Do you ask for what you want or do you say, “Nah, that’s too much trouble and besides…they’ll say ‘no’ anyway.” WRONG. BAD ATTITUDE. Yes, it may cost you a little pride if you ask for something and the decision maker says “no,” but who cares? You bothered to ask and there’s a big chance you may have lost out on your chance to hear a “yes.” My friend Stephanie McDilda from Born Toastmasters asked for a first class ticket to Hawaii and she got it! Since her speech on asking exactly for what you want I’ve been working on my “ask” muscle.
For the last six months I’ve been really working the music arm of my business. I’ve been emailing art galleries, farmers’ markets, and coffee shops to see if they’d be interested in having me perform some acoustic folk rock. At first I felt a little silly since I don’t have nearly as much experience (or at all!) as some musicians, but I’m getting out there and I DO have my poetry reading/author experience and that certainly counts. I’ve been practicing at home and attending a myriad of open mics in the area. I continue to take weekly guitar lessons and have been writing new songs. If someone asked me, “Alice, what do you do with in your free time?” That’s easy. I attend open mics and read Hamilton: The Revolution (look out for a future blog on Alexander Hamilton). Now the opportunities are going crazy. In fact, I’ve had to TURN DOWN gigs because I’m booked at another gig. Case in point: my friend Dana lives in Durham and told me to check out the Durham Farmers’ Market. I did and have been booked twice there and it was a very lucrative morning. Granted, I had to split my tips with my eight-year-old daughter. Well, she brought in the cuteness factor.
My client-friend Tanya Binford, author of the travel memoir, Crossing the Wake, decided to stop at the Barnes & Noble in Wilmington. You need to know that the Wilmington Star-News just ran a beautiful article on Tanya and her new book the day before (here’s the article). When the cashier appeared she laid out her book, the article and her sell sheet or PR sheet that has her headshot, blurbs, book photo and her bio. Tanya asked to speak to the store manager. The associate had that look in his eye that made Tanya feel like he completely didn’t take her seriously. He dialed the phone, called the manager and said, “I’ve got this woman up here, who is a writer…yeah… she wants us to promote her book…. Yeah, I know… okay.” He didn’t even mention the name of her book. Then told Tanya to go back and wait by the “Nook” section. She did soon the manager appeared. She put Crossing the Wake on the counter and the first words out of his mouth were, “People have been asking all day about your book and I’d love to have ten to twenty of them to sell.” He said he had tried to order some online and told her she had done everything right, by having good editors (ahem), using a large font and by making them returnable, etc., but they didn’t have any at the warehouse. He then called someone else, and neither could figure out how to get my books from me through the proper channels, so he wrote up an IOU for a total of 10.
Tanya ventured out to her car, brought in 9 books (the manager was holding the 10th) and by then the first book had been sold to a woman who said she had shown up earlier and was disappointed it wasn’t there. She was very happy to have Tanya’s book who autographed it for her. She said she knew she was meant to have it, and have it TODAY.
So the lesson here is to ask often while you’re also doing the work of branding, practicing, sharing, writing—in other words, taking action toward your craft.
What are you going to ask for TODAY?