On today's stop, the fourth, Christine DeCamp asked me about networking. In particular, she has a hard time asking (or remembering to ask) for other people's business cards and contact info.
Christine's blog post is no longer available, so I've included our discussion below.
I took your Promote Your Art class. I KNOW this stuff, but I STILL have trouble asking people for their contact info, even when they're interested in my work. I get nervous, I forget what I'm doing–ACK!!! Later, I could kick myself! I gave them MY info & didn't get theirs. It reminds me of my completely inappropriate–but real to me–fear of talking to people as a kid when I was expected to sell Girl Scout cookies door to door.
Christine, this is common. Don’t kick yourself, but learn from your oversight and do something differently. As you know, in the book I reveal that it’s much more important to get business cards than to pass yours out. It’s because having someone else’s business card gives you control of that information. If you just give out brochures, flyers, and business cards, you never know what happens to them. But if you’re in the driver’s seat, you can use that information to build and maintain relationships. This is why you’re kicking yourself, but let’s move on to a more fruitful discussion.
Let me ask you this: Do you just forget to ask for their info? Or do you not know what to say? Or do you feel you’re intruding? Where are you coming from at the moment?
I think it's because I get nervous when I'm “on” with potential clients. I forget to ask. I don't consciously feel like I'm intruding, but I was thinking about this the other day, and how my parents used to say that I shouldn't be afraid to speak out, etc. But when I think about how they acted themselves in the world, I think that I picked up a different message from their behavior.
Maybe you can think about this as your self-promotion muscle. It just needs to be exercised. You need to get it into shape. What you’re talking about just takes practice. It takes a while to develop a habit of promoting yourself. It won’t help to beat yourself up over missed opportunities. It’s more effective to look back at each situation and evaluate what you could have done differently. When was there a good opportunity to get their business cards? What could you have said? What exact words would have been effective and comfortable for you to use?
I wonder if it would help if you had a clear reason to get their information. What if you could say, “Do you have a card? I’d love to send you a copy of this article I wrote.” Or “small matted print” or “set of greeting cards” or whatever you have that is of interest and value to people. That might make it easier to remember and easier to ask.
Thanks, Alyson, for letting me “pick your brain” a little and help you get your book out!
Image (c) Christine DeCamp, West Marin Carrots