You’re probably a struggling artist who tries to do everything yourself. I’ve been there.
We learned that independence is king, and the idea of being a solitary artist is a popular one. You can’t ask for help on school tests. No, you can’t pay someone to write your paper for you.
But what if that’s wrong?
I used to feel like I had to do it all myself.
It felt like “cheating” if I didn’t DIY everything.
I fixed my own car. I did my own laundry. I mowed my own lawn. I kept busy with busy work that wasn’t helping me move forward.
This is the real rat race. Staying busy so you don’t get any of your art done. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Realize: you’re a piece of something bigger.
A holon is something that is simultaneously a whole in and of itself, as well as a part of a larger whole. (Wikipedia)
Atoms make up molecules. Molecules combine to create structures. Chemicals and structures interact to form cells. Cells make up organs. Organs make up humans. Humans are pieces of organizations and families. Organizations and families make up communities…nations…a species. I hope you get the point.
Seeing ourselves as holons helps us understand that–while we are independent–we depend on each other. We can’t do this alone.
It’s a matter of scale. Yes, we’re whole. But we’re also a part of something else.
If you make your network stronger and broader, you become stronger. According to a study conducted in Germany in 2018, you become happier, too. Another study found that people with the most friends would live up to 22% longer than those with very few friends. This is the value of connection.
Reduce fear and risk with strong social connections.
You never have to worry about making a living if you have a strong network.
Alumni networks are an excellent example of this principle. Ivy League graduates have an easier time getting hired by other Ivy League graduates. Even if they aren’t the most qualified candidate. The “elite” status of certain diplomas opens doors because of the strong social ties.
The same is true of fraternities and sororities, Freemasons, and your high school D&D group. The people you develop relationships with reduce risk and fear in your life.
I was a “loner” in my teens and early 20’s. I had a tiny network because I liked it that way.
My grandparents were my safety net. I was able to take risks because I knew my family could help if I was in a situation I couldn’t fight my way out of.
Until I didn’t have a safety net anymore. I took a huge risk when I started tattooing because I only had one family member left.
Eventually, my grandfather passed away, too. My safety net was gone.
But I had a robust network to provide security for my family after my grandfather passed.
I’ve found that I don’t need to get new clients when booking gets light: I can reach out to my network and start conversations.
I can usually reactivate 6-10 clients without ever mentioning tattoos. Just by being curious about their lives.
Knowing that you have hundreds of people in your network will give you the confidence to take risks. Because it isn’t as risky as it seems.
You can start a new business. You can try a fresh style. Someone in your network will be interested.
There is safety in numbers.
Find someone for everything else.
Let’s bring it back to that feeling of “cheating” if you ask for help. After reading Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy, I realized that there really is someone for everything.
At least, there’s someone for everything that I’m not the best at. If there’s a task that is uniquely mine (my style of tattoos, my writing, my art, my ideas), that’s on me.
Otherwise, I should hire someone else to do it.
Delegating and outsourcing gives me more time to focus on my own unique contributions.
It’s also less stressful.
You’re not the best mechanic, so get a damned good mechanic on call. If you don’t enjoy mowing your lawn, the neighbor kid loves making money by mowing for you.
Freeing up bandwidth is liberating.
You will have more time to invest in projects that matter. More time to spend with your family. Because you don’t have to think about finding time to change the oil and mow the lawn over the weekend. It’s covered.
Get started with a list.
If you’re ready to get outside the small space you’ve been stuck in, here’s how you take the first step:
Make a list of everyone in your network.
I’m not talking about every Facebook friend you have. If you’re like me, you have more “friends” on social media than you actually know. Make a list of everyone you have semi-regular contact with.
Take some notes on each person on your list. Don’t worry about structure yet.
Now, think of one area of your life where you need help. Want a nicer yard? Need help with some home renovations? Is your car about to fall apart? Advice needed for your retirement accounts?
When you have an idea, don’t ask yourself, “How do I get this done?”
Re-frame the question to “Who can help me get this done?”
When you have the answer, reach out to that person in the next five minutes. Make your network one person larger.
This is part 1 of a multi-part series on networking for artistic success. Make sure you subscribe to my newsletter if you want updates for every new article:
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