How well do you listen? Do you understand what others are saying to you? Or do you find yourself often in conversations drifting off thinking about where you need to be in the next hour, or about a project you need to complete or something else?
One of the most important skills you need to learn as an artist is to be able to truly understand what another person is saying to you. Being fully present in conversation is a very basic but significant step towards finding commercial value to your art and being able to devise a way, through your artistry, to help another accomplish their goals or mission.
Let me share with you an example of why this is so important:
Last week I was working with a client- an artist- on how to present themselves professionally, build confidence with the client and get the red light to do a project and be paid well for it. As a trial balloon, I set up a meeting with another artist to explore a project my client could do for them. My goal for my client was to explore how to develop his own client- service provider relationship.
I was present at the meeting to facilitate good communication as well as to help define the objectives and scope of the project by creating a mutual dialogue between my client and the artist to help my client understand how its done.
The meeting went well and, it seemed when it ended that, we were all be in agreement as to the nature of the work and the steps to take to get there. Good first step.
And yet today the artist I am coaching emailed me with a question that demonstrated he really did not understand or remember what was discussed in the meeting.
Now if the artist I am coaching had emailed a real client with this question, it would likely have derailed the project and created distrust on the part of the client because clearly the question demonstrated a lack of basic understanding about the scope of the work discussed in detail in the meeting.
You must keenly listen to what others are saying until you can hear in their words, and be able to parrot back to them, their needs, desires, concerns, hopes and expectations. We all communicate both facts and desire blended together when we speak about an issue, project or goal.
I personally find that if I can repeat in my own words to the client their objectives, I have internalized their views and remember them. However, writing things down at this point might also be helpful if your fearful you won’t remember it.
Lesson #2: By doing this you will allow yourself the opportunity to capitalize on what you have just learned about the needs of your potential client. Hopefully this will allow you to take this new found knowledge and properly devise a creative plan that involves your artistry to meet their needs, desires, concerns, hopes and expectations, for a good sum of money.
The art of selling your art is to deliver to your audience, donors, supporters, customers, buyers what they want and need. If you don’t learn how to listen well enough to retain what they are saying how can you ever possible create the solution you are so capable of providing?
If you lose sight of the fact that your creativity only has commercial viability and appeal as a direct result of filling needs, you essentially are creating art for the only purpose of self satisfaction. Do we need more self serving people in this world? Or do we need artists who are changing the world by helping the people they wish most to reach?
While most artists I know can generate an idea a minute, without filling a need with that great next idea you generate, your creativity is reduced in the eyes of others as either something easy to steal– because they see you are not capable of protecting it, nurturing it and executing it– or mindless chatter that has little financial value.