A lot of times we hear about people that are ‘lucky’ in their career. They might be lucky because they know someone, or because they have some particular skill set, or for some other reason.
For a long time now I’ve been a believer in “preparing for luck”. But what does this mean? The idea is pretty simple: instead of waiting for things to happen, or hoping for things to happen, I try to do things that will put me in the best position for success if and when I get ‘lucky’. It’s a philosophy I think has helped me a lot over the last several years. Let me give you a practical example.
(Sketches I’ve done for companies, along with a horrible, ridiculous head drawing from a low-caffeine moment.)
I create Christmas cards every year for clients over at AustinChristmasCards.com. A lot of my work there comes from word-of-mouth and referrals, with some advertising thrown in too. Besides working for families, there are a few companies that I would like to create holiday cards for too. An example of this would be Gary Vaynerchuk and his company VaynerMedia. I’ve been listening to Gary’s podcasts and watching his videos on YouTube for several years now. I feel he’s done a lot to help me improve my business and my marketing efforts. I also love the personality he brings to all of his work!
I’d love to create holiday cards for him and his company this year, but I’ve never met the man. I could just reach out to him via Twitter or email and hope for the best, with a philosophy of ‘if it works, great. If not, it was never meant to be’. This is a very ‘reactive’ approach though (apart from the proactive part of sending the email). Yawn.
Instead, here’s what I did: I created three sketches of possible Christmas card ideas for his company. I also created a custom page on my card website for him and his employees to view (you can see that page here). This shows that I’m more active in reaching out to him–I’m not just sending him a link to my website, but rather giving him concrete examples of cards we can do.
After creating the page and samples, the next step is to reach out to him and his crew. Beyond sending messages directly to him via Twitter and email (which of course I did), I also researched other employees and their Twitter names to reach out to. At the same time that these messages will be sent, I will be running dark posts on Facebook, which are like little ads that are only shown to him and his employees. He, in fact, was the one that first brought this technique to my attention a few years ago on his “Ask Gary V” podcast.
So, what is the “luck” in this scenario? For me, the only luck is either him or one of his employees seeing a message from me somewhere. That is the only luck part about it at all. After that, all of the craftwork I have done kicks in. They will either hire me or not, but I will know that I’ve done the work I can ahead of time to present myself in the best way possible. I’m excited to see where this goes, and I’ll will be reporting back here on my success!
The message here is that you prepare, and then you have luck. Luck without preparation is ‘wasted luck’. When you have both however, the intersection is where opportunity happens:
Now, how can you apply this to your own creative work? Is there more preparation work that you can do ahead of time before reaching out to a possible client, so if ‘luck’ happens you’ll be ready? Has this worked for you in the past? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!