To the person whose eyes choose to read these sentences,
Greetings. You may or may not know some small piece of the “creative me” via prior posts on this website as you give these current words a scan. At this point its more likely the latter as I’ve been absent since last year, AKA the start of pandemic times.
A combination of slow recovery from right wrist surgery, the changing of the world amid COVID, and a mix of so many of my anxieties kept me far from the computer; glued instead to the undersides of blankets and mind-blanketing side hustles. Fears… they don’t easily go back in the box when life changes radically. At least in my experience.
But I’m not here to magically say I’m better from those wounds now and have returned to become 100% myself again either. Its more a “one situation at a time” kind of vibe where some moments outweigh handling others during a pandemic. I will however say in these currently backward days that seem so unfit to be called something as futuristic-sounding as 2021, it feels wrong to allow time to win and freely pass while only being able to lay in the fetal position staring at its back as it gradually fades away.
So while I can’t perhaps provide the exact essentials many folks need right now, I’m still a writer here to entertain with creativity when I’m able to do so. And I can still do what I’ve always loved best: supporting musicians who just need a signal boost and a voice to listen and help spread the word. Sometimes the best thing we can do as humans (virus or no virus) is to give each other a hand up.
And better to do it sooner rather than later, because most of all we know is finite. The full name for this site (On The Back Edge of the Beat) came from singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle and a random piece of stage banter I happened to see of his on Youtube that ultimately inspired the title. That was all it took to start this project, and as small as it is I’ve always been thankful to JTE for that idea lightbulb.
Sadly, we lost Justin in August 2020 at only age 38. I haven’t had the words to describe how that’s felt since I learned it happened, other than I miss him and I wish it hadn’t had to occur of course. Especially for the sake of his wife and young daughter.
Moments like that have made me realize that its okay to slow down during these times, preserve strength and heal your wounds. However, you can’t just stop the car and hide because that’s easier than life’s potential fortune of possible cruelty. That’s a lesson I’m still working out on the days it feels easier to just be sad or depressed, but I plan to return to do what I do best on this site again, with a small tweak.
I’m now changing the email for all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Its a more direct means of contact that’s easier to handle right now.
Hopefully this is just the start of more to come in the days to follow.
Since I first started this website as one of several small outlets for my creative efforts, I never imagined it growing to the point of having guests to come write alongside of me. But I’m proud to say we’ve reached that moment, and in my opinion it couldn’t be on a more appropriate discussion.
Angela Mastrogiacomo’s topic of introverts networking in the music industry and beyond is basically my life. Often it’s not easy to feel like an inward person in a field that’s so “public”, but you have to find the best strategies to help figure it out for the overall good of the career you want to find for yourself. Otherwise it makes climbing the hill that much harder, no matter what your profession is.
And as much as I like putting the microscope on the musicians I cover here on OTBEOTB, sometimes it’s just as intriguing to turn the lens the other way and expose the writer’s vulnerability as well.
I struggle with mastering these elements to this day, so I really recommend giving this piece a read. I know I plan on using plenty of these strategies myself! Now lets turn the floor over to Angela…
Talking to people is hard. I know it shouldn’t be, but for an introvert, simply talking to someone you don’t know, forcing conversation, having to think about what comes out of your mouth, can completely drain you to the point of exhaustion.
I envy the born extrovert who can bounce from conversation to conversation and feel energized by it instead of depleted.
But in the music industry especially, who you know is everything, and you can’t exactly build a network if you don’t talk to people. Which is why I knew when I started my business that if this was something I really wanted, I was going to have to make it work.
So I did what I always do—I made a plan.
I figured out how I could make networking work for me, and then I got out there and I tested it over and over until I found a series of strategies that worked. Now, I want you to take them for a spin.
I know getting out there as an introvert is hard. You want to build your career, you want to grow your community, and you want to connect, but sometimes it just feels totally overwhelming and you have no idea where to start.
This is where these strategies come in. Next time you’re about to head off to a networking event, review this quick list of strategies and see what works for you—you might be surprised!
Prepare a few topics
Trust me on this—if you’re not a natural conversationalist, prepare a few generic topics ahead of time to use once you get to the event. For instance, if it’s a general mixer for musicians and industry, a few of the topics could be “how did you get into the music industry” or “what brought you to (this city)” or “how did you get involved with (this group)?”
Just a couple get to know you questions can be enough to get you started, help you feel confident and prepared, and give you enough room to start a conversation, and then continue to build on it based on their answers.
This brings me to my next point—always listen intently to what the other person is saying. Not only because it’s rude not to, but because if you’re nervous about keeping the conversation going, a great way to make sure it doesn’t die is by listening to what the other person is saying, and following up on it with another question.
For example, if they say they came to the city for work but joke they stayed because of the food, you could follow up “I know, this city has the best food! My favorite place right now is X, but I’ve really been craving Mexican food. Any favorites?”
Bring a friend
I still remember my very first networking event. I was terrified and uncomfortable and my inclination was to just to stand in a corner and not talk to anyone. Thankfully, I’d thought ahead to bring a friend and it made all the difference.
While you don’t want to use your friend as a crutch, they can be a powerful tool for helping you work the room, especially if they’re more extroverted. It’ll give you the confidence to have someone you know and trust there, and it’ll take some of the pressure off.
Set a time limit
One thing that really helps me is setting a time limit. If it’s a 4-hour event, that doesn’t mean you need to go for 4-hours. Give yourself a time frame so that you know when that time is up, you’re free to go home and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
I’d recommend going about an hour into when the event has started, and setting your timer for whatever you’re comfortable with—but aim for at least 45 minutes.
The best part about a networking event is in the days and weeks after. Once you’ve made the connection in person, and grabbed their IG handle or email, then you can be sure to keep in touch by shooting them a “nice to meet you” email and following them on IG and being sure to comment every few days or weeks so you can keep in touch and begin to grow your relationship. When you go to the next event, reach out and see if they’ll be there, and if they are, make time to stop and chat for a few minutes. This is how you truly begin to build those relationships from acquaintances to real connections.