BY ALYSON STANFIELD ON MARCH 19, 2014
That’s the sound of the pressure vanishing like magic. That pressure of trying to hit a home run when you contact someone about your work.
Maybe it’s an email to an interior designer, a meeting with an art consultant, or a letter to a gallerist. You want them to show your art, buy your work, or represent you.
You’re not alone in feeling the pressure to get it just right. Much of the stress comes from the mistaken notion that this one contact is your only opportunity. If you think about it as your only opportunity, you aren’t leaving open the possibility of developing a relationship. And strong professional relationships are what will build and sustain your art career. What if, instead of thinking about your first contact as a one-time chance, you considered it an introduction – your first of many contacts?
During my brief stint as an art consultant, I received a flood of letters from artists with similar wording. They all started with: “I’d like to introduce you to my work.” I never heard from any of these artists again. Just that one letter from them. They didn’t want a relationship with me. They just wanted something from me.
I advise my students and members never to ask for anything in the first contact with a new prospect. I suggest the following rhythm for introducing yourself:
- Open with how you know them or know of them.
- Compliment their work or mention mutual friends, etc. Show you are familiar with them and their business. People like to know you’ve done your homework.
- Then you can mention your art in 1-2 sentences. Keep it short and punchy, and invite (not command) them to visit your website.
- Finally, thank them for their time, and tell them you look forward to meeting them in person.
- That’s it.
You will then make note of this contact in your database and set reminders for sending future postcards or personal email messages. You are building name recognition and trust during this process. You’ll know when the time is right to ask.
Doesn’t this feel more authentic than developing the perfect pitch?