A pianist—let’s call him Otto—wrote to me a while back asking for some career advice and we had a conversation by phone. He’d been booking his own recital performances and it was going OK. But Otto wanted to know how to get more concerts at more prestigious series.
I think he may have expected me to give him a list of venues and names and the “secret sauce” to getting the gigs he wanted. Otto may have thought (or hoped) that there was a magic bullet.
And while I often help clients improve their email pitches, their promotional materials, and their programming—and this can make a big difference—there is still no magic bullet.
In our conversation what I offered Otto was a series of questions.
I asked him about the performances he’d booked. Had he gotten to know any of the concert presenters? Were any of them especially enthusiastic about his performance? Did he get testimonials from them? And had he stayed in touch with them?
The questions I asked may have seemed off base because Otto wasn’t interested in further cultivating this same group of presenters. What he wanted was access to higher profile presenters. So he may have even been a little annoyed with my questions.
But we talked it through. I explained that presenters all know each other. And that the best person to get leads, advice, and referrals from would be a presenter he’d already worked with. Someone who knew his playing and would have a sense for what other series might make a great fit for him.
I asked, “Do you think any of the concert presenters you’ve worked with in the past would be willing to have a phone conversation with you and give you some advice?”
He said yes.
I said he could ask for feedback on the email pitch and promo materials he’d been using—and learn what the presenter thinks he might improve on. And then Otto could ask the presenter for suggestions of other series he should be sending pitches to (with the presenter’s permission to use her/his name as the referral).
I asked, “Does this re-connecting sound like something you could do?”
I suggested sending an email thanking the presenter for booking him in the past and saying what in particular he appreciated about working with them, performing in their hall, and connecting with their audience. And then ask if he could have a short conversation with the presenter in the coming week to get some professional feedback.
Otto said yes he could do that.
Sending this type of re-connecting email, or any booking pitch, can activate our fear of rejection and so we may procrastinate. (I know first hand!) So I asked Otto if he had any anxiety about sending such an email.
He said no, he was thinking of a particular presenter and he felt very comfortable about reaching out to her.
I said, “Great, so when are you going to do this?”
Having a specific deadline in your calendar and having an accountability partner can make all the difference. I often ask clients to email me when they’ve completed their “scary” to-do list item. It’s a relief to be able to write, “I DID IT!”
Once Otto started thinking differently about his network and getting specific referrals from people who knew him and liked his work, he was off and running. By changing his mindset he opened the door to new opportunities.
This week: Name three people you could re-connect with for more performance opportunities. I’d love to hear that you’ve done it!
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well!