When I was younger, I always had dreams of being “discovered.” For what exactly? I can’t be sure. I’m average height with a normal body, so modeling was out of the question. My singing voice wouldn’t knock anyone’s socks off, despite what I may feel when I’m in the car alone, so singing was out. I attended drama camp for several years, but Jennifer Lawrence I’m not. So basically, the talents that usually warrant someone being discovered were just not happening for me. Despite this fact, I just loved hearing stories about agents stumbling upon the “next big thing.” This supermodel was discovered in that shopping mall; this singer was discovered in a talent competition in her Tennessee hometown. It was so glamorous. Now I’ve realized that normal people don’t just get discovered. It doesn’t happen like that. It’s rare to have talent scouts just roaming around waiting to find you. And for this reason, you have to be bold if you want to get to where you want to be.
I’ll admit, I have a hard time being bold. I’m always afraid I’m being obnoxious or that I’m going to offend someone. The word “networking” used to send an unpleasant shiver down my spine. But now I’m changing my attitude. I’m realizing that there’s a difference between being bold and being over-the-top. Even when you think you’re being bold, you’re probably not being as in-your-face as you may feel that you are.
Being in-your-face is like this: “Hey, I’m a writer! Read my work! Get me a job!” or “Hey! I’m an actress! Here’s some of my work. Now hire me!” or “Hey! I’m an artist. Look at my paintings. Okay, now buy them.” That cruises past bold and heads into obnoxious territory.
This is bold: “Hey I was wondering about _________ and thought you could give me some information.” Or, “Hey do you happen to know about _________?”
I’ve realized that people are usually more than happy to provide polite, sweet, appreciative individuals with information. If you send someone a nice e-mail and ask for an answer to a specific question, more likely than not you’ll get a reply. If you bombard this person with advertising about yourself and your services, you’ll probably get hung up on or ignored. The differences between being bold and being in-your-face are subtle, but they’re important. They key to being bold without bordering on obnoxious? Respect the other person’s time, show your appreciation, and ask only one or two questions to avoid overwhelming someone who’s pressed for time. This helps to let someone know you exist, without forcing them into an uncomfortable position where they feel obligated to hire you/build your career for you/etc.
It’s also important to understand that you have to be braver than you think in order to stand out and further your career. If you’re just expecting people to stumble upon your work, it’s not going to happen. You have to make connections and make people aware of you. Help them to discover you, don’t leave it up to fate.
Do you have trouble being bold? How do you make yourself stand out without being too “Look at me!”