How do you let other people know you want to play the game? Well, you have to show interest, of course. If you have family or friends who are board game resistant, maybe you prime the pump in advance, “Hey, I was hoping we could play Monopoly when we all get together next weekend. What do you think?” Then you add the kicker to really get on their good side, “It’s just that you’re such a formidable opponent. It really makes it fun to play with you. I’ll bring the snacks!” My sisters ply me with good coffee. Gets me every time. “Powerless to resist,” I say.
Your Day 17 Challenge is to Write Your Letter of Interest Templates.
Before you send these letters, it is best to do a bit of research. I highly recommend splitting your efforts into local, regional, and national. The larger your geographical radius, the more specific niche you need to research.
You’ll want to focus your reconnaissance on the audience you most want to serve. Will that be presenters, opera companies, composers, religious organizations, ensembles, or festivals? There can be a healthy mix but you want to make sure you are showing interest in the opportunities that will show interest in you.
Now, on to the parts of your letter of interest:
Your research should have illuminated exactly to whom you should send the letter. If you are not sure, you need to do more research. We’re building relationships here. This is not the time for “to whom it may concern” like it’s a sophomoric internship inquiry.
Show Your Knowledge and Understanding
Letters of interest in the creative field are the parallel universe equivalent to cover letters in the corporate world. You want to show a strong understanding of the organization, no matter the niche or opportunity, so that you can enumerate why you are the perfect singer for a future gig.
Tell them what you love about what they do. Tell them exactly how they do it differently than anyone else in the field. You want them thinking, “Wow, she really gets us. Isn’t it funny how our visions align so closely?”
Think of the letter of interest as simply getting on their radar and making it clear that you want to work with them in the future. Avoid being pushy or demanding about a gig right now. (This also applies to composers when sending scores. Send your scores! Get on the radar of performers, ensembles, and more. They will not be able to act right away but they will have you in the hopper, so to speak. That can be very powerful.)
Demonstrate Your Credentials and Social Proof
Pretend they do not know you. Or, even better, pretend they know you in a different capacity. It’s like every teenage rom com where the girl takes off her glasses, lets down her hair, and puts on a chic dress and suddenly the popular guy notices her for the first time. (Oh, you all know I’m a sucker for a “She’s All That” reference…) Give yourself a transformational moment! You want to accentuate your skills in a way that makes everyone forget that they knew you as Susie Secretary. After this, they will see you for the diva you are.
Highlight your ability to draw an audience, if you know you can back it up. Feature your vetted skill with the repertoire you noticed they have programmed next season. Play up your past successes in outreach if you notice they have a fledgling outreach program.
Seamlessly include ways for the recipient to check you out and confirm your social proof. You will want to direct them straight to the best information for them. I highly encourage you to use personalized bit.ly links to show them that you have taken the time to curate to their tastes and needs. Wouldn’t that make you ever so slightly more inclined to check it out?
Part of today’s challenge is to look at the research you did for these templates and make a list of skills that might be useful to each targeted audience. Think about what they need and how you have previously and can continue to provide it.
Call-to-Action and Next Steps
A letter without a call-to-action is a waste of ink and paper or pixels, as the case may be. Make a list of possible calls-to-action. The idea for a letter of interest is that you just want to take your relationship with that organization to the next step. Phone calls, Google Hangouts, coffee (or other fill-in-the-blank-beverage) meetings, and personal auditions are all examples of next steps with varying degrees of immediacy and distance. You will want to think on the one that would be the smoothest for this relationship.
Let them know that you plan to follow-up and when. Then, follow-up! When you send the letter, put a reminder in your phone at that moment that reminds you to follow-up when you say you will. So many #29DaystoDiva tips readily fall under the umbrella of, “do the thing you said you were going to do.”
How do you let someone know that you are interested in playing the game? Tell them. No one is going to save you. You will not get knocks on your door or dings in your inbox without putting yourself out there to say, “I want to do this! I want to work with you!”
Punchlist of tasks from Day 17:
- Research local, regional, and national agents of classical music with whom you would like to work.
- Research the appropriate contact person for each potential opportunity.
- Create letter of interest templates specific to opportunities, location, and/or niche.
- Make a list of your skills that you can highlight for the recipient.
- Brainstorm letter of interest calls-to-action.
- Send your letters and create a reminder for yourself to follow-up.
- Follow-up on letters of interest.
- World domination. (You knew it was coming all along…)
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