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Awesome arts administrator Barbara Garber, the City Studio Assistant Director at the San Francisco Art Institute, shared her “Resources for Teaching Artists” with me recently and it’s information worth passing along as I know many artists teach or will think about teaching at some point in their creative careers.

I’ve linked directly to some of the sites noted in her guide.

On Career Development:

College Art Association

The National Art Education Association

The Artist Help Network

Arts Resource Network

Artist’s Professional Toolbox

For Job Listings:

Chronicle for Higher Education

Job Bank

National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture

Related Organizations:

Teaching Artist Source

The Association of Teaching Artists

State/Regional Arts Agencies:

Alameda County Office of Education

San Francisco Arts Commission

California Arts Council

California Alliance for Arts Education

Check these out if you are a fan of arts in education as they lead to a wealth of information.  Do you have a resource to add to this list?


After attending several workshops and listening to webinars about developing a social media strategy and just scratching my head, I finally began to understand. Initially, like any small business owner, I was reluctant to add things to my to-do list, unless I had some way to measure the returns. Especially something like social media which involves spending time on the Internet, which I like to do and might find distracting. Once I could understand that networking online was really very similar to networking at events, then I knew what to do.

My notes are so simple, that I smile every time I see them.  But they remind me of what to do and put me in a good mood which helps:

  • It’s a party.
  • You go to the party daily.
  • You stay for at least 1/2 an hour.

Here’s what you like to do at the party:

  1. Update your status bars on LinkedIn and Facebook (personal network and business fan page).
  2. Talk to the people you find most interesting. This could mean commenting on favorite blogs from a list of 10 to check at least once a week.  On twitter, it means responding to and/or retweeting posts that attract your attention.
  3. Browse around other blogs, just looking and commenting as you see fit.  Twitter is a great place to find links to interesting blog posts, especially since you are already following people with similar interests.
  4. Ask and answer questions.  You might belong to a LinkedIn group with an interesting discussion thread. Or it could be a yahoogroup where members are posing questions and sharing referrals. Or a social site like Citymommy where members are posting links and sharing information.  Like most relationships, the more love you give, the more love you get.
  5. Research deeper as needed.  Take a little extra time now and then to really delve into a topic or check out the people you are meeting online.  What does their online presence reveal about them? Do you want to bookmark them for future reference or subscribe to their e-newsletter for more information on an on-going basis?  It’s all good networking and you will find some great resources, both people and information, that you can share.
  6. Post to your own blog and share a link to it on twitter, Linkedin, and your facebook fan page.  All three sites can do this automatically from your blog.
  7. Finally, track and measure the results.  What do you want to measure? Google analytics will track traffic to your web-site which is a good place to start.  Your blog can track the number of visits (besides your own!) or you might use the number of comments as another measure of engagement.

What do you like to do at the online party?

Is cold-calling still an effective technique for reaching potential clients? I’ve been asking myself and people in my network this question for awhile about whether or not it made sense to try calling potential clients directly. For the most part, I accepted the answer I heard from more than a few people: don’t call, I don’t have time to talk to you. Reach me through email and my online networks and if I’m interested, I will contact you.

This was an easy answer to accept because it’s what I would say too. What do I do when someone I don’t know calls me up to sell something?  Exactly.  I try to firmly and politely get them off the phone as soon as possible so I can get back to what I was doing before I was so rudely interrupted.  This was my airtight case for not calling potential clients unless I had a lead or a referral or anything that would warm up my reason for calling.  I really didn’t want to be the person on the other end of the line, getting rejected.

How could I get over that fear? I accepted the challenge on a job for someone else. I called up 200 people and experienced every shade of gray on the scale between no answer to getting an appointment scheduled. Here’s what I learned:

1.  Have a script to follow loosely. I stumbled through reading it the first few calls and am grateful for the patience of the people who still listened on the other end of the line. Once I warmed up, I could improvise but still convey the same message, only more naturally and less like a voice on an answering machine.

2. It really does help if you smile while you are talking on the phone even if nobody else can see you.  It improves your own attitude and warms up your voice. The listener can hear that smile.

3. Most people are very polite about expressing their lack of interest. Thank goodness! It’s not personal. Move on to the next call.

4. Some people don’t understand your message in the way that you intend. It’s so tempting to try to explain what you really meant.  Any clarification I tried to offer did not change the refusal and in some cases only irritated the recipient of my call.  Better luck next time and move on to the next call.

5. It really helps to offer an incentive. What will they get for their time? Is there some advice or tip that will save their time or help them out in their business, even if they don’t engage your services? The more you show your respect for their time, the better reception you’ll get.

6. That said, keep it brief and deliver your message about the value of your services as succinctly as possible. Practice makes perfect and a script helps.

7. Keep track of your results. A simple table with the name of the contact, the name of the company, and the phone number will do with columns for the response (no answer, refused, or scheduled) and another column for the appointment time (and additional contact information) as needed.

8. Some people are interested! After calling a list of 200 names, I was able to schedule 4 appointments for my client.

Is that effective? For a small business, like myself, that’s a lot of time to spend on the phone, not connecting. It all depends on what happens with the 4 sales calls. If they result in large or long-term contracts, it will be worth the clients’ investment in me and my time. But is it enough of an incentive to motivate me to start calling potential clients? What do you think about making or receiving such calls?

My South of Market neighborhood here in San Francisco gets pretty busy this time of year due to it’s proximity to Union Square and all the surrounding stores and parking lots.  The rush can be exciting and part of the landscape of the holidays but mostly it’s just hectic.  One year I was rushing along, shopping bags in hand , pulling along a 2-year-old because I had to be somewhere and had to get through the crowd to get there when I passed by a store and saw something that made me pause and think.  It was a fancy store, selling cigars from a special smoking chamber, and it was mostly empty except for the staff and a couple of shoppers.  One of the shoppers was sitting on a couch and reading a newspaper as his companion consulted with the sales person.  I must have pressed my nose against the glass and stared to see the sight.  I didn’t want the fancy cigars or any of the other luxuries offered by the boutiques in that neighborhood.  The luxury I coveted was the ability to sit and relax while Christmas shopping.  Was that something only available to the wealthy?  Did it have to be?  How could I get some of that in my life?

The first thing I did was keep that image in mind the rest of the shopping season.  I slowed down my own pace.  I carried fewer things around at once.  I found benches to sit on with my son and relaxed while he played while the rush kept on going past me.  I felt incredibly rich and prosperous as I gave myself the gift of taking time to do things or to not do things.  What did it cost me?  Not much.  I could easily afford buying fewer gifts.  I allowed fewer events on my schedule; where once I would have seen room for 3 events, I decided that one would suffice and then I had to pick and choose which one I wanted to attend.  Instead of making appearances at 5 holiday parties, I carefully selected the one party that would make me feel most festive.  I would just imagine myself to be a connoisseur of the calendar, like the gentleman in the store, enjoying the luxury of time.  It felt decadent by comparison to the rushing around I was used to tolerating.  Now every holiday season when the urge to do more to celebrate better comes upon me and everyone else, I resist.  I remember what I really want and that it is there for the taking, if I can just allow myself the luxury of taking time.

What do you plan to give to yourself for the holidays?  What luxury would you like to allow into your life in the new year?

My family went into the Labor Day weekend with all sorts of plans.  I know that I was planning to work on Saturday while the boys went out to play.  On Sunday, we’d all go out and enjoy a family day together.  Monday would be my husband’s catch-up on work time and I would take our son to hang out with family friends.  What’s interesting to me is how much time we planned to work over our holiday weekend because there never seems to be enough time during the week to do it all.  If I were working for a client, my advice would be to take the time to enjoy the weekend and approach the work with fresh eyes the next week.

But the work was for me and I don’t always follow my own advice.  By noon on Saturday, I realized that I was carrying my work into my free time unnecessarily.  Probably because I had not planned anything better to do.  So I sat for a moment and made a list of things I like to do when I have free time.  Then I was able to choose how to spend my time rather than working because I felt like I had no choice.  I was then free to enjoy my weekend and my family.

Instead of playing on Saturday, my husband had spent the day on housework, bless his heart.  We always have plenty of this sort of work to go around too.  I wanted to share my discovery with him so I left him on his own on Sunday and took our son to the zoo, one of our most favorite things to do.  With a little time and space and some anime cartoons, he came around to seeing my point of view and we were able to spend Monday, Labor Day, as a holiday together.  We met some friends in a park to watch a performance and we got to hang out in the sun.   After three days of our weekend, we were finally relaxed and rested, ready to do the work we love the next day.

So nothing went quite as planned and we were all better off for it.  What I’d like to take into future weekends is an an appreciation of  the good fortune to have our weekends free to spend together.  The time is ours to plan and unplan as we like.  And some gratitude for our good work during the week.  Thank you Labor Day for this valuable lesson about labor and love!

Everyone talks about great customer service.  But what is it?  You know it when you get it and you know it even more so when you don’t!   How can you tell if you are giving it?

Repeat business is the short answer.  Clients are going to relate to you as a person first and will want to continue to do business with you if they like you.  Providing a great service is part of the process but really, everything you say or do for the client matters.

As a consumer, I am always very excited to find a great service that I can rely upon when I need it.  For example, San Francisco has many fine bike shops and I tried quite a few before I found my bike mechanic.  I have only an occasional need of his services but am always delighted when I bring a bike in for a tune-up or just to change a flat.  Every time, he takes the time to stop what he is doing and listen to what I need.  No matter how small or trivial my request, he gives it his attention, usually right then and there.  He’s up front about the cost and when the repair can be completed.  I have always been satisfied with the work and am always pleased by his manners.

Sadly, last time I took my bike to the shop, another mechanic was there.  He took in my son’s bike, gave me an estimate and a pick-up time and I thought all would be well.  The day I was supposed to pick up the bike, he called me.  Did I want repairs that would cost me more than the value of my cheap bike?  No, not really.  But what was a cheap bike to him was a very valuable story in our family lore.  You see, my son had “won” that bike in a raffle we had entered when he was only a year old.  We had held on to that bike for 5 years, just waiting until he was old enough to finally enjoy his prize.

So my son and I went to pick up the bike.  The mechanic had not tuned it up and in fact, reported that the rear brake had broken off when he adjusted it.  He returned it to us with no charge and advised us not to waste our money on this one but to get a good bike.  I know that he meant well but he had just violated rule #1 of good customer service.  Rule #1 should be that all problems that a customer or client brings up are important problems and should not be dismissed.  I’ve experienced such an attitude in bike shops before.  And, from quite a few tech support people too.  The “I know better than you do” attitude does not win repeat business from me, or from most people, I suspect.  Rule # 2 should be to do no harm (um, excuse me, you just broke my bike that I brought in to be fixed) if you can’t help.  When on the phone for tech support, the harm is often the time wasted waiting for the support person to figure out that the problem really is the one you called and reported, and not what he thought it must be.

If rules 1 and 2 come from a lesson learned at my expense, the following rules are from the far more enjoyable experiences with MY bike mechanic, the one I will use again and again.

#3.  Be a good listener.

#4. Deliver on time and on budget.

#5. Be courteous, no matter what kind of day you are having or how busy you are.

Anything else to add?

Online workers need to take breaks too. And it’s not just the coffee that is needed to refresh and refuel you for the tasks ahead. Home office workers especially need to reach out and connect with others to reduce a sense of isolation that can be a drain on productivity. Chatting with co-workers off-topic (not about work) provides a pleasant connection with others and can keep you going. The popularity of social media such as Facebook will attest to this. It’s just fun to check in with your friends and colleagues now and then.

A colleague who works with a virtual team introduced me to the idea of “virtual coffee breaks.” She insists that members of her team check in personally with one another just to make that connection that will build a stronger working relationship. After all, even though we are working virtually we are still real and complex beyond our online presence. A virtual coffee break can also be a convenient alternative to getting together over coffee when schedules collide. Taking breaks from work is so important to maintaining a healthy level of productivity yet so many of us power on through until we run out of steam. Checking in with another on a regular basis can help us integrate regular breaks into our workflow, bringing a better balance into our work and life.

1. Ask

2. Receive

3. Give

A wise friend gave me the above advice.  I posted it by my computer and still I resisted because it just felt so uncomfortable and unnatural.  Didn’t I have to give first to receive?  And being self-sufficient, I wasn’t sure about asking for help at all.  Of course, I am strong because of being connected to other people: family, neighbors, colleagues, friends.   All of whom can and do help me.  How powerful it could be if I could harness this resource so that it’s available when I need it most.  All I would have to do is ask.

The first person I asked was a friend in business for herself.  How did she do it and why?  Then I asked a mentor, why couldn’t I do it too?  She referred me to an excellent resource located in my neighborhood, the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center.  They offer workshops and classes for small businesses or those who were thinking about starting one.  Under their guidance, I started asking for more help.  I asked friends for their business and referrals.  I asked my family for a loan.  I asked colleagues for advice and feedback as I developed my website.  The help I have received has been incredible!    I am so grateful.  Maybe the third item on the list could be interpreted as give thanks as well as give of yourself.  Thank you everyone.

The solo service professional, whether he or she works from home or from a small office space, never really works alone.  Some of the lure of entrepreneurship is going it alone or taking on all of the responsibility for the company.  That may be so, but building the business involves engaging with many others.  Whether connecting with clients or colleagues, or collaborating with other professionals, doing business involves one in many relationships, in person and online.

Always seeking a better balance myself, I enjoy immersing myself in a project and working free from distractions in my own home office.  Such a space and time enables me to work mindfully and find the flow, the state in which we lose track of time and ourselves.  Working from such a space produces better work and greater satisfaction in the work, to the benefit of the client and myself.  I also really enjoy people and would start to feel isolated if I did not connect with others on a daily basis.  It’s easy to do by participating in discussion groups online and by attending weekly local networking events and following up with meetings for coffee and lunch with colleagues afterwards.  And of course, communicating with clients is all about creating and tending a professional relationship.  And asking others for help is always a wise move, whether it be for professional services that the business needs or the moral support that the owner needs.  And providing help to others in making connections or relieving other owners from some of the burden of the work they need to do to run their own company.   Starting one’s own company truly is a pleasure in terms of both working alone and working together.

Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying my son’s kindergarten class on a field trip to the aquarium.   We had a great time and it got me thinking about how important it is to get out and about every now and then.  Especially true for those of us working from home offices.  Even just working at a local cafe can freshen things up and lend a new perspective to the task at hand.  Epicenter on Folsom (just around the corner from my local Whole Foods market) offers coffee and a couch with a wireless connection for those with laptops.  A latte and a notepad works for me.

It helps me to think of networking events as field trips too.  It’s better to think of them as little treats that supplement the work week rather than as pills that you have to take because they are good for you.  What’s really going on with the reframing is an adjustment of my expectations of the event.  If I view the events strictly as work, I set myself up for frustration because I can think of more productive ways to use the time.  I can’t quite see them as all play either, because I am attending in order to connect with other business people.  Instead, I’ve started thinking of them as more like field trips, outings that I can enjoy for the most part and that enhance my business.  And really, it is fun to go out and talk shop with peers on a “school” night!