Not sure how to label your CD for an exhibit submission?
Call the organizer or gallery and ask.
Unclear about the instructions for a grant proposal?
Call the organization and ask.
Wondering how to best promote a speaker or workshop presenter?
Call the speaker and ask!
Years ago I visited the offices of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in Washington, D.C. to talk with them about the grant proposals we were submitting on behalf of the art museum. One piece of advice has always stuck with me. The gentleman said something to this effect:
“We are here to answer questions. Use us! Seek our advice as you are writing your proposal—not at the very end with the deadline in sight.”
Too often we flounder because we’re afraid of asking for clarification. We’re afraid of the answer, so we’d rather guess. Or we’re lazy. Picking up the phone and dialing a number these days requires so much effort.
Asking doesn’t make you look unknowledgeable or stupid. On the contrary! Asking makes you look smart. Here are four benefits of asking for clarification.
- It puts your name in front of the person on the other end. “Hi, this is . . . and I’d like some clarification about . . . “ Putting your name in front of people is always good business.
- It shows people that you want to honor their guidelines and preferences.
- It proves to the other person that you are a professional—especially if you make your call in advance and don’t wait until the day before a deadline. You got past any fear or laziness and picked up the phone.
- It gives you peace of mind because you know you did it right.
FINAL WORD: If you’re confused or unsure about guidelines or requirements, ask for clarification. In all of the examples above, I encouraged you to pick up the phone and dial a number rather than send an email. I stress this because it’s easy to be further confused by email. A live conversation will be much more fruitful and will often be faster than exchanging email messages.
The podcast is an audio version of this content.