Pedestals Prevent Friendships

Last weekend, I attended a writing festival where I talked to several online writers I admired. It was a surreal experience talking casually with writers that I’ve been reading for years like Nat Eliason and Visa. I felt awe-struck and slightly intimidated.

But it bothered me that I was behaving differently around them than I did with other conference attendees. I felt self-conscious and self-promotional. I was reminded of Derek Sivers’ blog post, Pedestals Prevent Friendships, where he describes his experience as a fledging musician trying to network with big music label executives to no avail. At this music conference, he went to relax by the pool, when he strikes up a conversation with a stranger about girls, Las Vegas, and gambling. The man wanted to keep in touch and handed Derek his business card. It turns out he was a VP at one of the biggest record labels:

If I would have known who he was in advance, I never would have had a real conversation with him. I would have been awkward and self-conscious, trying to promote myself. But because I didn’t know, I could connect on a personal level, and be a real friend.

I used to think that having connections in the music industry meant that you’d have business meetings, and only talk about your mutual business interests. But again and again I’ve realized that we make real connections by talking about anything else, and just clicking as friends. People send business to people they like.
February 27, 2023

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