How to become part of the conversation

You want to be known for your good work. People tell you that if you work hard and produce creative work, you will be rewarded with fame and fortune.

They lied.

Based on my experience, only about 10 percent of creative people will build and enjoy the career most of us desire. Doing a good job will not get you to the top.

You have to do more.  You need to become part of the conversation within your industry.  You need to be the example.  Very few photographers, writers, and artists can accomplish this without outside promotion.  In many cases the famous people you talk about in your industry are also good at networking, marketing, and promotion.

How is this accomplished?

Go to industry events (local, regional or national). Talk to the people at the top.  Tell them your name. Ask a few questions, but don’t push your stuff on them.  Listen and then thank them for their time.

Go to more events. Say hello, again.

Develop relationships with people in your industry and people in the industries you serve.

Don’t expect others to discover you or give you opportunities. Even your best friend has no obligation to recommend you — especially if he doesn’t think you have what it takes.  Remember, people will refer you if they feel their recommendation will reap rewards (large or small).

Volunteer to speak at local events.  If you have the opportunity, speak at larger industry events. Learn to recognize and take advantage of public relations opportunities. Develop relationships with local reporters.

In the past, this would be the end of the story.

These days,  we can do everything listed above and more.  Social media lowers the barrier, allowing us to introduce ourselves to more industry leaders.  We can share our expertise with groups of people.  You can publish a blog and Tweet your latest creation to the world.

Unfortunately, many people forget the rules are the same. You need to build relationships with the same respect you would in face-to-face meetings.

Introduce yourself, listen, be respectful, and add value to the relationship. In the case of social media, you will have many more relationships to juggle.  As you build trust with more people, the conversation will grow.  As you share your story, work, earn supporters and become a supporter of others, your story will become a part of your industry story.

People will reference you, ask you to collaborate on projects, and consider you an expert in the field.

Even better, they will refer you.


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