Sometimes you can be so focused on getting the gig, swinging the deal, being a star or grabbing the center of attention, that your basic people skills go flying out the window, along with untapped potential and unexplored opportunities to engage those very things you crave at the core of your dreams.
Keys to Open Doors
There are a few often overlooked keys that can help you open doors of opportunity while also helping you build and strengthen relationships as you make connections. Many of these keys will seem obvious and absurdly simple. But, it’s amazing how often they're overlooked or get lost in the scramble to be noticed.
As you pursue your singing success, you will interact with a lot of people that serve to protect those that are in a position to advance your career. All too often these people are brushed aside or are even looked down on by aspiring singers, singer-songwriters, and singing musicians.
Honor + Encourage
The first key to remember is to honor and encourage each person you meet. For example, let's say you want to get a meeting with a particular booking agent or artist manager. But there are people that serve as gatekeepers or screeners that you have to deal with. You must remember that anyone you encounter might potentially open a door for you – maybe not right away, but somewhere down the road at a critical crossroad. One thing is for certain – they can close a door and keep it locked if you're perceived as a threat.
Open With Respect
So, always be friendly, open, and respectful. You don’t want a self-serving, negative attitude or some condescending behavior to be a deal breaker or something that adds an additional obstacle to block your path to success. Think of each person you meet as a potential fan or personal advocate for your artistry.
Sure, you will meet a lot of jerks and creeps and otherwise unpleasant people along the way. When you encounter any negative types, be patient, and be friendly but guarded. But whatever you do, resist any urge to feed the negative behavior by serving it up or slinging it back. Keep your cool, and move on.
Build Bridges Through Conservation
Find out where someone is coming from. Ask about their musical tastes and their views on what makes a performer successful. Ask about marketing trends and shifts in the industry. Ask about favorite singers, songwriters, bands, and musicians. Get as much information as you can on what people find appealing and what they would like to see more of. If you find them reluctant to talk about music, build a bridge of conversation by asking about the arts in general, media, or pop culture. Then, once they open up, subtly shift into music.
By asking questions about taste and perspectives, you empower the individual. It also conveys your willingness to learn, along with respect for the industry and your place in it. Share your views and talk about what you stand for as a singer, singer-songwriter, or singing musician. You don’t have to spill your guts or launch into a sales pitch. Be yourself. Keep it conversational, with your views always positioned to invite a response. In other words, say something like, do you ever feel that way or what do you think about that?
Give Your Spin
For example, if you talk about musical taste, ask what they think of that in terms of how it appeals to them personally and in terms of the bigger picture of its broader appeal in the market. Then, you can allude to where you fit in as far as that sense of style or appeal is concerned.
This approach with anyone will help you build rapport by learning about where they are coming from, relating to any common ground in your tastes and observations, and then introducing yourself as an artist.
Another obvious but often dismissed key is to get personal information. Remember to get names, a little history on where someone is from originally, how they got into the business, and even what dreams or goals they may have.
Find out about family and even get information on what they think of the area where they work or live. You can even ask them about places they'd recommend such as restaurants, shops, even things likes doctors or veterinarians, if that comes up. The point is that you find touches of info that personalizes the situation and can make you and them more accessible.
If you sense that someone is shutting down, or that you may have overstepped a boundary, simply apologize. Generally speaking, this kind of small talk gives you information to build on. Something as simple as remembering somebody’s name, and then thanking them for a recommendation of a local club or restaurant, could open a door to an interview or get an introduction to a venue owner, production person, PR rep, potential band member, or an agent. If nothing else, you have a friend.
Honor any personal info that is shared such as birthdays by remembering! Send a card or a text – whatever you feel is appropriate, based on the degree of familiarity. Don't send a dozen roses to somebody you bumped into in the elevator. That would be a turn off and a clear red flag that could scream for security. But acknowledge and honor information such as names, birthdays, recommendations, and any help you receive with a sincere thank you and any other appropriate follow up.
Turn Your Keys at SSTV
These simple keys apply to your forum postings at SSTV. Use the forums to get to know your fellow viewers. Get their spin on trends and musical tastes. Compare notes on dreams, struggles, stumbling, coaches, lessons, and triumphs. Ask for success stories on networking, performing, studio work, interviews – the more you share and the more you seek to know, the more you receive and the better prepared you will be to pursue your singing success with confidence.