Also, I'm kind of terrible at it. At one point, I would have considered this a point of pride, part of my romanticized self-image as a cowgirl who doesn't need no help from nobody, an authentic independent spirit who doesn't play by the rules, etc., etc., add your own image here. Trying to make a life as an artist and freelancing as an editor to pay the rent has turned that attitude around right away. But I'm starting to realize that networking is not only necessary, it's also really very satisfying, even for an introvert like me. Here's why:
- Every single thing that I do works better if there is someone else involved. I don't always need collaborators, but I do need other humans be present and occasionally listening to help me keep myself on track and give the work a life outside my own head.
- Helping to connect people is really very satisfying. Seriously, it's fun to help! Especially when I'm helping more than one person at once and with very little effort on my part! Having a network means that I can sometimes be that connector when someone needs a hand. And it reminds me that it's ok for me to ask other people for help too. They usually don't mind at all.
- I know amazing people who are doing some damn cool things. Going out into the world and talking to them about what they're passionate about isn't a chore--it's a privilege!
Listen, I'm still not great at this networking thing. I'm awkward and kind of shy in most social situations. For me, talking to strangers, and thinking of myself as someone who has something of value to offer them, will probably never come naturally to me. But I'm working on it because I'm learning to see it as more than a necessary evil.