The rolodex

You really only need a few people to make your career work. For example, in the art world, you only need one dealer, a few collectors, a couple of critics, and a couple of curators to make your career sustainable. 12 true fans.

The challenge is how you actually build relationships with these people. Well, for starters, you’ll need to choose what it is you’re doing, and eventually commit to it.

Who is it that you need to reach out to? Well, you’ll start seeing them—either through your algorithm, or through the people you’re studying, or through your peers. There’s no simple filter for this, you’ll have to set it up yourself. You can use Twitter or Instagram’s algorithms to your advantage. There are also tools like Sparktoro. Or just look at where people who are doing what you want to do are making appearances.

The next step, then, is to connect with them. I’ve always appreciated what entrepreneur and recording artist Ryan Leslie said, about making 30 connections per day. (More specifically, 30 phone calls.) These could also be forwardable emails.

Your work should also be doing some of the talking for you. As Chris Do writes, crediting Beate Chelette, this means doing “Something that would generate one thank you note a day from a stranger.” It doesn’t just mean shipping your work; it means releasing something so valuable—something that’ll make someone’s life that much better—that they’ll be compelled to reach out.

In my experience, these two tactics actually amplify each other when you apply them together.

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