What makes someone want to work with you?
Sure, it might be your art, but there are a lot of talented artists out there. If you don’t approach your business with the same professionalism you give your art, you are likely to be passed over for other artists.
Based on my conversations with heads of arts agencies, curators, and gallerists, here is a list of nine best practices you can follow that will make you a joy to work with.
Most of these are easy to adopt, but also easy to overlook. Don’t make that mistake.
1. Send short emails and state your purpose in the first paragraph.
Busy recipients of your messages shouldn’t have to guess as to why you are writing or search for the answer somewhere in a long story of your situation.
2. Sign your emails.
Regardless who you are writing to, it’s rude not to sign your messages with your name.
I receive emails daily that are unsigned. Don’t use the excuse that you’re on your smart phone and can’t type well. You shouldn’t be sending business emails if they aren’t proper. Wait until you get to the computer if necessary.
Practice by signing emails to your close friends and family. Soon, it will become a habit for all of your messages.
3. Do your homework.
Before asking for help with anything or sending a request to anyone, read and research. If you can find what you need with a Google search, don’t ask someone else to do the work for you.
This brings me to . . .
4. Value other people’s time.
Remember your appointments, arrive on time, and, again, search for answers before asking for someone else’s time.
These are matters of personal responsibility.
5. Ask for (and meet) any deadlines attached to projects.
Understand that your business partners also have other artists, clients, and customers.
In most relationships, you won’t be the sole focus of the other person’s business. That means (back to #4) that you must acknowledge they are as busy building their businesses as you are building yours. When you miss your deadlines, you can’t expect others to hold your place in line.
People aren’t perfect and should be forgiven just as you would like to be forgiven from time to time.
But . . . if you’re always doing the forgiving in a business relationship, things are out-of-whack and it might be time to find different partners.
7. Be positive.
Negativity feeds on negativity.
We understand that things get bad sometimes, but if you’re always Debbie or David Downer, no one will want to be around you. This can’t be good for your art business.
I am still amazed at all of the positive energy that was in the room at the recent Art Biz Makeover. I told my guests it was because I don’t attract negative people anymore. Those people have fallen to the wayside after I started setting boundaries and got very clear about my ideal clients.
8. Be generous.
The more you give, the more you receive. The more you keep to yourself, the less abundant you will be.
It’s really that simple.
Be generous with your information, your gifts, and your praise.
9. Be grateful.
You will never experience abundance until you are grateful for what you already have.
I still have a few Thank You notes to write after the workshop and I’m particularly mindful of the people who went to great lengths to make the event a success – people who probably work with a lot of cranky, demanding customers.
Yes, I paid these people, but they put up with my changing orders, nitpicky questions, and early deadlines.
I won’t sleep well until they are all thanked properly with gifts or handwritten cards in the mail.
What makes you happy to work with someone?