Tomorrow is the final day of this year’s Art Biz Makeover event, and I have scheduled a special session on pitching your art that includes a panel of art world folks who are pitched to by artists all of the time.
As I was preparing for this event, I approached someone that I wanted to sit on this panel of art experts. I broke all of my rules for pitching ideas to people and couldn’t have screwed up the situation worse than I did.
Here’s how it went down in an only slightly edited, simplified version.
Me: We’ve never met, but I teach artists how to build their businesses. I’d like to stop by and introduce myself.
Other person: I don’t see how this would benefit us.
Me: Fair enough. I like to know people who work with my clients, and was going to ask you to sit on a panel featuring [persons X and Y]. I just didn't want to ask you without meeting first. Thank you for your time.
Other person: Alyson you should explain in more depth why you care to meet with people and your business introduction. (Not edited.)
Me: My error. I apologize for wasting your time.
I was feeling all kinds of icky about the whole thing. So I decided just to drop in to this person’s business a couple of hours later to smooth things over. The person wasn’t in, so I talked with the assistant who seemed to know exactly who I was. (More ick.)
Never heard from them again, so I guess I didn’t do any good.
Here’s the thing: It was my fault. I didn’t follow the rules for introducing yourself that I share with clients.
I erred by asking for someone else's time without showing 1) how it could be beneficial for the other person and 2) mentioning connections we had in common.
How I Should Have Delivered My Pitch
If I had been following my rules when I asked this person to sit on my panel, I would have sent an email that looked like this.
I’ve been admiring what you do at x. I especially enjoyed seeing y. Shows that I know about this person’s work.
Although we have never met, I’ve been in touch with [this person] who suggested I contact you. Mention person who referred by name.
[Explain my panel and event here.]
I think you would be an excellent asset to our panel (authentic flattery) and might even meet artists that you could work with in the future (benefit). If this is of interest, I invite you to check out our website at http://artbizmakeover.com. I’m also happy to drop by and introduce myself in person, although I’m sure you’re very busy (understanding that their time is valuable).
Thank you for your consideration, (a note of gratitude)
How You Can Apply This
Follow this formula for introducing yourself to people who might benefit your art career or help you in any way.
Paragraph 1: Show you know the person/venue/organization. Mention anyone you have in common.
Paragraph 2: Explain why you are writing in 2-3 sentences. If you have something of value to the other person, make sure they clearly understand what you’re offering. Get to the point!
Paragraph 3: Flatter authentically, if appropriate, and acknowledge their professional stature.
This works because recipients have almost all of the information they need to make a decision. Don’t mess it up by writing too much or over-explaining. Long emails almost always get passed over.
I hope this formula saves you from screwing up your pitch like I did.