Need something to build off of?
Currently if asked, “Who are you and what do you do?”, I would say this:
“My name is Hillary and I am a composer of contemporary classical music. I am researching spectral composition and practical applications to modern vocal works. I work full time as an administrative assistant and I compose music on the side. I am also a mental health advocate and run a blog for musicians.”
In my undergrad it would’ve said something closer to this:
“My name is Hillary and I am a music composer. I am studying composition with P-Dubs and I am learning techniques for vocal composition. My favorite composer is Charles Ives. I am fascinated by the poly textures and abrasive attitude in his work. I study voice with C-James and I am currently working on a set by Aaron Copland.”
Be confident. Be proud. But most importantly, be yourself.