Up until now, this Branding Basics guide has been focused on creating your online brand. But what about when you are interacting with people in real life? You want to let the world know that there is a person behind that shiny brand – so here are some tips to make a good impression.
I can just see you shudder at the thought. But this is a real thing – before you ever open your mouth, your apparel and your demeanor tell people a great deal about you. Two ways to prepare to exude confidence:
1) Practice walking into a room with a confident demeanor, a warm smile and a firm handshake. A former colleague of mine taught me this exercise: before you go into an important event or meeting, lock yourself in a bathroom stall and stretch your arms and legs out like a starfish, trying to make yourself as big as possible. Then you take that extra-tall feeling straight into the tank of sharks. I’ve tried it, and it works.
2) Dress for success. In a recent post on Red Dot Blog, Jason Horejs of Xanadu Gallery compares preparing for an art event to preparing for the theater, and encourages you to be conscious about picking your “costume” and stepping into your role as a successful artist – it doesn’t matter if you are or not; just play the part.
Horejs does caution against being too flamboyant, as would I, if it doesn’t match your brand. As a general rule of thumb, don’t be more interesting than your art (unless you are a performance artist; then all bets are off).
PRACTICE YOUR HEADLINE
Your headline is not your elevator pitch, but rather how you introduce yourself in a social setting. Like a newspaper headline, it should grab attention, but be concise and to the point. For example, Mat Gleason of Coagula Curatorial shared a story of a photographer whose headline is: “I shoot people.” Now that is a grabbing headline!
You should have different headlines for different audiences. Your art-jargon-filled headline that you use to impress art world aficionados is not going to spark a conversation at your spouse’s holiday party full of lawyers or doctors. So come up with an alternate headline in layman’s terms that intrigues non-artists – who may, after all, become your collectors. Go back to Part 1 and Part 3 of this series for some ideas and exercises to help you come up with descriptors to be memorable and stand out. Make sure that each headline matches your brand.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Once you get your headlines, practice them out loud, in front of a mirror and/or to your friends. You want to be personable and engaging, not reciting from memory, so practice until they come out naturally. If your headline engages people and they want to know more, you should have a couple more sentences prepared to continue the conversation.
BE PREPARED…WITH BUSINESS CARDS
The devil is in the details. Nothing says “professional” like having a readily available, high quality business card to whip out once you’ve grabbed someone’s attention and made a connection.
Yes, I know that everyone has a smart phone and can look you up on Instagram, but there is a strong case to be made for the power of the business card. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the expression in someone’s eyes change as I’ve gone from “hobbyist” to “professional” simply by handing them a well-made card with my website and some images of my work. They often comment – with surprise and pleasure – at how prepared I am, and on the quality of my cards. A simple way to score more points towards being memorable, with the added benefit that they are reminded of your existence again when they find the card in their pocket several weeks later.
What makes for a great business card? Check out these 7 tips from the Artwork Archive blog. Before you get a bunch printed, do a test order to make sure that the physical card meets your expectations. In my experience, it has been worth the extra money to order from Moo.com because these cards are always a great conversation starter due to the quality and the Printify option, which allows you to print multiple images on the back of the card. People enjoy getting to pick their favorite image. Caution: don’t overwhelm your new fan with too many choices – 2-5 options are sufficient. Tip: sign up for Moo’s newsletter to get notified of their 25% off sales.
Click here to read the first 4 installments of this series.
Christine Rasmussen’s oil paintings explore themes of place, identity, boundaries and belonging. Christine describes herself as a ‘global nomad’ – she was born to American parents in Pakistan, and has lived in 13 cities across Pakistan, Vietnam and the United States. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Art Practice (with Honors) and Peace & Conflict Studies. Her works are in private collections in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. Christine is now based in Los Angeles, CA, where she enjoys art, books and blogs.