Recently I read an excellent post by artist Lori McNee titled, “How I Landed Two New Galleries in One Weekend – Park City & Jackson Hole!” Some feat I thought!
The first thing that I enjoyed about the article was Lori’s comment about her approach to the currently struggling gallery system, “I chose keep a positive attitude and view this as an opportunity – because good galleries are always in need of good artists and vice versa”.
So true – all too often I read articles predicting nemesis for the entire gallery system – but honestly – when I want to “experience” art I mostly do that at galleries and museums. I shudder to think of a world where I can’t wander into a gallery to check out their latest art and new artists.
The second thing that caught my attention in Lori’s article was the importance of her website in closing the deal with the first gallery. The visual decision was based solely on what the gallery director saw on Lori’s website. So – does that tell you how important your artist website is in your career?
The third and most important thing I got from the article was the value of Lori’s social network in setting up the opportunity with the galleries. She says, “After a referral from a fellow artist and a quick telephone conversation with the gallery owner, I was honored to be accepted into the prestigious Mountain Trails Gallery of Park City, Utah“.
Did you see that small word there: “Referral”?
That is a very powerful word for any business and for any artist interested in business success. Referrals and recommendations from people in your social network who are connected to the gallery you are interested in are worth their weight in gold.
Think about this for a minute from a gallery director’s perspective. Galleries are businesses that must make money and the ability to make art of a consistent style and quality available to their customers is vitally important. That means that they want to work with artists who are talented, prolific, consistent, and great to work with – good business partners.
As an artist approaching a gallery for the first time you are a fairly risky proposition – quite frankly it is easier not to take a risk on you even if your art looks great. But if you are recommended by someone with an existing relationship with the gallery – suddenly you become much more attractive because the risk factor is much reduced. That’s how it works in any field of life. So there really is validity to the old saying:
Social Network = Net Worth
The more you make use of your social network the more financially successful you will be. Life wants you to connect with other beings and will reward you for doing so!
So here is the takeaway: Next time you want to approach a gallery (or any other business for that matter), rather than just sending them letters and emails (which will probably be largely ignored), look first at your social network to see who you know who might be connected to that gallery. You are nearly always only a couple of connections away from the person you want to reach – you just need to find the pathway. When you do, you can then ask for a referral or recommendation.
Online social network tools can be very useful for this research. I find linkedin especially helpful because you can find the person you want to connect with and then linkedin actually charts out for you whether you have a connection and your options for being introduced. This is VERY POWERFUL STUFF!! So, use it!