Say yes to opportunities!
We’ve all heard this one before, but I’m going to give you all my two cents and personal twist on this little pearl of wisdom. When it comes to building your artistic brand, resume, and personal and professional reputation, it almost always pays off to say YES. Now, when a really great, big, dream job type of opportunity comes along, I’m assuming you all already plan to take it. However, I’m talking about taking this one step further:
Yes- I will attend your party.
Yes- I will choreograph a small scene in your movie, even if it’s for free (to a point, but more on this later).
Yes- I will try to help you with your personal project.
In each of these instances, you have the opportunity to gain collateral. Personal collateral with friends, and professional collateral with colleagues. And maybe, the type of collateral that will let you later open doors towards that dream opportunity.
Expanding your circles of influence very rarely comes with a downside- except when you don’t keep your word. So, say yes to as many things as you realistically can, and then make sure that you follow through. Respond to invitations on Facebook (you know the ones, to a friend of a friend’s gallery opening, to your college roommate’s cabaret performance, to your ex-boyfriend’s friends CD release party), and then actually attend the events you say you’ll be at. If you can’t attend, mention that too, and if you’re really unsure if you’re available, actually tell the hosts of the event why. Seems like a small thing, but people will notice.
You’ll soon become that person who always keeps their word, and is considered, thoughtful, helpful, and generous. Someone who cares about the things their friends, acquaintances, and colleagues are working on. And let me tell you, those adjectives and that reputation will go a long way.
I feel like there is a common trap that most artists fall into at one point or another in their careers. It is the “I can’t take this gig because it isn’t what I got into this business to do!” trap. This blog has really helped me to reinforce that old saying “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Saying “Yes” to a gig or to a party invite or to a personal project that may not directly be what you’re trying to do is not a cop-out or a compromise in any way. It’s all grist for the mill and it all matters in the end. The artists I most admire are those who say “Yes” the most.
There is an old saying “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I think this post encapsulates that for me. Too often I see artists (I include myself in this critique) turn down opportunities because they don’t seem to directly relate to what it is they are trying to do. Have you ever heard yourself say “this isn’t what I got into this to do!”? Well, honestly, the common thread I see among the most successful artists out there is that they are positive people that constantly say “Yes” to opportunities that come their way. They don’t let ego or pride cloud their judgement and they simply move forward like a locomotive fueled by an energy that attracts others to their cause. “Yes” is contagious, after all.