Season 4 – epiBLOG 17:
The “F-U” that I’m referring to here is “following-up” with people, so please get your minds out of the gutter. Following-up is crucial to the success of every entrepreneurial artist.
How often do you reach out to people for the very first time on LinkedIn, and then never follow-up with that investor, that C.E.O, or that marketing manager that you invited to connect?
How often do you not follow-up with the cable television producer after sending them a link to your YouTube video of a cooking show that you created?
Or… how many of you have simply not followed-up with a gallery owner after sending her a link to images on Instagram of your latest paintings?
More often than you care to admit, I’m sure.
Today’s topic is on distinguishing how to follow-up with people that you are contacting for the purposes of selling your art as a product or what you offer as a service.
I’m covering a couple of scenarios within this blog so that you can at least get an idea of what it looks like to follow-up. I brought up both art as a product and art as a service because it’s important for you to consider these options when reaching out to others. For example, if you’re a writer there are producers, clients, or publishers that can hire you to perform your service as a writer. If you’re a painter or sculptor, someone can purchase your artwork as a product. Of course, this can work the other way around — a writer can sell a product and a fine artist or sculptor can be hired for their services. Consider what you can offer others while you’re helping to solve their problems at the same time.
There are several options and opportunities to generate an income, but one of the key ingredients is following-up with those whom you reach out to or with those who have reached out to you.
Does that make sense?
I hope so.
Fear of rejection or overstepping boundaries often keeps artists from taking that next step into having their dream materialize. The dream of getting paid for their work.
The following are two typical scenarios of how you would want to follow-up:
You meet some people for the first time at a networking mixer, networking group, or at some social gathering where you have an opportunity to speak with a variety of people face-to-face. You exchange contact information in your cells…. Maybe even go “old school” by exchanging a business card or two, or you send a “friend request” on Facebook. The initial contact takes place at the event – the social gathering. It’s important to follow-up within 24-48 hours after meeting so that you will be somewhat fresh in your contact’s mind. Of course, in your follow-up to them you want to remind them of where you met and something significant that you discussed with them at the event that will remind them of you.
POSSIBLE FOLLOW-UP OPTIONS:
- Option One — Send an email reminding them of who you are and let them know that it was a pleasure meeting them (if that’s how you sincerely feel). If you’ve already brought up what you do for a living (your art) when you met them, you can easily segue in your email into letting them know how you can help and support what they need help and support in (i.e., solving their problem). Their needs are what you should’ve been listening for during your initial conversation. Listening is another blog post topic altogether, but I want you to understand just how important it is to listen to others and to make them the priority in your conversations. You will learn a lot about them, which will allow you to figure out how you can help them – either with your own skills or by referring someone else to them. You always want to be helpful and supportive to what another person is needing. Trying to “sell” something to people that they don’t even need or want, or never even taking the time to qualify their needs isn’t going to be productive for you or for the other person. Furthermore, an email is one of the most professional and non-intrusive ways of following-up with people.
- Option Two — If you’re already Facebook friends or are new connections on LinkedIn from the day of your initial meeting, and if one of these social platforms is the ONLY form of contact information that you have on this person, a second option is to send a private message on messenger (Facebook) or on LinkedIn stating the same information that you would in an email. Be professional.
- Option Three — The third option is to simply call them. If you were able to get their phone number, and depending on the nature of your initial conversation, you may be comfortable with following-up with a phone call. I don’t always recommend this as an option because a phone call can be “intrusive” if they answer it a time that isn’t good for them. I know what you’re thinking: “Why would they answer the phone if it’s not a good time?” Good question, but it does happen. If you feel the nature of your initial meeting warrants a phone call, and as soon as they pick up, I would first clear their time out of respect. For example, “Hello John. This is Nitara Osbourne. We met at the San Diego Mixer last night. Is this a good time to talk?” This gives them the opportunity to get situated and ready for your conversation if they need that moment to do so. Again, I recommend an email, Facebook message, or LinkedIn message before a phone call. A phone call is your last option, and should ONLY be used based on the nature of your initial conversation. I would NOT recommend sending a new contact a text message as a follow-up because text messages are meant to be quick. You need to provide more information than what would be expected in a text message. This is NOT to say that you can’t ever use text messaging as an option, but it will definitely depend on how casual your initial meeting was and if that was the expectation to begin with.
You’re on a mission to find a spectacular “connection” on LinkedIn. You just spruced up your profile, and are very proud of your accomplishments. You decide to seek other contacts that will be the perfect connection for you as an entrepreneurial artist. You target a specific group, and you invite people within this group to be a connection for you. They accept your invite to connect. By the way, the most effective way to invite people to connect on LinkedIn is to send a personalized message to invite them. After they accept your invitation to connect, you’re looking at two potential follow-up opportunities.
POSSIBLE FOLLOW-UP OPTIONS:
- Option One — You message them a second time (the first time I’m counting as your “invite to connect” message). In this second message, you should thank them for connecting with you and be honest with them as to what you like about them or what has drawn you to them. Honesty and sincerity will go a long way in every area of your life. Minimally share who you are by sharing accomplishments in areas that can actually benefit your contact and solve potential obstacles that they may need solved. Gather information from their LinkedIn profile and/or google information on them, and determine how you can be of service to them.
- Option Two — If you don’t hear back from them from the second message, send a third message, letting them know when you sent them the last message and simply reminding them of how you can help and support them and their needs. This third message should be short and sweet, and is simply a reminder of how you can help them. This third message can be sent after a week if you haven’t heard back from them. People are busy, and you want to give them the opportunity to respond without constantly bombarding them with a bunch of messages.
There is a lot that goes into following-up. You don’t want to let fear of rejections, disappointments, and happenstance determine the success of your artistic career.
Today’s LESSON is to be courteous, persistent, and consistent when following-up while creating opportunities for everyone to win.
FUN ASSIGNMENT: Research face-to-face networking opportunities within your local area, meet people, gather their contact information, and “practice” following-up. The only way to “practice” is to actually do it. Furthermore, make sure your LinkedIn profile is completely updated, and reach out to people on that social media platform based upon who you’re targeting right now.