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If I Were You and I Wanted To Meet Me

5 pretty darn good suggestions to get your face in front of a Creative Director…

Great book. Check. Recent work. Check. Actively sending out newsletters, updating your website, engaging in social media, and blogging about interesting and relevant side projects. Check it all. Impressive. Sometimes though, that’s not enough. I’m not saying that it’s never enough. But, if you think you have your sh*t together and still feel like you’re not getting any traction (or enough of the revenue-generating, holy-womp-let-me-tell-you-about-my-last-gig kind of traction) then I think it’s safe to say something is missing. Let’s evaluate.

The best place to get a solid recommendation is from a friend. The best person to work with is someone you trust. The best people to borrow money from are your parents :). What I’m getting at is that personal connections get us places. And if you’re not getting to the places you want, then it might help to focus some energy in this direction. Having a rep/agent helps, sure. But I’ve seen more jobs awarded based on relationships than on talent and skill. Now, of course, your rep should have some pretty stellar relationships to leverage in your favor — but there’s no harm in looking out for #1 and fostering your own connections. In fact, it’s encouraged! Here are some approaches that made an impact on me at some point in my career as a Creative Director.

1. Come to the Party

Chances are awesome your rep is scheduling portfolio reviews at agencies coast to coast. GO TO THESE. Art Buyers, Art Directors, Creative Directors, et al. would be more than willing to shake your hand and let you walk them through your work while they chomp a croissant or sip a cuppa. Be politely outgoing, have a tale to tell, and you’ll be on a first name basis with people who could change your life.

2. Throw a Party

Let’s say you’re lucky enough to have a studio space. Let’s say that studio space is in the Chelsea district of New York City and you realize that every Thursday night dozens of nearby galleries have opening night parties. The parties only go from 6-8 pm, but you’ve caught on and keep yours going until 9 or 10, or until people stop coming in, drinking the PBR, and admiring the amazing work displayed on your walls. Do you have to be in Chelsea for this to work? No. Do you need beer? Yes. Do you have to have your own studio space? It helps.

3. Crash the Party

You don’t know anyone who works at an ad agency? Okay. You at least have to know someone who knows someone who works at an ad agency (that’s what Linked In is for). Work the connection and say, “Hey, do you think I could set up a presentation of some of my latest work for your creative group? I’ll bring lunch!” If the first sentence doesn’t grab them, the second one will. And in no time you’ll have a completely captive audience chowing on your generously catered BBQ and hanging on your every image.

4. Check yourself

If you’re not checking in on who’s liking, pinning, +1-ing, retweeting, or @mentioning you, then, well, I don’t know what to say. I don’t use Twitter or Pinterest to gain social currency, or even a following for that matter. For me, they’re bookmarking systems. When I see something I like, I tweet it or pin it so I can come back to it. I’m always crediting the creator because if I don’t then my system breaks down. The win here is when you notice – you favorite a tweet, @reply, follow back, whatever. I’ve told my world I like your work. The door is open.

5. Don’t wreck yourself

Be. Prepared. You might think there’s nothing worse than having the opportunity of a lifetime and not being ready for it. “I don’t have any cards on me.” “My site is being redesigned.” “This will give you an idea of my work, but I really need to update it.” Well, here’s one thing worse: not following up after the opportunity of a lifetime arrives. There’s a lot of competition out there. It’s hard to stand out, and it’s easy for me to forget. If we’ve started something, it’s up to you to keep it going. Don’t let it drop. You’ve worked too hard to get this far.

So there you have it. Now go meet some people, establish some connections, and attend some parties!

Ethan David Kent

15 years years ago ethan david kent (edk) began developing award-winning advertising work for clients seeking bold new ways to stand up and stand out. His early portfolio includes a cast of global leaders in automotive, CPG, fashion, finance, health, and consumer tech for which his contributions in design, copy, strategy, and user experience were highly lauded. To date he's created everything from award-winning mobile apps to groundbreaking social programs to multi-faceted cross-platform campaigns for J.P. Morgan, Chase, Central Park Conservancy, Kraft, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and others too numerous to mention. For six years he served as Executive Creative Director for the celebrated ad agency, mcgarrybowen. Today, he is creative-at-large for established and emerging companies who enjoy a little bit of awesome in every idea.

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