Most people are just like you: They are cautious, and would like to know a bit about someone before they meet for the first time. Even if you do not have a mutual friend with the person you will be meeting you might have other points of similarity (the same college alma mater, experience living in the same town, or perhaps you both visited a recent art exhibit). These are all things that can also make someone feel more comfortable about meeting you. Take your time and do your research before writing so that you can better tailor your letter to each person. Internet profiles, press releases, and media clippings can give you clues about how to make your approach based on the current interests of the person.
Writing this short, polite letter requesting a meeting should be the easy part. The hard part for most people is following up when you do not get a response. This is usually the part where people give up because they take a lack of response personally and assume the person doesn’t like them when they don’t write back. I will tell you a few stories about my own follow up, and also one of my friend’s stories. She was working at a major publisher in an upper-level executive position, making a six-figure salary, and was happy with her job. But she felt her boss was sexually harassing her. She filed a complaint with human resources and they told her that her situation was unfortunate and she had two choices: either stay on after giving a formal complaint and see how it worked out, or quit and they would give her six months pay and a coaching system and mentor that she could use until she got her next job. She thought that having a coaching program for as long as needed to secure the perfect job was an attractive offer. That alone was worth thousands, so she took it. As she told me this story, she also showed me all the printed material she had received on getting the perfect job from her coach. While reading it, I came across a passage on how to get someone to respond to a letter.
How to Land an Interview or a Meeting
The section began by saying that most people who send their resumes and cover letters complain that no one ever calls them back for an interview, and further stated that this is the reason that most people don’t get the job they are after, and why they become resentful. Artists can relate to this as well. Writing to collectors, museums, and galleries and not getting responses can be frustrating.
The Way to Handle No Responses
My friend’s coaching material details the proper way to handle not getting a response. When writing a letter, it says, always end by saying that you will follow up with a call in two days. Be precise and never forget to say it. That way, the reasoning goes, you will remain in power and never have to wait for a call that isn’t coming. If you call in two days and get voicemail or a secretary, simply say that you are following up per your email and will send another email in two days. Every correspondence should end with you saying that you will follow up with the alternative method to what you have just done—a phone call or email. In this way, you can pursue people for weeks or months—however long it takes to reach them.
To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here. To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.