Your Breakthrough Might Be a Single Question Away
It was a beautiful Friday morning. The sun was shining bright, fall air crisp and inviting, and the line for a seat at the local cafe was about two families deep. We had a few more in our party than most, so the hostess informed us it would take a bit longer to get seated. No problem! We settled in to visit and wait.
After several minutes with all the other parties seated, I stood to stretch my legs and noticed multiple tables around the restaurant that could accommodate our party. The wait staff bustled around acting overwhelmed, the hostess could be located in brief flurries of activity as she out-bustled the waitresses and there was an air of exhaustion filling the room. Normally, I can wait out the best of them with no issue. This particular morning however, part of my family had to get on the road for a lengthy return trip home and daylight drive time was being whittled away. So, I calmly flagged the hostess down in one of her scrambles past and asked if we might claim one of the empty tables currently on the floor. I was worried about her response and almost didn’t ask, but I just kind of stepped out and made the request before I could second guess myself. She was gracious, kind, and more than happy to seat my party. She actually ended up suggested a different table that was actually more comfortable! As we sat and enjoyed our breakfast, I was again struck by a lesson I’ve been learning and relearning over the years — Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
I’m not sure exactly when I learned that lesson. Probably a while ago, but I started implementing it into my life about two years ago. I started pushing myself outside my comfort zone a bit and working up the boldness to ask bold questions. You want to know the worst thing that’s happened in the countless times I’ve done this since? I’ve been ignored. That’s the worst outcome so far. I’ve not had a single person berate me for being too presumptuous. I’ve not been ranted at or cussed out. Instead, I’ve had opportunities that I would never have had before.
I’ve connected with respected photographers from around the world that are the leaders in their respective industries. I’ve written for one of the top online photography websites on the Internet. I’ve connected with incredible writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs. Just recently, I connected with one incredible illustrator and creative that has agreed to be interviewed for the book I am working on. This is a published artist with nearly a million Instagram fans! Two years ago, this never would have happened!
How can I do this and be successful with my inquiries to those that are much more influential than I?
The first step to getting someone to connect with you is the step where you actually reach out to them. You have to recognize that you need to be a part of the creative community, that you have something to offer, that others have something to offer, and that it won’t kill you to attempt to connect. If you realize this but are still hesitant or nervous about “making the ask,” spend some time thinking about the worst case scenario. What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen? The person you are attempting to connect with ignores you? Maybe they even get snarky and say that they don’t want to waste their time with someone as uninfluential as you? Fine! Ultimately, that hasn’t cost you anything. A lack of response or a hurtful response doesn’t prevent you from doing anything you want or need to do. It might be a bump in the road, but it’s not a roadblock! You can still press forward towards your goals.
On the other hand, what’s the best that could happen? You might make a connection! You could end up with a mutually beneficial relationship. You might have a social media influencer on your side for your next art exhibition or book launch. You may have some killer blog content from a conversation or some feedback on ways that you can improve your art. Only you can decide. Is the potential reward worth the minimal risk? In my case, it has been worth it every time. I encourage you to give it a shot and let me know what happens!
Now that I have, hopefully, convinced you to reach out, how do you do that? Well, the easy part is finding their contact info, and then you just do it — send them a DM or an email. Be real when you compose your message. Spend some time checking out their work and their social channels. Figure out their personality as much as possible and put yourself in their shoes. Putting in some time to get a better understanding of what they are about is vital. Additionally, most people are encouraged by a positive word of affirmation (regardless of success level) so let them know that you appreciate their art, their vulnerability in sharing it, their leadership in business, and their attention. Be respectful and honest in your question(s). It doesn’t hurt to be active and engaging with them on their social channels before, during, and after your “ask.” You need to show that you aren’t just looking to use them for something, but that you appreciate them. Give more than you ask for, and always be kind and respectful. It’s amazing what some good ol’ fashioned courtesy and respect will do for you these days!
This should go without saying, but unfortunately, it can’t. Remember, these people that you are contacting don’t need you, have succeeded without you, and they don’t owe you ANYTHING. Keep that in mind as you interact and your results will be better than you expect most of the time. Take the time to fully respond to any questions they might ask you, fully read their responses, and for that initial contact, take ample time to prepare your correspondence. Don’t just throw something together and expect them to overlook your poor grammar, spelling mistakes, and assumptions that they will drop everything to answer you. Treat them better than how you would like to be treated. Again, good ol’ fashion courtesy goes far these day.
With these tools and a little bit of boldness, I think you will be surprised at how many influencers are happy to help! When someone works hard, develops their craft, and eventually achieves a measure of success, it’s easy to put them on a pedestal. While they certainly deserve respect, it’s also helpful to keep mind that they are on the same journey we are. They are just a bit further along…
What other tips or ideas have you found that have helped you connect with people?
So many creatives I know struggle with the same frustrations and internal battles. It’s an epidemic, but there is a way to embrace your creativity, still the negative voices inside, and break out of your box to share your art with the world. I’m finalizing revisions to my brand new ebook sharing insights learned from countless battles over the years. It will be free and I would absolutely love to share it with you once it’s finished. If you would like to sign up to be informed of its release, sign up below!