Go On, Put Yourself Out There!

Even if it terrifies you.
Even if you think your art should speak for itself.
Yes, even if you’re an introvert!

To be honest, I actually identify as an extrovert. Although I do often desire some down time and process many things best by myself, I still find that what I need is the company of others (especially others I love) in order to recharge. But just because I’m an extrovert myself doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate introverts. In fact, I love them! They make up most of my closest friend circle, and are often the people I get along with the best. You know what they say – opposites attract.

And one thing I’ve heard repeatedly from my introverted creative friends is their fear of networking and schmoozing. Hell, you don’t have to be an introvert to fear that. I hate it too. I think all artists and creatively inclined people can relate to the icky feeling of trying to force connections and convince people to give you money for your work. It’s a hard thing to do and still feel like you’re being true to yourself as an artist.

But the problem is that, as a self-employed entrepreneur, you do have to put yourself out there so you can tell people about what you’re doing, build a community of customers and forge connections with potential clients and partners. You can’t make a name for yourself if no one ever even knows your name.

But that doesn’t mean you have to tell everyone about you. Networking doesn’t have to be a game of numbers. It’s not just about how many people you meet and how many business cards you collect. It’s about the quality of the connections you make, more than the quantity. Marie Forleo recently interviewed the very wise, best-selling author and TED Talk speaker Susan Cain, who said, “Don’t think of it as networking; think of it as seeking out kindred spirits.”

I love this! What you do as an artist and creative entrepreneur is always going to be original and innovative, and not everyone will resonate with it or understand it. But those aren’t the people you want to meet and talk to anyway. You can be a killer networker and make all these connections, but if none of them are people you’d actually want to collaborate with or talk to again, then all that effort was spent for nothing. If you only find one person at a party or networking event that you really connect with and want to keep in touch with, then that was a successful event and you should feel good about that! Give yourself permission to feel satisfied with that big (and genuine) accomplishment, and take the pressure off yourself to have to “work the room.”

Find your kindred spirits

In that vein, I recently stumbled upon a fantastic 15min networking solution on Daily Worth, which advocates for this very strategy. They recommend that you choose your networking events very carefully, prioritizing events that will be filled with your “high-profile targets – whatever that means to you. Pick the events you’ll attend strategically and then research the attendees ahead of time to decide a handful that you’ll actually want to meet.

Then go to the event for just the first 15 minutes.

Spend those 15 minutes engaging with each person you identified. Approach them with a provocative or interesting question, and see if anyone sparks as a kindred spirit. Then participate on a few key threads on Facebook or Twitter, and reach out the next day with an email saying something like, “Sorry we didn’t get to talk more last night at the event. I was hoping to have more time to discuss [fill in the subject or question you brought up] with you. Would you have 15 minutes by phone this week to finish that conversation?”

If they respond, you can keep the conversation going and turn that spark into a lasting connection for your business. Once you’ve found those special kindred-spirit connections, however many they are, you’ll feel more motivated to stay in touch and turn them into productive collaboration and progress for your business.

In fact, one of those connections may even prove to be a perfect partner, someone who compliments and completes you in your business. Maybe they’ll be a fellow introvert who understands the way you operate and can work at your speed with you. Or maybe they’ll be an extrovert who can cover the parts of the work that you don’t enjoy, such as the networking or communication with clients, and take those responsibilities off your shoulders.

Whoever they are, just make sure they are a kindred spirit for you and your creative business – that’s all you have to remember to be an awesome networker. So get out there, find those events and those key people you want to connect with, and then put in your 15min to make it happen! It can (and should) be a lot easier than you think.

Happy Networking!

Then comment below and tell me how it went! What worked and what didn’t? And how have you found success identifying kindred spirits and valuable networking practices? I already know you are one of my kindred spirits, so I want to keep the conversation going here too! So remember to subscribe to my email listbuy my book on building the business with your team, and stay tuned for more tips right here!

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Being Liked AND Respected

Can you be liked AND respected as an artist?

In the arts world, many of us have found it common to face a lack of respect from others about what you do. I too understand what it’s like to face the discouraging words of family and friends who don’t think what you’re doing is a very smart or stable career path. Now not all of the Debbie Doubters in your life actually deserve to have your respect, or to have theirs earned. But as artists, it is our job to cultivate creativity and openness in as much of the world as we can.

Which of these have you earned?

And what’s more, as entrepreneurs and business owners, it is also important that you try and cultivate that respect and engender authority in your field. If you want to be successful as a creative entrepreneur, you will need to learn how to encourage people to respect what you do and have to say, beyond just liking you and your work.

But it can be tough to balance both.

Being likable and respected is a delicate line to walk. As John Neffinger says, “You need to project a combination of strength and warmth, and it’s a trick to project both at once.” In fact, John Neffinger’s book “Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential” (co-written with Matthew Kohut) is so highly respected that it’s actually part of the current curriculum at Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown business schools. See what I mean? It’s a bit like “rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. Definitely doable, not so easy.”

So I thought I’d offer 3 simple tips on how you can strike the right balance:

1. Build The Trust

Build Trust

According to a recent Princeton study, our brains make judgements about other people’s warmth and trustworthiness in the first tenth of a second. So if you don’t establish it right away at the start, you’ll have a harder time building that rapport later on. It’s easier to start by being liked, emphasize a willingness to listen, and build that foundation of trust. And then you can always slowly add in demonstrations of your strength and candor later as you feel is needed.

2. Roll Up Your Sleeves

If you are managing others, or in a position above other people you are trying to work with, it can be easy for them to start seeing you as out-of-touch and unapproachable. So be willing to get into the trenches with them and get your hands dirty. This will earn their respect like nothing else. As a film producer, I am always on set everyday of the shoot, working alongside my crew, helping unload and setup equipment, lending a hand where needed, and just generally hanging out and shooting the shit with them. Because I want them to know that I don’t think I am better or above them, or that my time is more valuable than theirs. As a result, I have never had a problem with any of my crew disrespecting me or not feeling like they could come to me with a problem. And at the same time, they all clearly understand what level of engagement and hard work I expect from all of them.

3. Acknowledge Others

In the same vein, it’s important to reward your colleagues and reports when they do well. This shows them that you care about the quality of work they do, and are just as open to giving them praise as you are to giving them constructive criticism. It’s important that they see both sides of that in order to both like and respect you in the workplace. At the end of every film project, I always like to give a special, personalized thank you note and reward to each member of my film team. A recent Daily Worth article on the subject also adds that these sorts of public recognition of your team members can provide incentives for the rest of the team to continue working hard and improving.

There are certainly other tips and tactics you can use besides these 3 to make a lasting, positive and professional impression on your coworkers. These are simply the ones I’ve found the most frequently valuable in my work. But I’d love to hear what you think and have found in yours!

Please comment below and tell me what you think works best, and how you’ve managed to strike the balance between being liked and respected in your creative work. Then remember to subscribe to my email list, buy my book on building your own respected business, and stay tuned for more tips right here!

Build the Partnership

“I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!” -The Joker in The Dark Knight

They say that all is fair in Love and War. But about in Love and Work?

It’s very common and understandable that someone who shares your passion in work will also seem like a good match for the passion in your personal life. I can relate to this scenario, having myself experienced that seemingly perfect union of love and work, and dated the very man with whom I built our revolutionary new independent action film production company, Action Pact Entertainment.

But while that partnership lead to incredible career progress, I simultaneously dealt with the significant complications of mixing business with pleasure. And while the romantic part of that relationship didn’t work out, we managed to end it very amicably, and turn our focus entirely on the business partnership.

How did we manage to do this? It was quite simply a matter of learning how to trust one another in the partnership – both with the heart and the mind – and maintain open and honest communication. Doing this, we were able to develop and maintain a common vision for the future, despite the ups and downs.

We have all had our share of unhealthy relationships and experiences that left a bad taste in our mouth. I’ve had walls up for so long, that I found them particularly difficult to let down when faced with someone I actually want to let in, whether romantically or professionally. But it is possible to learn to forgive the patterns of your past & accept the new challenges of building a lasting & trusting partnership with someone – and the process of doing this is not much different from learning to overcome the unhealthy patterns in any other area of your life.

It starts with being honest with yourself about what you really want, so you can identify your chaos, and what is holding you back from reaching that.

Armed with that knowledge, you can then move on to the stage of simplification, filtering down all your issues and obstacles to the core problem that you must overcome. It’s often more simple than it seems. For my situation, I could envision this love-work challenge to be quite complicated. But it’s really a lot simpler than I feared — because both are a kind of partnership, and if built together at the same time, they can actually help strengthen, rather than impede, each other.

The next step is to take what you’ve learned and put it into action – build a game plan from what you’ve learned that will energize you forward into a new and better partnership. For me, this action plan involves a little bit of boundary setting with a lot of open two-way communication, and a very robust To Do list tracker. But the important thing is we set our goals and game plan together, my partner and I, and are keeping each other in check and on track every step of the way. And remember, the solution is often much simpler than you think.

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So no matter what kind of partnership is giving you trouble, or who in your life you are struggling with, the most important thing is that you work together to create the solution that will improve and empower you both. Our chaos is only as strong as we let it be, and likewise only as disabling. So take these simple steps side-by-side, and see where that can lead you both.

I’m certainly not there yet, and it may take a while for me to reach that goal. But at least I’m on the right path and have found a business partnership that fulfills me as much as it challenges me. So I know I will enjoy the journey as much as I know I will enjoy the destination.

Best of luck to all you fellow one-half-of-amazing-partnerships out there. I hope you too can find a solid road to travel together, and I truly hope that anything I’ve shared here can help you in shaping that journey.

 

Looking for someone to partner with, who can help you elevate your creative business to the next level? I am available for 1-on-1 consulting, and would love to explore building a Productive Partnership with you.

Send me a message if you would like to request a quote and explore this option with me!

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